Nicholas Kristof's Sunday column on Guantanamo prisoners, "A Prison of Shame, and It's Ours," makes the case, in typically arch prose, that his New York Times colleague Barry Bearak got off easy. The Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe imprisoned Bearak in disgusting conditions for four days, but Kristof thought it could have been worse: It could have been Guantanamo Bay.
My Times colleague Barry Bearak was imprisoned by the brutal regime in Zimbabwe last month. Barry was not beaten, but he was infected with scabies while in a bug-infested jail. He was finally brought before a court after four nights in jail and then released.
Alas, we don't treat our own inmates in Guantánamo with even that much respect for law. On Thursday, America released Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who had been held without charges for more than six years. Mr. Hajj has credibly alleged that he was beaten, and that he was punished for a hunger strike by having feeding tubes forcibly inserted in his nose and throat without lubricant, so as to rub tissue raw.
The New York Times's liberal readership surely got indigestion over Tuesday's lead story from Baghdad by Damien Cave and Alissa Rubin, "Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves." It's even accompanied by three photos of normal life in the Iraqi capital.
Yes, this is the same New York Times that declared less than a month ago in the lead sentence to a lead editorial:
"The news out of Iraq just keeps getting worse."
But on Tuesday the Times made a public bow to the improving reality in Iraq, admitting:
"The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.