America’s prison for terrorists often held the wrong men

An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad.

"The McClatchy investigation found that top Bush administration officials knew within months of opening the Guantanamo detention center that many of the prisoners there weren’t "the worst of the worst." From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn’t belong there."

Stories like this one — and the way those accused respond to them — raise a troubling (to me) question about American journalism. Why can’t we have one news organization that everyone can agree is factual and fair. Just one. "Truthiness" is no longer a joke.

Somewhere in the White House and the Pentagon, men and women are figuring out ways to discredit this story and the people who reported it. I won’t try to list the tactics they employee because we are all too familiar with them.

And those who chose not to believe stories like this one need only the flimsiest excuse ("There goes the Liberal Media again." or "Fox News says it’s not true.").

Remember how skeptical the world was of the claims by German citizens that they didn’t know what was going on in the concentration camps?

"Whoa! Hold on there! You aren’t comparing Guantanamo to Auschwitz are you?"

No. I’m talking about what we, the American people, allow our government to do on our behalf. If we’ve been holding hundreds of innocent men for five or six years and –in some cases– torturing (I know, I know… water boarding is not torture) them, will our best explanation be, "We were at war."

Ich bin beschämt