Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Shocking Even the Brits


Victoria Brittain writes entertainingly in Tuesday’s Guardian about a British radio interview with Colleen P. Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at State and a longtime London resident. Graffy was apparently on air to counter negative perceptions relating to the latest Guantánamo detainee scandal: force-feeding.

Graffy ... was in London last week on a propaganda offensive. Ms Graffy had visited Guantánamo and witnessed no unpleasant interrogation, no torture and plenty of sports facilities, she told Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. The imperturbable Vine was speechless when she drew from her bag a sample tube used for force-feeding prisoners and explained to him that it had no metal edges and was therefore humane.

I didn’t hear the Graffy interview and don’t know whether Jeremy Vine is imperturbable. Brittain herself is a partisan of the detainees, considering that she has just written Enemy Combatants with a detainee named Moazzam Begg, so her writing on the subject should be taken with a grain of salt.

But still: No one, absolutely no one, cares whether any force-feeding that occurred was provably “humane.” It is not even beside the point, from a public diplomacy perspective, to mention that a force-feeding tube won’t damage the body it is used on. All that anyone will care about is that force was used the quell the only protest that detainees—criminals or not, terrorists or not, enemy combatants or not—have remaining to them.

The fact that someone in Graffy’s orbit went to the trouble to ship a feeding tube to England, thinking that this would somehow score points in the sphere of public diplomacy with our allies, doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

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