Heckuva Job, Karen

From Holden:

So glad the adults are in charge.

The Bush administration distanced itself Monday from remarks by a U.S. diplomat that the weekend suicides of three Arab detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison were a “good P.R. move.”

“I would just point out in public that we would not say that it was a P.R. stunt,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, using the abbreviation for public relations. “We have serious concerns anytime anybody takes their own life.”

Colleen Graffy, deputy assistant U.S. secretary of state for public diplomacy, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the deaths at the U.S.-run camp in Cuba were a “good P.R. move to draw attention.”


Graffy’s unscripted remarks threw a monkey wrench in the administration’s careful plan to demonstrate concern over the deaths and respond to rising criticism of the U.S. operation of the prison.


Graffy’s boss, Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, is charged with improving the U.S. image in the Arab world. The former White House communications adviser and longtime Bush aide heads an office at the State Department that monitors and quickly responds to inaccurate or distorted portrayals of U.S. views and actions in the Arab media.

Graffy’s remarks were quickly picked up in the Arab press.

“Her comments quickly appeared to be bad P.R. moves for the U.S. administration,” an article on the Web site of Lebanon’s The Daily Star newspaper said.


Graffy’s remarks were sharper than those of other U.S. officials, but not entirely off-message. The camp commander at Guantanamo, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, told reporters Sunday that the detainees “have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own.”

“I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us,” Harris said.