American diplomat and former Santa Barbara resident Colleen
Graffy found herself in hot water this weekend after telling BBC
reporters that last week’s suicides by three prisoners at the
United States’ controversial Guantanamo Bay military prison
constituted “a good PR move,” designed to “further the jihadi
cause.” Graffy, the daughter of former Santa Barbara county
supervisor Jeanne Graffy, works for former Bush adviser and
confidante Karen Hughes, who is charged with improving the U.S.
reputation in the Arab world. Graffy’s off-the-cuff remarks –
delivered as part of a background briefing – were seized upon by
many Arab news outlets before the State Department launched a
damage-control response. State Department spokesperson Sean
McCormack disavowed Graffy’s remarks, stating, “We have serious
concerns anytime anybody takes his/her own life.” Currently 460
prisoners are held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo for
suspected ties to Al Qaeda or the Taliban; after four years in
operation, only 10 have been charged. Human rights critics of the
Bush administration said last week’s suicides highlight the
desperate conditions inside the prison, the object of increasing
concern among religious and humanitarian groups worldwide. But the
commander of the prison dismissed the suicides as “an act of
asymmetrical warfare,” rather than evidence of despair.


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