Aletho News


Right-wing self-delusion

By Glenn Greenwald | June 23, 2010

National Review‘s Jay Nordlinger cites a truly repellent (and false) comment made this week by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “A million and a half people are living in Gaza, but only one of them is really in need of humanitarian aid,” Barak said.  Nordlinger points out that Barak was referring to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held hostage for years by Hamas, which refuses to permit the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to him.  After observing that neither “the Cuban dictatorship or Chinese dictatorship permit the Red Cross to see prisoners,” Nordlinger then claims — with the needy victimization that typifies the Right — that “there’d be mass demonstrations in [Shalit’s] behalf all over Europe, and on American streets, too” if “Shalit were other than Israeli.”  In other words, Nordlinger believes that the Western World would never tolerate the denial of ICRC access to detainees except when the detainee is Israeli.

I’m asking this literally:  is Nordlinger ignorant of the fact that the United States of America denied ICRC access to non-Israeli prisoners for years during the prior administration?

The US has admitted for the first time that it has not given the Red Cross access to all detainees in its custody.

The state department’s top legal adviser, John Bellinger, made the admission but gave no details about where such prisoners were held. . . . He stated that the group International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had access to “absolutely everybody” at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which holds suspects detained during the US war on terror. When asked by journalists if the organisation had access to everybody held in similar circumstances elsewhere, he said: “No”.

That happened because, among other reasons, the U.S. maintained a network of CIA secret prisons — black sites — where detainees were barred from any and all contact with the outside world for months and even years, including international monitoring groups such as the ICRC.  Maybe Nordlinger has heard of someone named Dana Priest, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for revealing, in The Washington Post, the existence of those secret American prisons:

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA’s internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

As Priest wrote, these detainees — never charged, let alone convicted, of any crime — “exist in complete isolation from the outside world.  Kept in dark, sometimes underground cells, they have no recognized legal rights, and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with or even see them, or to otherwise verify their well-being.”  Even once those black sites were revealed by Priest, the Bush administration explicitly rejected the ICRC’s request for access to those detainees (the ICRC was also long denied access to prisons in Iraq run by the Iraqi Government during the U.S. occupation).  And the BBC reported in April of this year that the U.S. continues to maintain a secret prison at Bagram where prisoners are apparently abused and denied ICRC access.  Could someone point me to the “mass demonstrations” that took place in Europe and the U.S. over any of these American secret prisons?

This raises an important and under-appreciated point.  Many Americans defend the U.S.’s conduct not because they support it, but because they’re completely unaware of what those actions actually are.  Many of the people who support what they call the “enhanced interrogation” program really believe they’re defending three instances of waterboarding rather than scores of detainee deaths, because they literally don’t know it happened.  And here you have Nordlinger — a Senior Editor of National Review — claiming that denial of access to the ICRC is the hallmark of brutal tyrannies (it is), and arguing that a country could only get away with it if they do it to an Israeli, making clear that he is completely ignorant of the fact that his own Government did this for years (without, needless to say, prompting a peep of protest from his magazine), and reportedly continues to do it.  That the U.S. did this systematically just doesn’t exist in his brain; he really believes it’s something only China, Cuba and Hamas do.  They really do live in their own universe and just block out whatever facts they dislike while inventing the ones that make them feel good.

UPDATE:   Just to convey a sense for how much National Review polemicists care about detainees being denied ICRC access (when it’s the U.S. doing the denying):  the only mention found in NR‘s archives of Dana Priest’s revelation that the U.S. was maintaining a network of secret prisons with no ICRC monitoring was this one by Byron York, in which he suggested that, based on the Plame precedent, the persons responsible for the disclosure — but not the ones denying the ICRC access to detainees — should be prosecuted.  So it’s not really a surprise that Nordlinger managed to remain completely ignorant of what the U.S. did for all those years, since his “political magazine” barely even mentioned it.

June 24, 2010 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering


  1. You can’t pin the delusional label solely on the RIGHT WING of the illegitimate israeli owned and operated slovenly gangbang that is now the U.S. Govt., it’s BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE THAT ARE BARKING MAD FOAMING AT THEIR ISRAELI BLACKMAILED MOUTHS!!

    and Barry Soetoro knows his party is going down in flames if the election happens in November. GOP filth don’t have anything to celebrate…their poll numbers are tanking faster than the DINOcriminals numbers are!

    the old LEFT/RIGHT paradigm is not valid anymore, folks! It’s all one big fat ISRAELI RUN CABAL now, no party differentiation need be applied to it. IT’s an ALL CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT NOW!



  2. I’m slightly confused about which point you’re trying to make.
    Are you saying that the western world was silent about non-Israelis being held without access by the US and Israel, meaning the silence over this one Israeli soldier is actually normal?
    Or are you saying the west wasn’t silent about these things because they are the hallmarks of tyrants, thus making this official hypocritical?
    You can’t have it both ways.


    Comment by dan | July 2, 2010

    • “Silence” about Shalit???

      Dan you need to purchase a television or perhaps buy a newspaper.


      Comment by aletho | July 2, 2010

    • Here’s your silence Dan:

      Jeffrey Blankfort reports on July 1, 2010

      House and Senate pass unanimous resolutions calling for the release of Gilad Shalit. Both passed by unanimous consent. One wonders when the last resolution was passed that even mentioned the name of an American soldier let alone concern for his or her well being.



      Give us a break.


      Comment by aletho | July 2, 2010

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