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Reuters' Freeland Refers to Gitmo as Part of 'American Gulag Archipelago'

On Monday's The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, Reuters' Chrystia Freeland decried what she termed as the "American 'gulag archipelago'." Her remark followed a discussion on the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

"What I thought of when we got this data dump, when we're talking about the budget, which is surely an issue - why aren't we talking about American prisons, and the whole, you know, American 'gulag archipelago,' which is hugely expensive?" Freeland asked.

"Surely this is a moment for right and left to come together and say 'we're spending so much money on jails. We're clearly not getting it right'," the liberal Reuters editor added. The "gulag archipelago" comment refers to the title of the 1973 book by former Soviet gulag prisoner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who revealed in his work the origins and details of the Soviet prison camp system.

The MSNBC panel was discussing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and whether or not the U.S. fully knows the actual crimes of the detainees. Sam Seder, the liberal host of the talk show "The Majority Report," argued that one of the detainees who was released went on not to terrorism, but to support the rebels in Libya. Seriously or not, Freeland exclaimed "he's a freedom fighter!"

Freeland also failed to recognize the term "truther" during the segment, having to ask host Dylan Ratigan to explain the term before remarking that "there aren't that many."

When the Daily Caller's Matt Lewis brought up the term, Freeland had a look of confusion on her face. "Is 'truther' - is 'truther' like your answer to 'birther'?" she asked the panel. "A 'truther' is a 'birther' for 9/11, who believes 9/11 was an inside job," answered Dylan Ratigan.

"There aren't that many," Freeland said dubiously.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 25 at 4:15 EDT, is as follows:

DYLAN RATIGAN: Let's talk about the - Gitmo, for a second. The WikiLeaks dump, talking about, you know, who visited who, foreign intelligence officials, Saudi officials coming to visit detainees. The thing that struck me when we were sort of sifting through this this afternoon - at the same time we were obviously talking about Assad, and Qaddafi, and all the other people that we were just talking about at the beginning of the show - is, is there actually a difference between the people that we have at Gitmo and the people who are running the countries in the Middle East, Matt Lewis?

MATT LEWIS, the Daily Caller: Well I think so. I mean look, we started off with I think 779 detainees. We're down to about 172. 42 that we let go ended up being terrorists or insurgents again, and a lot of the people that we're holding currently are Yemenis who actually we would return to Yemen if it weren't for the instability. So I think right now, you have the worst of the worst, and these are pretty bad mo-fos.

RATIGAN: But how are those people - how are those bad mo-fos any worse then Qaddafi or Assad?

(...)

LEWIS: One of the things that we do know, and this - actually this does not paint America in a great light here, is that 42 of the detainees that were released went out and committed acts of terrorism or were part of an insurgency. So I mean, essentially, I mean that's not really a great defense of what we're doing.

SAM SEDER, host, "The Majority Report": Well, I mean, first off - first off I'd like to see - first off, I'd like to see how that's defined. I mean, what does insurgency - there's a story, one of the guys we released is now one of the rebels in Libya that we're supporting.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, Reuters global editor-at-large: He's a freedom fighter!

SEDER: Exactly. And we've got guys in there that we've held for nine years, and after nine years we're still not even sure of their identity. I mean, so what it shows is that we've created this extra-judicial, sort of, black hole -

LEWIS: Let me tell you something great - something great that came from this, though.

SEDER: - we know nothing about these people, we know nothing about these people, and what we're doing is simply destroying the principles that this country was founded on.

LEWIS: The "truthers" -

RATIGAN: You disagree with that?

LEWIS: I'll tell you what I like about this whole WikiLeaks thing, and I've been opposed to it as you know. But here's something good about it, because I'm guessing a lot of the people cheering on WikiLeaks are also "truthers." This really blows - you can't really blow away, you can't be a 9/11 "truther," right? You can't think that this was an inside job and also read these WikiLeaks, because it's also very obvious -

FREELAND: Is "truther" - is "truther" like your answer to "birther"?

RATIGAN: A "truther" is a "birther" for 9/11, who believes 9/11 was an inside job.

(Crosstalk)

FREELAND: There aren't that many -

(Crosstalk)

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: I would like, maybe in conclusion, to connect this to one of your favorite obsessions, Dylan, which is the budget debate. And what I thought of when we got this data dump, when we're talking about the budget, which is surely an issue, why aren't we talking about American prisons, and the whole, you know, American "gulag archipelago," which is hugely expensive? Surely this is a moment for right and left to come together and say: we're spending so much money on jails. We're clearly not getting it right -

- Matt Hadro is as News Analyst at the Media Research Center.