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Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Steiger Are Skeptical About Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Huffington Post | March 16, 2007
Rachel Sklar

Yesterday, news broke that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed , lieutenant of Osama bin Laden , had confessed to masterminding and committing a long list of terrorist acts , including 9/11, the Bali bombing, and the violent murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl . He also led plots to assassinate Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton , and the Pope . Mohammed, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2003, said that his confessions had not been made under duress. Still, he confessed to a whole lot of stuff . Which has made some people raise an eyebrow.

One of those people was Rosie O'Donnell on The View , who seemed troubled by his long period of captivity and more than a bit skeptical:

I think the man has been in custody of the American government, in secret CIA torture prisons in Guantanamo Bay, where torture is accepted and allowed, and he finally is the guy who admits to doing everything. They finally found the guy. It's not that guy bin Laden. It's this guy they've had since '93. And look, this is the picture they released of him. Doesn't he look healthy?

Similarly, WSJ managing editor, expressed some skepticism to E&P's Joe Strupp : "We don't know the circumstance of what he is saying," Steiger said. "You don't know what might be boasting, what might be coercion." In that respect, he agreed with Elisabeth Hasselbeck , with whom Rosie had this exchange :

O'DONNELL: After hood on his head and beaten to death.

HASSELBECK: Do you know that a hood was on his head that he was beaten?

O'DONNELL: Oh dear God, Elisabeth.

HASSELBECK: He's still alive.

O'DONNELL: Why, since March 2003 has he not admitted it until now?

These are a lot of questions. What might be boasting? What might be coercion? Was he coerced? Was he tortured? Do authorities have any independent confirmation? Has he confessed to anything that was not public knowledge? Has he given up any information leading to future arrests? It seems that these are questions that are germane to those on both the right and the left, who, rightly, would seek to make decisions based on the fullest possible information, rather than assumptions based on a partial release of facts. Okay that might be giving Rosie the benefit of the doubt; according to the transcript at Newsbusters (and the video here at Hot Air), she sorta seems to be coming down on the side of KSM-as-victim, which not surprisingly doesn't make her too popular around those parts. (According to Council on Global Terrorism director Justine Rosenthal , with the appropriate torture-related caveats , "the confession is reasonable and certainly fits with what we know"). But then again, that's only what we know, since "[o]ther parts of the transcript were redacted by the military, and there were suggestions in it that Mr. Mohammed contended he was mistreated while in the custody of the C.I.A." And then of course there's this, per the NYT :

By tribunal rules, Mr. Mohammed was aided by a "personal representative," not a lawyer. His attempt to call two witnesses was denied. And the tribunal indicated that it would consider classified evidence not made available to Mr. Mohammed.

So really, it's very difficult to assert anything with certainty right now. But it's a little disquieting to listen to the laugher of the View audience and they try to figure out what they should be cheering for and what should bother them.




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