Sullivan’s Tortured Logic
At City Journal, Heather Mac Donald responds to Andrew Sullivan’s overheated article for the New York Times Review of Books, in which he accuses the Bush administration of “torture:” Tortured Logic on Torture.
Many of Sullivan’s factual claims are tenuous at best. He asserts, for example, that “we now know that in Guantanamo, burning cigarettes were placed in the ears of detainees.” I have not read the two document collections that he is reviewing, though I have read the key documents that they contain. If this damning allegation is presented therein, however, we would have heard about it in the press. Instead, Sullivan is likely basing his assertion on an FBI memo that the ACLU released last month. That memo, written from the bureau’s Sacramento, California, office, reported that an unknown, unnamed civilian had walked in to the office to charge that burning cigarettes had been placed in prisoners’ ears in Iraq. The memo did not assess the civilian’s credibility or give any basis for allowing a reader to do so. No other evidence has come out to corroborate the claim, but even if it were true, Iraq is not Guantanamo.
Indeed, Sullivan treats every uncorroborated and uninvestigated allegation made by prisoners about their treatment as gospel. The fact that prisoners were abused at Abu Ghraib, however, does not mean that prisoners don’t lie about their experience. An interrogator from Afghanistan calls the claims of prisoner-celebrities such as Moazzam Begg “astonishing” in their mendacity. “Begg is complaining about handling under my watch,” the interrogator told me. “Begg was treated as a guest, even though he was caught red-handed in the most sinister situation. Yet the press treats him with utter credulity.”
Read it all.