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WikiLeaks Cable Shows State Department’s Willful Blindness on Gitmo

One WikiLeaks cable reveals an American diplomat’s ridiculously rosy view of a former Gitmo detainee.

6:30 AM, Nov 30, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Earlier this year, Amnesty International faced an internal crisis when some of its employees objected to the organization’s alliance with Begg. They cited Begg’s jihadist views and sympathy for the Taliban. Amnesty International sided with Begg over the objections of its own employees and well-known human rights activists such as Salman Rushdie. The screening of “Taxi to the Dark Side” that Begg and State’s representative attended in Luxembourg was sponsored by Amnesty.

Those are just some of the disturbing facts about Begg and his career. The State Department’s cable mentions none of them.

We do find passages such as this:

Begg, an articulate man, argued that there are dozens of prisoners in GTMO just like him - not dangerous to society, able to communicate and assimilate, able to be a contributing and responsible member of society - and they just need governments to stand up and offer them a place to call home.

In what positive ways have Begg and Cageprisoners contributed to society?  

And there are passages such as these:

During his presentation, Begg spoke almost exclusively of the future, with hardly any mention of the past. He did not discuss the question of legality of torture. Rather than stressing past injustices, he focused on what to do now. He acknowledged that he lives with the past, but that he now wants to be part of the solution…

Begg declined to speak about specific physical transgressions against his person. When told how physically well and mentally sound he appeared, he joked, "Well, I used to be taller." Begg spoke articulately, demonstrating minimal ill will toward his captors - even going so far as to say he speaks on the phone occasionally with his former interrogators.

How nice of him!

The State Department’s correspondent was apparently unaware that just months earlier Begg was the front man for a video game that would have allowed gamers to virtually blast their way out of Gitmo, killing Begg’s digitized captors – that is, Americans– in the process. So much for Begg’s alleged “minimal ill will toward his captors.” (The game was canceled because of the public outcry it generated.)

As for Begg’s claims about abuse and torture, the cable’s author was again unaware that they have been investigated and dismissed at least four times. The Defense Department investigated Begg’s claims three times. The inspector general’s office at the Department of Justice investigated them as well. They found no evidence to substantiate Begg’s allegations. But that hasn’t stopped Begg from repeatedly portraying Americans as serial torturers, although apparently not that night in Luxembourg.

There has been great pressure on the State Department to make President Obama’s decision to close Gitmo a reality. Foggy Bottom has failed to find homes for a majority of detainees the administration wants to transfer.

But that is no excuse for this diplomat’s ridiculously rosy view of Moazzam Begg, even if he wants Gitmo closed, too.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.    

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