Club Fed and Our Invisible Troops


by David H. Hackworth

The brouhaha created by breast-beating human-rights groups over our military's treatment of the terrorist scuzz now vacationing at the Pentagon's recently opened Cuban Club Fed -- eagerly aided and abetted by a press too prone to the sensational -- is something else. These bleeding hearts claim we're brutalizing the captives by forcing them to wear orange jumpsuits, sleep on mats, exercise daily, shower frequently and eat special food.

My buddy, a Connecticut cop, finds the protests fascinating. He says, "I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating on my job because of the prisoners at Guantanamo."

Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, he adds: "Are they getting enough sleep, the right diet, enough prayer time? We have to keep them happy and healthy. They only want to murder all of us the first chance they get."

Amen. Their perp pal responsible for the first World Trade Center attack jabbed a sharpened comb into a guard's eye while he was in the pokey. This time around, they've already bitten one of the soldiers guarding them and threatened to kill anybody else who gets too close. After all, these are the folks who spent their leisure time back in Afghanistan skinning captives alive -- when they weren't playing soccer with their heads.

Think of them as kamikaze killers looking for an edge.

However you want to categorize these creeps -- who are living a lot better at Club Fed than they ever did in the caves of Tora Bora -- Geneva Convention rules are for uniformed soldiers, not for skyjackers who fly commercial planes filled with moms and dads into office buildings manned by civilians operating computers, or for zealots who kill Arab women because they drive a car or don't cover their faces. Al-Qaida is a terrorist organization, not a state, and its crazies wear street gear and operate disguised as civilians. Terrorists dressed to pass like these were often shot right on the spot during World War II and the Korean War.

I'm personally offended that none of the whistle-blowers seems to give a damn about the welfare or safety of our sons and daughters guarding these thugs. Have you read any stories about the dangers they face? Have any of our politicians bothered to inspect our kids' living conditions when they've jetted into Gitmo to check out the terrorists' treatment and pick up some tube time?

Had anyone checked, they would have discovered that our U.S. Army Military Police guarding the terrorists think the prisoners are being treated a lot better than they are. They're not pleased that the brass, the lawmakers and the press are more interested in the well-being of the detainees than the soldiers guarding them, and that they might as well be invisible.

Here's what our soldiers from the Army's 401st MP Company out of Fort Hood, Texas, who are the main monster-watchers, are saying:

"We live like crap down here with no extra pay or tax break, and we feel that no one up above gives a rat's ass about us," a sergeant says. "Our officers are more concerned with doing Pentagon damage control concerning the detainees than looking after the troops."

"The detainees sleep on soft mats on a nice surfaced floor while we sleep on cots inside tents with dirt floors. They get four hot meals a day, fresh fruit, regular issues of snacks such as sunflower seeds, regular clean clothes laundered by the Marine supply system," says another soldier. "We get canned food and MREs, canned fruit. We buy our own snacks and do our own laundry."

"The Marine general here says we can have a beer when off duty, but our Army leadership is running so scared that it set a no-drinking policy," says another troop. "We are responsible enough to secure the prisoners, but not enough to have a beer."

"The Red Cross put us in a very dangerous situation with their demands, and sadly our leadership went along with it," a soldier said. "We've been told to lie to Marine inspectors over standards and requirements. The Marines are right, the Army's wrong, and we're stuck in the middle."

Maybe someday, do-gooders, editors, lawmakers and senior Army leaders will remember our soldiers are human beings with human rights, too, and get their side of the story. Charity should begin at home.


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(c) 2002 David H. Hackworth
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