Mark Steyn just got back from visiting Gitmo. He appears to be taking issue with Senator Patrick Leahy's stance on the terrorist bill that was approved by the Senate this past week.
'This is not just a bad bill," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. ''This is truly a dangerous bill." And it's not just a dangerous bill. It's also "unconstitutional" and "unconscionable" and represents the loss of the nation's "moral compass."
Wow! That's quite a lot for a humble bill on military trials for terrorist (OK, "alleged terrorist") detainees. But Vermont's lefty colossus wasn't done yet in his excoriation of the Bush administration. "Even they cannot dismiss the practices at Guantanamo as the actions of a few bad people," he continued. "Before they just did it quietly, and against the law, on their own say-so, but now they are obtaining license to engage in additional harsh techniques that the rest of the world will see as abusive, as cruel, as degrading and even as torture."
Hmm. I should say a word about "the practices at Guantanamo." As it happens, I've just got back from Gitmo. (That glitch on my green card was finally straightened out.) I've visited several prisons in several countries over the years and never seen anything like this one. Granted, most of what I know about enemy detainee camps comes from what Rear Adm. Harry Harris, who runs Guantanamo, calls "bad movies and worse TV shows," and from a distance very little seems to have changed: the basic look -- barbed wire and watch towers -- would be recognizable to any World War II POWs. But, close up, pretty much everything else has been flushed down the toilet of history. Indeed, even the toilet has been flushed down the toilet of history: In the interests of cultural sensitivity, Gitmo cells were fitted with "Asian-style toilets," because "that's what the detainees prefer." Given that much of the matter that should be going down there ends up being flung over the guards, it seems that this sensitivity over choice of bathroom fixtures is not always appreciated. When visitors like yours truly swing by, the camp likes to serve them the same meal the prisoners get. This being Ramadan, Adm. Harris was particularly proud of the fresh-baked traditional pastries his team had made for the holy month. And he was right: The baklava was delicious. "Baklava" is said by some linguists to come from the Arabic for "nuts" -- and, indeed, in that sense this entire war can sometimes seem like one giant baklava. There was a film out earlier this year called ''The Road To Guantanamo,'' and the poster showed the usual emaciated prisoner hung by shackles against a dungeon wall. No doubt the actor in question did the full Robert De Niro and lost 40 pounds to get himself looking that cadaverous.