When Artistic Expression Equals Death

The bodies lay where they were moments before innocently creating humor, or so they had thought. Militant Muslims, jihadis, terrorists or Islamists depending on your level of political correctness, had just murdered 12 artists in the offices of the French satirist newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The comic newspaper had published cartoon images of Mohammad, the Muslim prophet, against the threats and warnings of Islamists. Charlie Hebdo had been warned against portraying the religious icon in physical form and against satirizing him. In fact, the paper had suffered a previous terrorist attack several years prior to this one, just nine months ago, but made no accommodation in their artistic expression to the sensitivities of those they knew would be violently offended at their art.

When does basic human decency, and sensitivity to others and the right to freely express oneself meet? When people ignore the entropy of equal parts responsibility with equal parts rights.

We’ve all been scolded at one point or another by a loving parent who taught us at a young age, “Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do something.” Don’t we have a basic human responsibility not to purposely offend others, even if we feel we have a right to do so?

Apparently in the artistic world, limits and self-control do not apply. If they do apply, say militant artists, then it is not free expression and we are doomed as a society if we flinch in the face of bullying and terrorist tactics like those perpetrated against Charlie Hebdo.

In free societies we still have limits. There are limits to free speech in the United States. One cannot yell out “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater if there is no fire without exposing onesself to legal prosecution should their negligence cause injury or property damage or financial loss due to stampeding patrons. One cannot maliciously write libelous and slanderous accusations about someone they don’t like without the potential for legal consequences.

So why is it that some artists feel they are immune to natural and moral limits on their expression?

In the Manhattan, New York, Park Avenue Armory, a military drill hall turned performance space, artist Laurie Anderson has created a multi-media expression of art that is highly offensive to a vulnerable segment of our society.

Ms. Anderson’s show includes the live projected image of a released Guantanamo Bay detainee by the name of Mohammed el Gharani. Gharani also speaks to the audience who roam the space, listening to Ms. Anderson’s music and Mr. Gharani’s “stories.” He is physically in West Africa, but his image is projected onto a white plaster likeness of a human being, presenting the frightening perception of his physical presence here, live, in the place where soldiers once trained and near the place where Mr. Gharani’s colleagues, on 9/11/01 destroyed more lives and property than did our enemies in WWII at Pearl Harbor and on the beaches of Normandy, France, on December 7, 1941 and June 6, 1944, respectively.

This would be like allowing neo-Nazi’s to perform mock executions of Jews in the preserved remains of Auchwitz, Poland, in the name of artistic expression.

Gharani’s stories include those of his alleged poor treatment at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, also known as Gitmo. In fact, Mr. Gharani was treated with dignity and respect from his very first steps into Camp X-Ray on February 8, 2002. I know because I was there, as the ranking U.S. Army Medical Department officer with the Joint Detainee Operations Group, Joint Task Force 160, seeing to his treatment after he fell/fainted in the detainee shower during his in-processing.

Mr. Gharani impressed me and my medical colleagues as a liar, someone who was behaving as the Al Qaeda manual on how to act when captured instructed him to – including disruption of detention operations, faking injuries, lying about treatment, claiming to have been tortured, hunger strikes, and lawyering up as soon as possible. I write explicitly about this encounter in my memoir, “Saving Grace a t Guantanamo Bay.”

Mr. Gharani had been captured in the Tora Bora section of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in the fall of 2001, after U.S. and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan in an effort to destroy Al Qaeda the Taliban and then bring AQ’s leader, Usamma bin Laden to justice.

Gharani has a Department of Defense rap sheet ten pages long, and is a trained Al Qaeda foot soldier, suicide bomber and high level courier who interacted with bin Laden, and who was captured while engaged in hostilities toward the U.S. and coalition forces.

Lest we forget, these actions by the U.S. and later up to 39 other countries, were in response to the Al Qaeda’s planned and executed attack of September 11, 2001, which saw the murder of over 3,000 men, women and children, and the destruction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the very city where Ms. Anderson is producing her feckless show.

Insult to injury is the purpose and method of her insidious performance. Not too far from Ground Zero and the monuments and memorials of the dead from 9/11/, and housed in the hallowed space where a museum and artifacts of New York’s storied 42nd Infantry Division are preserved, and in fact in the place where I served military duty as a combat medic during the First Gulf War in 1991, Ms. Anderson is pulling off the perception of having a freed Gitmo detainee appear on U.S. soil.

It is illegal for Gharani, a former detainee, to be present in the United States, and this performance flaunts the spirit of that law, on purpose. And in so doing, Ms. Anderson rips open sensitive wounds of the victims of terror, their families and loved ones, of veterans and military personnel, and the memory and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in defense of this great nation so that people like Ms. Anderson could enjoy the benefits and privilege of freedom of expression.

This betrayal is on the same scale as that of (Hanoi) Jane Fonda’s stunt during the Vietnam War when she visited our enemies in Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, while U.S. soldiers were being killed by North Vietnamese soldiers in the jungles of South Vietnam. Ms. Fonda was protesting the war, but at the same time giving aid and comfort to the enemy. To this day I have no idea why she was let back into the United States and then not prosecuted for treason – or at least a civilian version of “misbehavior before the enemy,” a military charge facing accused Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

Where does freedom of expression and artistic license end and common decency and respect to the sensitivities of others begin? Does it exist at all? Should it?

The Golden Rule of treating others the way you want to be treated, the foundation of the Judeo/Christian ethic that founded this great nation of ours, is being ignored, in favor of Ms. Anderson’s Pagan, utilitarian, humanist ethic of, “if it feels good, do it,” and “if it’s useful to ME, it is good.”

The result is damage to the hearts and souls of those who are rightfully offended at this insensitive mockery of the meaning and purpose of all that is good and wholesome about our country, our military and our City of New York.

Haven’t we all suffered enough? Must we continue to endure the irresponsible slings and arrows of self-righteous artists who claim the moral high ground by glorifying our enemies?

What’s next, Laurie, a candlelight vigil for the 19 highjackers at Ground Zero?

God forbid this artistic expression inspires the next senseless act of terror.Gharani.2Gharani.3

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001 in New York City. The crash of two airliners hijacked by terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and subsequent collapse of the twin towers killed some 2,800 people. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 11: Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001 in New York City. The crash of two airliners hijacked by terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and subsequent collapse of the twin towers killed some 2,800 people. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This photo made during an escorted visit and reviewed by the US military, shows the razor wire-topped fence and a watch tower at the abandoned

This photo made during an escorted visit and reviewed by the US military, shows the razor wire-topped fence and a watch tower at the abandoned “Camp X-Ray” detention facility at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

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Convicted Terrorists: Your Next-Door Neighbors?

Son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recently convicted of providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorism and conspiring to kill Americans, in a federal criminal courtroom in New York City, was “the most senior Bin Laden confederate to be tried in a civilian court in the United States since September 11.”

The liberal left were unabashedly gleeful at the conviction, not because justice had been done, but that the trial took place on U.S. soil rather than by Military Commission at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Location, location, location. This mantra is not lost on liberal Islamist apologists who act as though anyone ever held at Gitmo or accused of terrorism should be freed and compensated. This is similar to the 16 British nationals, including Moazzam Begg, who were awarded nearly 1 million pounds sterling each rather then be put on trial, which the British government said would have been “extremely expensive” and may have compromised “national security,” to hell with principle and true justice.

In this undated image made from video and provided by by Al-Jazeera, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is shown. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman still maintains that there was justification for the September 11, 2001 attacks orchestrated by al-Qaida upon the United States. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera)

With the conviction of Abu Ghaith, we see repetitive behavior from the Obama administration with relation to giving aid and comfort to the enemy – this time in the form of a federal criminal court which could give him a light sentence and see him free to re-join his released and never caught brothers in years to come.

According to Human Rights First, the U.S. federal criminal courts have “convicted nearly 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges” since Sept. 11, 2001, yet there are only “over 300 individuals” in federal prisons on terrorism-related convictions.

My question is, where are the other nearly 200 terrorist convicts?

Were they deported? Did they go home? Did they go back to a life of jihad? Are they in your neighborhood?

We know some of the released Gitmo detainees have returned to the battlefield, such as Abu Sufian Bin Qumu, who planned and participated in the Benghazi attack which resulted in the murders of four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador to Lybia, Christopher Stevens. But the statistics on Gitmo recidivism, now at 29 percent according to the Director of National Intelligence, belie a troubling trend; releasing the enemy does not increase our safety.

Getty Images

But because “there is no defined entity responsible for convicted and released terrorists,” no one knows how many of these released federally convicted terrorists have gone back to the fight, have turned over a new leaf, or are living in your neighborhood waiting for the next call from Allah to strike.

This is the epitome of left liberal Islamist apologist Pagan humanist utilitarian sentiment towards the enemy in the Global War on Terror.

Logic says that the number of terrorists caught represents only a tiny percentage of all terrorists. Imagine then if you will that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the living of the two brothers who set off the bombs in last year’s Boston Marathon massacre, had not been caught. Let’s say he was still out there on the loose, plotting his next attack.

How “safe” would you feel if you were a Boston resident knowing this accomplished terrorist was free? How safe would you feel living ANYWHERE if Tsarnaev were free?

How do you feel about nearly 200 federally convicted terrorists that are now on the loose, legally? How about the 170-plus recidivists from the over 600 released Guantanamo Bay detainees?

In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, right, speaks with lawyer and U.S. Marine Corps Major Derek Poteet, a member of his legal team, while wearing a camouflage vest during the third day of the Military Commissions pretrial hearing against the five Guantanamo prisoners accused of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has told authorities he was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 hijacking plot, wore the woodland-style camouflage vest for the first time Wednesday, a clothing choice previously denied because of fears it might disrupt the court. Co-accused Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali is seen in the background, second from left. Photo Credit: Janet Hamlin/AP

Say what you want about Gitmo, or our federal prisons, but none of the Gitmo detainees or federal terrorism convicts have been executed, beheaded, hacked-to-death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets, like those of us they have caught or targeted with planes, bombs, explosive belts, vests or long knives and meat cleavers.

The fate of the likes of Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by Khalid Sheik Mohammad while being filmed on video, is an example of the barbarity of the Islamists who want us all dead, and are the opposite of remorseful. In fact, they consider beheading or hacking to death of “infidels” to be a religious prerogative and duty, such as revealed in the statements made by the assailants of murdered British soldier, Lee Rigbyadmitting they were “Soldier[s] of Allah,” and that Rigby’s murder was “an eye for an eye.”

So-called human rights organizations, leftist Islamist apologists, and others who believe the U.S. must be a “beacon” for human rights don’t like to talk about the Daniel Pearl’s, the Lee Rigby’s or other victims of terror. They only want to discuss how “proud” they are that “justice” was done in the U.S. criminal courts.

They don’t care about how many convicted terrorists have been released, or about how many Gitmo detainees have been released and then have returned to the battlefield, because that would ruin their fantasies about righteous humanism, which is more devoid of moral foundation than had the September 11 terrorists.

We are not dealing with jaywalkers here, or even bank robbers. We are dealing with hard, cold, calculating murderers who have declared war on western civilization, making themselves unlawful combatants.

It’s not that the Taliban and al Qaeda can’t afford uniforms of their own, it’s that they CHOOSE to not let you see them coming. The Geneva Conventions were written to protect innocent civilians and property in time of war, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to MURDER them. They are attacking overtly and covertly in an effort to TERRORIZE “non-believers” into accepting Sharia Law, and those who oppose them are better off dead. Simply, they are terrorists and should be tried in military commissions, not federal criminal courts.

How comforting is it to hundreds of the enemy that they are released to fight again, and to perhaps run off to a place like where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found, in your own backyard?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter: @mjgranger1

America Loves Defending What’s Right In A Fight

Barack Hussein Obama began his speech on national security by saying “Americans are deeply ambivalent about war.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In defending what’s right, Americans love a good fight. It’s what makes us who we are. The “ugly American” abroad has always come through on the battlefield, and it’s only been politics and the media who have defeated the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. In his speech on May 23, at the National Defense University, the President wanted us to believe that we could win the War on Terror simply be staying the course, wrapping up here and there, and that everything would be as it was “prior to 9/11.” Really? And prior to 9/11 we were safe? Whilst Islamist extremists, especially al Qaeda were strengthening, and we were turning a blind eye to multiple attacks on our ships, embassies and personnel, the threat grew. I have never doubted that the “tip of the spear” in the Global War on Terror has been our special forces & the CIA, our Shadow Warriors & Spooks, as it should be. But these bravest of Americans need a support system. We need the power and influence to suppress adversaries, and we need it close to where the bad guys are. We needed to keep bases in Iraq, instead the President threw that country to the wolves – Iran, al Qaeda and other Islamists – who are now supporting the Assad regime in Syria, and further destabilizing Iraq. We need to maintain bases in Afghanistan, which is poised to rise as the regional leader in democracy, long into the future. We need better relations with Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries in the region so as to maintain the pressure on Islamist groups there and in surrounding areas. Our forces need logistical power projection platforms from which to launch and then support freedom-fighting missions. The President failed to mention we have troops in 70 countries, CIA operatives in over 90 countries and Diplomatic Security Service agents in over 200 countries world wide, all with one thing on their plates: defend the interests of the United States of America. The days of huge battlefields and tremendous casualties and destruction are virtually over. The fight is now played out on the Internet, in remote locations, and in limited ways on the streets of our great cities. Saying we should be concerned about a “legacy problem” instead of turning up the heat on our adversaries speaks only to our president’s desperation to build his own legacy, not that for our children. Saying the military detention facility at Guantanamo “has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” and that “our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at Gitmo,” is cheap brinkmanship about a place and process that, before his meandering legal giveaway to unlawful combatants of extra legal privileges they did not deserve in the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2009, is completely legal, moral and ethical. The same laws, policies and procedures that were in place at Gitmo when it opened in late 2001 – early 2002, were virtually unchanged since the Second World War, when from capture to execution it took the government about four weeks to prosecute 8 German saboteurs caught dry-foot on U.S. soil, using a Supreme Court approved Military Commission and having suspended habeas corpus for the enemy. In WWII, the U.S. held over 400,000 lawful combatant POWs without one call for extra legal privileges for them, and they were all released, as per the law, when hostilities ended. The same happened in 1991, when after a brief but hard fought First Gulf War against Iraq, we released thousands of lawful combatant Iraqi POWs within days after the end of hostilities. The Geneva Conventions and Law of Land Warfare were written to protect innocent civilians in time of war, not to protect those who would pretend to be civilians in order to murder them. The laws still apply, but because of the 2009 MCA all detainees enjoy the same legal protections you or I would have in a Federal Court of Law. Detainees charged with war crimes enjoy the presumption of innocence, and the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of conviction. Non government organizations count higher body counts of civilians killed in war, by conventional as well as by drone technology, because our enemies don’t wear uniforms, rank, or carry their weapons openly; they are in effect “civilians” to anyone who lays eyes on them. But the reality is they are unlawful combatants, flauting the rule of law and manipulating it and those who sympathize with them in order to bend the political will of the Unites States and anyone else who will listen. The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is not a person. It is a place, and no matter how hard they try, Pagan utilitarian humanist Islamist apologists and terrorists cannot change the fact that it is also legal, humane and ethical. Self-starving Gitmo detainees are using a known al Qaeda detention disruption technique in an effort to manipulate U.S. political will. There are no U.S. military medical protocols that authorize us to allow detainees to hurt themselves. And in fact, they will tell you that the point of their self-starvation is not to die, but to gain sympathies, and these sympathies are aimed at manipulating U.S. government political will in order to effect their release so that they can get back into the fight. There is a documented recidivism rate of released Gitmo detainees of at least 27%. One of these recidivists, known as Bin Qumu, led the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This is unacceptable. Knowing this, and knowing the probability that many of the current Gitmo detainees “cleared” for release will return to Islamist extremism once let go, doing so would be tantamount to giving the enemy aid and comfort – treason. The comments from the President on Guantanamo are misguided at best, and treasonous at worst. Not only do we have to fight and stay one step ahead of an insidious enemy, but we must do so with one hand tied behind our back because of our President’s relentless assault on our proven, legal, moral, and ethical operation at Guantanamo Bay. Gitmo needs to remain open as long as we continue our struggle with Islamist extremists. We need to maintain as many bases around the world as is necessary to support our clandestine and overt operations. We need to take and then hold the high ground in the Global War on Terror, such as maintaining good working relationships for military bases (back) in Iraq and in Afghanistan; like we still have in countries we defeated in WWII, such as Germany, Japan, and Italy. We are strong, we are winning, and now we need to close the battle with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and groups that support and mimic them. Keeping Gitmo open and then using the base to prosecute through military commissions those who are suspected of war crimes, and to keep other detainees out of the fight until hostilities end, just like the International laws on warfare stipulate we may do even if the detainees were lawful combatant POWs, will allow us to live in peace. Americans love defending what’s right in a fight, but even more, we love to win!