In the grand tradition of politicians getting hoodwinked by parody websites, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was tricked by the military’s answer to The Onion, The Duffel Blog.
The Duffell Blog is a fake military news site, with headlines like “Army Spends $100M On Piece of Equipment That Doesn’t Do Anything,” “DoD Announces Casualty In War on Christmas” and “Syria to Host Iraq War Reenactors.”
But, as Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room reports:
On November 14, 2012, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote to Elizabeth King, the Pentagon’s congressional liaison, with a an unusually credulous query. “I am writing on behalf of a constituent who has contacted me regarding Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” McConnell wrote in a letter acquired by Danger Room. “I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent’s concerns.”
Um, Guantanamo detainees getting GI Bill benefits? Yes, that’s from the Duffel Blog, as McConnell’s constituent clearly states, complete with the reference URL. Said constituent even notes that he or she can’t find any information about the alleged government payouts to suspected insurgents and terrorists.
From the Duffel Blog‘s post:
DoD Spokesman Wesley Manheim said that it was all a matter of fairness.
“The DoD has been doing everything it can to prevent torture from being used against detainees at GTMO. By allowing the detainees to use the Department of Veterans Affairs, we hope to completely crush their souls with bureaucracy, which to be noted, is completely different from torture. I mean hell, the VA does that to our veterans on a daily basis.”
When pressed as to how the detainees would be able to use the money, Manheim stated, “Mostly through online courses. Probably Phoenix College. Don’t worry, it’s not like they’ll be able to get a REAL degree.”
“The very idea that the U.S. government would extend GI Bill benefits to enemy detainees is a patent absurdity,” Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, the Pentagon’s Guantanamo spokesman, told Danger Room.
“The senator’s office had a request from a constituent asking us to inquire about an issue,” a McConnell spokesman said. “Our office forwarded the constituent’s question to the Defense Department.”