The Guantanamo Bay Bar

I’m back. I just couldn’t stay away after reading the following piece.

I wish I could say I was talking about a bar where our troops serving in Gitmo were going to get a break from the Islamofascists they’re having to babysit by giving them three squares and ‘Koran time’, but I’m not.

Debra Burlingame, sister of murdered-on-9/11 American Airlines Flight 77 pilot Chic Burlingame, has another stunner in the Wall Street Journal, this time on how a law firm, in concert with a ‘media guru’, managed to wage a ‘successful’ (to them) PR campaign on changing the way people viewed the Gitmo detainees. I honestly can’t recall reading recently anything more shocking than what she reveals about the strategy behind the legal team’s campaign to reshape the debate from being one about Islamofascists being detained after being captured on the battlefield to successfully giving them ‘human faces’ – here’s an excerpt from what Ms. Burlingame wrote (emphasis added):

Mr. [Tom] Wilner, a media-savvy lawyer [from the Shearman & Sterling law firm] who immediately realized that the detainee cases posed a tremendous PR challenge in the wake of September 11, hired high-stakes media guru Richard Levick to change public perception about the Kuwaiti 12. Mr. Levick, a former attorney whose Washington, D.C.-based “crisis PR” firm has carved out a niche in litigation-related issues, has represented clients as varied as Rosie O’Donnell, Napster, and the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Levick’s firm is also registered under FARA as an agent of a foreign principal for the “Kuwaiti Detainees Committee,” reporting $774,000 in fees in a one year period. After the U.S. Supreme Court heard the first consolidated case, the PR campaign went into high gear, Mr. Levick wrote, to “turn the Guantanamo tide.”

In numerous published articles and interviews, Mr. Levick has laid out the essence of the entire Kuwaiti PR campaign. The strategy sought to accomplish two things: put a sympathetic “human face” on the detainees and convince the public that it had a stake in their plight. In other words, the militant Islamists who traveled to Afghanistan to become a part of al Qaeda’s jihad on America had to be reinvented as innocent charity workers swept up in the war after 9/11. The committed Islamist who admitted firing an AK-47 in a Taliban training camp became a “teacher on vacation” who went to Afghanistan in 2001 “to help refugees.” The member of an Islamist street gang who opened three al-Wafa offices with Suliman Abu Ghaith (Osama Bin Laden’s chief spokesman) to raise al Qaeda funds became a charity worker whose eight children were left destitute in his absence. All 12 Kuwaitis became the innocent victims of “bounty hunters.”

Blood boiling yet?

Mr. Levick maintains that a year and a half after they began the campaign, their PR outreach produced literally thousands of news placements and that, eventually, a majority of the top 100 newspapers were editorializing on the detainees’ behalf. Convinced that judges can be influenced by aggressive PR campaigns, Mr. Levick points to rulings in the detainee cases which openly cite news stories that resulted from his team’s media outreach.

The Kuwaiti 12 case is a primer on the anatomy of a guerilla PR offensive, packaged and sold to the public as a fight for the “rule of law” and “America’s core principles.” Begin with flimsy information, generate stories that are spun from uncorroborated double or triple hearsay uttered by interested parties that are hard to confirm from halfway around the world. Feed the phonied-up stories to friendly media who write credulous reports and emotional human interest features, post them on a Web site where they will then be read and used as sources by other lazy (or busy) media from all over the world. In short, create one giant echo chamber.

All the while being helpfully assisted via the alarmist blowhard “we’re no better than them” rhetoric being spewed forth by Bush-hating Democrats in Congress like Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin, as well as ratings-hungry former sportscasters turned Nutroots fan favorites like Keith Olbermann, who were and still are eager to get their hands on anything that will bring down Bush, and turn the war on terror into something that should be prosecuted in a court of law, rather than in the battlefield, because they can’t accept – nor comprehend – the fact that there are evil people in the world who want to kill us. The lessons of 9-11 to them? They don’t remember any of them. In fact, I’m not sure they even learned any in the first place.

More from Burlingame:

Although a few mistakes were made when some of the Guantanamo detainees were taken into custody in the fog of war, others were indisputably captured with AK-47s still smoking in their hands. Any one of those who have been properly classified in Combat Status Review Tribunals as an unlawful enemy combatant could be the next Mohamed Atta or Hani Hanjour, who, if captured in the summer of 2001, would have been described by these lawyers as a quiet engineering student from Hamburg and a nice Saudi kid who dreams of learning to fly.

How we deal with alien enemy combatants goes to the essence of the debate between those who see terrorism as a series of criminal acts that should be litigated in the justice system, one attack at a time, and those who see it as a global war where the “criminal paradigm” is no more effective against militant Islamists whose chief tactic is mass murder than indictments would have been in stopping Hitler’s march across Europe. Michael Ratner and the lawyers in the Gitmo bar have expressly stated that the habeas corpus lawsuits are a tactic to prevent the U.S. military from doing its job. He has bragged that “The litigation is brutal [for the United States] . . . You can’t run an interrogation . . . with attorneys.” No, you can’t. Lawyers can literally get us killed.

I have friends who are lawyers, and they are fine ones. But the type of lawyers described in this piece are exactly the kind of lawyers who give the profession a bad name. To put it simply, these types of lawyers make me sick. They are selling out this country in the name of the almighty dollar, and trying to make a mockery of our Constitution.

Final words from Burlingame:

Only one Kuwaiti, Adel al-Zamel, has been sent to prison for crimes committed before his work with al-Wafa in Afghanistan. A member of an Islamist gang that stalked, videotaped and savagely beat “adulterers,” he was sentenced to a year in prison in 2000 for attacking a coed sitting in her car. These are some of the men Tom Wilner was talking about when he went on national television and said with a straight face, “My guys . . . loved the United States.”

The guy who really loved the United States stood and fought to protect us from radical Islamists, rather than enable them. In his job application for the CIA, Mike Spann wrote, “I am an action person that feels personally responsible for making any changes in this world that are in my power because if I don’t no one else will.” We owe our unqualified support and steadfastness to the warriors who take personal responsibility when no one else will.

Allowing lawyers to subvert the truth and transform the Constitution into a lethal weapon in the hands of our enemies–while casting themselves as patriots–makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by true patriots like Mike Spann. If Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, chairman and ranking members, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee succeed in their plan to turn enemy combatant cases over to the federal courts, we will sorely rue the day that we eliminated “lawyer-free zones.”

If your Senator is of the same opinion as Senators Leahy and Specter on enemy combatant cases, write them now to express your opposition.

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