Frist et al describe the problem with Durbin’s message

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for this copy. Hugh also notes that The Minneapolis Star Tribune says “Durbin was spot on in his assessment of Guantanamo. That’s why he was so roundly attacked. He told the truth.”

When you compare the newspaper’s views with that of history, such as described below.

“June 20, 2005
The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate

Dear Senator Reid:

We call upon you to encourage Senator Richard Durbin, the Senate Democratic Whip, to apologize for and withdraw his remarks made on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 14 likening the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and other U.S. Government civilian employees defending America’s freedom to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concerns for human beings.” Such language and comparisons are inappropriate, unwarranted, disrespectful, and dangerous.

Referring to one person’s characterization of treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Senator Durbin said:

“When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [Guantanamo Bay] — I almost hesitate to put them in the Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

‘On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold . . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.’

“If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.” (emphasis added)

Such hyperbolic, insensitive, and inaccurate statements should not be spoken on the Senate floor. As numerous Senators collectively noted on the Senate floor on June 16, such statements:

· Tarnish the U.S. Senate as an institution by making comparisons of U.S. actions taken against the Nation’s enemies and in accordance with U.S. and international law, i.e., the Geneva Conventions, to those of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Pol-Pot, who slaughtered tens of millions of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, for reasons such as racism and political ideology.

· Insult and demoralize the overwhelming majority of U.S. soldiers and civilian employees honorably defending America.

· Exacerbate the terrorist threat against Americans by providing “evidence” of what they claim are reasons for attacking us. (The Arab media were quick to publicize the criticisms.)

· Are unproven and part of a legal investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense.

· Deny due process legal rights to those alleged of committing abuses (by presuming guilt upon the accused party).

On June 16, Senator John Warner (R-VA), seeking to clarify the “Nazi” reference as well as to obtain a formal apology from him, engaged in floor debate with Senator Durbin and said:

“I go back on my own recollections [of] those three examples the Senator used. I don’t know what interrogation took place. Perhaps if we go into the sinews of history there were some, but what the world recognized from those three examples the Senator used, they were death camps — I repeat, death camps — where, as my colleague from Kentucky very accurately said, millions of people perished. It is doubtful they were ever often asked their names.

“To say that the allegations of a single FBI agent mentioned in an unconfirmed, uncorroborated report give rise to coming to the Senate and raising the allegation that whatever persons of the uniformed military, as referred to in that report — albeit, uncorroborated, unsubstantiated report — are to be equated with those three chapters in world history is just a most grievous misjudgment on the Senator’s part, and one I think is deserving of apologizing to the men and women in uniform.”

Subsequent statements by Senator Durbin indicate only that he was regretful if people misunderstood his remarks. We do not believe his remarks were misunderstood.

In deference to the Senate as an institution for which we serve and to the millions of men and women currently serving this Nation in uniform and civilian dress for which we owe so much in the War on Terrorism, we ask Senator Durbin to issue a formal apology and strike his remarks from the record.”

Signed by Senators Frist, McConnell, Santorum, Hutchinson, Kyl and Dole.

As illustrated by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Durbin Defense League is coming to full throat and flower. The brouhaha is being blamed on a VRWC (vast right wing conspiracy) or an attempt to change the subject or an attempt to divert attention from issues that reflect poorly on Republicans or on media bias (although the MSM has downplayed the issue). Durbin is being plauded for standing up to evil and telling it like it is in their imaginations.

An apology, of sorts, has been offered by Durbin. It remains to be seen if this makes any difference.

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