September 7, 2006
New York Times
To the Editor:
Your September 7, 2006 editorial, “A Sudden Sense of Urgency,” asserts that the recent transfer of 14 CIA prisoners means that “President Bush finally has some real terrorists in Guantánamo Bay.” This merits a correction.
Since its inception, terrorists that have been held at Guantánamo Bay have included personal bodyguards of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda recruiters, trainers, and facilitators. One notable individual held at Guantánamo was Mohamed al-Kahtani, believed to be the intended 20th hijacker on September 11th.
That many of these men are terrorists intent on doing America harm is not a simply an assertion made by the U.S. government, but something many detainees themselves have claimed, indeed boasted about. For example, in open commission hearings on March 1, Mr. Al Bahlul boasted five times that he was a member of Al Qaeda involved in an ongoing war against America. In open commission hearings on April 27, Mr. Al Sharbi said, “I’m going to make this easy for you guys: I’m proud of what I did and there isn’t any reason of hiding … I fought against the United Stated. I took up arms.”
It is unfortunate that one of America’s largest newspapers concludes these men are not “real terrorists.”
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Dear Mr. Kenney [who transmitted the letter]:
Thank you for the letter, but we respectfully pass. We do not see the need for a correction, as the phrase in question was meant to be somewhat lighthearted in tone and not literal.