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June 16, 2005

gu·lag, also Gu·lag: A forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents.

Senator Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois has recently made a name for himself by calling Gitmo a gulag and calling the very men and women who defend our freedom "Nazis".

How accurate is this? Let's analyze a few examples.

Obviously, we start with the Soviet gulag. According to Wikipedia, the original gulag killed more than 1.6 million (officially) from 1930 through 1956, and, sadly, they may have been the lucky ones. Conditions were harsh, and those who lived suffered. Hard physical labor was forced, such as mining and logging. Bad nutrition led to problems like scurvy and complete emaciation. No doubt, conditions actually were much worse than a single article could describe.

So, what could fall under the term "gulag"? Surely, the Holocaust brought about by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party; perhaps the largest mass murder ever, the Holocaust killed more than six million Jews from 1939 to 1945. One could also make the argument that a number of nations could have fallen under the "gulag" category. North Korea spends much of its money on its military, allowing the people to starve. The people of Iraq had few, if any freedoms, often killed if speaking out against the Ba'ath party. And in Sudan, the "ethnic cleansing" occurring there brings about memories of Kosovo (I would speak out against the hypocrisy of many liberals in supporting strong, firm action in Sudan but not Iraq, but that might be best saved for a later post).

Now, the all important question; is Guantanamo Bay a "gulag"? Absolutely not. The number of deaths at Gitmo? Zero. Prison guards who "desecrated" the Koran? Five. Now, this is a bit of a shame. It fuels the (poor) argument that the War on Terror is an war on Islam. It fuels hatred towards "The Great Satan". It also fuels (again, poor) arguments that Gitmo should be closed. But one part is greatly neglected; there have been fifteen seperate incidents that would qualify as desecrations of the Koran (based on the opinions of the detainees) by prisoners in Gitmo. So, either Islam has different rules for handling the Koran based on one's faith (highly doubtful), or the detainees know how the American media works and are using it to their advantage.

Well, maybe the soldiers at Guantanamo Bay are just being plain cruel to the detainees? Nope. The caves of Afghanistan leave much to be desired. They are dark, damp, and cramped. Sustinence comes from whatever sources possible, which are usually few. The terrorists can carry few personal belongings as they have to move constantly. That certainly sounds like a lot of suffering.

Then, American soldiers come. Knowing that they are generally humane, the terrorists surrender and are sent to Gitmo. There, they get standard heating and air conditioning. A meal is always waiting for them, and it is usually better than what many people around the world get. Want a Koran? No problem, a new one is easy to get. Need some entertainment? Books, games, and television are available.

The prisoners cannot be made perfectly comfortable though. Give them comfort and there will be no reason for them to release any information. Bring them to America and they will get lawyers and Miranda rights, making it near impossible to get information that could save lives. Send them to another foreign military prison and it will become "the new Gitmo". Release them and they will return to their terrorist organizations. While at the prison, tough, psychological tactics must be used to gather information. What many people forget is that terrorists, as prisoners, lose many rights because they have threatened the most basic right of others, their lives. The detainees don't deserve our sympathy; by every right, they may deserve the atrocities described by the prisoners. But Americans do not sink that low, and only do enough to protect our interests.

Closing Guantanamo Bay would be a terrible mistake, as it would strengthen the resolve of the terrorists and place more lives at risk. Guantanamo Bay is not a gulag, but it very well may be the key to keeping this nation, nay, the entire world, safe.

(Hat tip to Dictionary.com for the definition for the title)

UPDATE 6/17/05 6 AM: Michelle Malkin covers the treason of Dick Durbin. Its a good read.