The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Deconstructing Gitmo

Yesterday, there were two dueling speeches  by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney  on various national security issues, including enhanced interrogations and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. As a veteran-one who served a tour at Gitmo in 2005-I’d like to offer my perspectives on both.

I remember life on 9/11; remember watching the news coverage and wondering if again America would fight an offensive action against an enemy that had brought its war to our country. I wondered also if our country would be willing to make the hard choices and sacrifices to keep us all safe, regardless of the then-lightly blowing winds of partisan opinion.

And we did that. We were sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and Iraq to end the Hussein regime and the threat it posed to the nation. And along the way, we gathered intelligence that would prevent future attacks by detaining captured extremists and terrorists at Gitmo and other locations, and by interrogating them in ways that were-by any standard-harsh. All this was done with one goal in mind: to keep our country and her citizens safe.

And in that effort, we succeeded. History reflects that there have been no further terrorist attacks on our country since 2001. In fact, attempts at attacks-in Fort Dix, Los Angeles, and recently New York-have been foiled. At least one of these attacks-and who knows how many others-were foiled by waterboarding al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheik Muhammad.

So, for anyone to suggest that these tactics did not have the desired effect-obtaining intelligence that would protect the country-is at best dishonest, and at worst denigrates the actions of those who only worked in our best interests.  What our interrogators-be they CIA or from defense agencies-did was, unfortunately, necessary. And it worked; to say otherwise requires you to ignore the public evidence that makes that claim true.


For those who are willing to accept the words of the ACLU, New York Times, Daily Kos and other similar sites, hear from someone who did the job:

We did not torture anyone at Guantanamo. In fact, if you want to know the truth of that story, the guards there spend more time protecting themselves from the detainees. You see, the part of life at Gitmo that you haven’t heard is that the guards there are subject to abuse-not just the throwing of blood, urine, feces, and semen, but mentally as well. I still recall walking one of the blocks in Camp Delta and being asked by another black detainee why I would be willing to detain “my brother”-him. Attacks were their tactic-not ours.

When we needed  to deal with a noncompliant detainee, we did so by removing them from their cell. This was done by the IRF (or QRF, as it’s also known). Those guards were responsible for removing and restraining a detainee using the least amount of force possible; either by using the body’s natural pressure points or by simply knocking the detainee down and restraining them. We did not kick, beat, gouge out eyes or anything that you commonly hear portrayed. Being honest, no extraction that I saw-and they’re recorded, by the way-needed to resort to those tactics; often, just the threat of being removed was enough to make the detainee comply with our commands.

That is the truth-and reality-of service at Gitmo. Not only did my brothers and sisters in uniform serve well while being stationed there, they served honorably. And they continue to do so today, even in the face of a country that would just as soon label them “torturers” and prosecute them, instead of those who plotted and planned-and yes, prayed for-more of our countrymen’s deaths.


A lot is being made of what to do with the detainees under the Obama Administration. The president has given an order that Gitmo will be closed by 2010. This order only served to fulfill a campaign promise, and remains completely unrealistic to this day. Here’s why:

Defense Department policy is that we do not release detainees to a country that 1) cannot provide for their safety upon return (that is, punish them for whatever actions landed them at Gitmo outside of an agreement that facilitates their release) and 2) cannot or will not take actions to prevent the detainee from returning-or in some cases, joining-an extremist element currently fighting the United States. Were these conditions easily met, we probably would’ve closed Gitmo long ago. Reality is that they’re not.

So what do we do?

We have next to no choice but to keep the place open for the foreseeable future, until we can make arrangements to close the facility correctly. And by correctly, I don’t mean a wholesale shipment of all the detainees directly to the United States. We need to keep these extremists in a place that’s best designed to hold them securely and safely, and that can keep them from becoming a threat to the country until arrangements can be made to send them elsewhere.

Right now, Guantanamo is that place.




Written by Coby Dillard

May 21, 2009 at 8:36 pm

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