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Friday, July 22, 2005

Did Simmons try the rice at Gitmo?

The New London Day Columnist David Collins explains

At first it was hard to imagine even Rob Simmons, great apologist for the sins of the Bush administration, coming back from Guantanamo Bay, a place Amnesty International has branded the "gulag of our time", praising the food.

And of course just one day after Simmons delivered his sunny report from the interrogation chambers at Guantanamo, a new military report to the Senate disclosed more findings of “abusive and degrading” treatment of prisoners there.

The military couldn't find evidence of the specific acts of torture alleged by the FBI, but found enough inhumane treatment of the terminally detained there to embarrass all but the most hardened governments. How could Simmons be talking about the same place?

That's when I realized what was wrong here. Turns out the congressman wasn't in Cuba at all. You see Simmons told aides he wanted to visit that gated offshore community where he's been helping to funnel millions of federal dollars to make infrastructure improvements and fight the war on terror.

So they sent him to Fishers Island. No wonder he had such a good time.

Nothing explains this better, of course, than the congressman's report on the food, what he thought was a typical detainee's meal.

What could be more natural than being served, in some dusty old dining room in one of the island's big shingle piles, the “tasty” gravy over Swiss steak — with wax beans and white rice — that he described?

And all this, no doubt, after a pitcher of dry martinis and a bowl of Goldfish.


Of course Rob Simmons would always get a warm welcome on Fishers Island. He boasts of securing $4.75 million in federal funds to build a terminal in New London for the ferry service to Fishers, an island that limits public access.

When the more populist-leaning Block Island ferry got $17,500 in Homeland Security grants for port security two years ago, the Fishers Island ferry got $300,000. The Long Island ferry, which carries routine traffic from Connecticut, got $56,000.

This is sort of like the War on Terror's equivalent of another Simmons favorite: tax cuts for the very rich.

Ouch, busted.