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How exactly does "diplomacy" fit into Colleen Graffy's job description?

-- Musclemouth, thanks for raising an interesting question. I got curious and looked up Graffy's official State Department bio. She's an impressive person, but it's hard to see what expertise she has in public communication, program management, or media work. She has some experience with exchanges -- she directed a Pepperdine University Law School year abroad program early in her career, and her bio lists some US-UK legal exchanges -- but basically she's a US-born lawyer who has lived in the UK and practiced law there for about 20 years and whose expertise seems to be international law. To me, that seems like a strange background for Karen Hughes' deputy.

This item also came up in the Google search for Graffy's bio:
"Guantanamo Is Not a Spa, But Neither Is It a Torture Camp" - letter to the editor of The Guardian (UK) from US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy, dated 22 March 2006.

Victoria Brittain rose to defend the innocence of Moazzam Begg from her unbiased position as co-author of Begg's book, Enemy Combatant (Trial by Spin Machine, March 14)....

I came to London on a "detainee propaganda defensive". Before I went to Guantánamo, I had been on Radio 4's Today programme following the "interview" of current detainee Fawzi al-Odah. He described being internally fed "using a thicker tube with a metal edge". The "metal edge" is not exposed metal, as he would want us to believe, but the hospital standard, which is sheathed. It was for this reason that I brought a sample on to Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 programme. Far from Vine being "speechless", as Brittain describes, he said: "It looks like a piece of string."

Al-Odah complained of "lousy food", but the 4,200-calories daily rotating halal menu plan, adjusted during Ramadan, gives a fairer picture; Al-Odah claimed there were "no reading materials", whereas more than 1,800 books and other reading materials in 13 languages are available (including the popular Arabic versions of Agatha Christie and Harry Potter); Al-Odah refers to the "bad medical care", which must include the 45 eye exams per month, full range of immunisation shots, first-class dentistry and colon cancer screening for the over-50s.

Of equal importance to their treatment and living conditions are their habeas corpus rights. Most people are unaware that each detainee has had a combatant status review tribunal to challenge his designation as an enemy combatant as well as a yearly administrative review board, similar to a parole board.

Guantánamo is not a spa, but nor is it an inhumane torture camp. It is a prison - and, as prisons go, it is well run and humane. Before you join the "close it down" chorus, look past the spin to the facts.

I suppose Graffy's rhetoric actually makes sense if you judge it by the standards of legal advocacy. Unfortunately, she's representing the US in the court of public opinion rather than in a court of law, and this kind of talk just backfires in that arena.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a few other NGOs, have designated June Torture Awareness Month. We've created a blogroll you can join if you're interested. You can find it here. The idea is that everyone is linked to from the blogroll, and in exchange, you discuss torture (as you already do), and link to the Torture Awareness site to help support the NGOs.

There's a lot of bloggers concerned about human rights abuse in the War on Terror. If we coordinate, we can show our support and help Amnesty and HRW make Torture Awareness Month a success.

Robert Pell-deChame

TO: [email protected]

Dear Ms. Graffy:

I am writing to you to remark upon the incredibly ignorant statement you made regarding the three recent suicides at Gitmo. The lack of knowledge about the causes of suicide which you demonstrated in your profoundly stupid remarks leaves me breathless for the sheer lack of understanding of an issue which is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. (Anderson RN, Smith BL. Deaths: leading causes for 2001. National Vital Statistics Report 2003;52(9):1-86.), not to mention what incarceration without hope of release for charges unknown must do to a person. How would you like to be locked up without any knowledge of charges against you, in a land not your own, without any sense whether or not you would ever leave alive? Perhaps you should try it.

Annual rates of suicide in this country are over 30,000 per year, more than 650,000 Americans are hospitalized each year following suicide attempts, and over 116,000 are treated in hospital emergency departments for same. Among US males, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for all US men and males are four more times likely to die from suicide than females. And this is not even beginning to quote numbers related to female and teen deaths. But don't take it from me, Ms. Graffy, check out the website of one of your fellow-governmental agencies, the CDC--that's the Centers for Disease Control in case you had failed to note its existence-- . There you will see a tidy introduction to a subject in which you are woefully ignorant and which all your degrees have obviously not prepared you to understand or speak about.

I come from a family which, in the last one hundred years, has experienced over a dozen suicides in its ranks. So, yeh, I tend to be rather sensitive to the issue. We are what you would call patriotic Americans, as a whole, and have done more than our share to contribute to the life of the nation in ways very big and small. To see you liken suicide as an act of warfare against the US would be funny if it were not so cruel and unfeeling. But then, cruel and unfeeling is probably how you have risen to the position you presently enjoy at State.

Do us all a favor, Ms. Graffy, and shut your mouth about subjects for which you are woefully under-qualified and under-experienced to comment. Step outside of your fishbowl of an office and limited circle of acquaintances, take a drive sometime and see the world beyond the Beltway. Touch base with reality. You are in many ways as imprisoned as the people you are verbally abusing at Gitmo.

Very Truly Yours,
Robert Pell-deChame


"...45 eye exams per month, full range of immunisation shots, first-class dentistry and colon cancer screening for the over-50s..."

Hmm. Forty-five eye exams per month. Hmm. Wow. That's a lot of exams. That's about 1.5 eye exams per day. I wonder what a Guantano Bay eye exam would entail.

Immunization shots. A full range, no less. Truth serum? Immunization from having private thoughts.

First-class dentistry. Hmm. Here I can imagine a gleaming silver tray full of ALL KINDS of "dental equipment". This won't hurt but a bit. Still won't talk? Would you rather receive another "full range" of truth serum? Ah, that's more like it.

Colon cancer screenings. I bet it's not just the "over-50s" who get this first-class rape.

Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here. But seriously: 45 eye exams per month? Is that necessary?

Her Guardian article has Newspeak written all over it.

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