Durbin's Remarks Stupid But Criticism is Overblown
Last week, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) made what can only be termed as stupid remarks on the Senate floor concerning prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay. Now politicians and pundits are calling for the Senator’s censure or resignation. William Kristol of The Weekly Standard believes Democrats should strip Durbin of his leadership position.
Frankly, this is all a little overblown. Yes, Durbin made some idiotic remarks. But no, they do not rise to a level necessitating the man be punished. Speaking about specific incidents revealed in an FBI report on Gitmo, Durbin said:
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..
Stupid thing to say. But it absolutely must be noted that Durbin was speaking about specific acts and not making the kind of sweeping and deplorable comparisons recently offered up by Amnesty International (which we strongly criticized).
Durbin was, in fact, referring to parts of the report, such as:
[A] detainee [was] chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18 to 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.
Certainly the infamous tyrants of the 20th century were so systematically evil as to be no possible comparison to modern America, but Durbin wasn’t comparing those tyrants to America. He was comparing chaining a man to a wall until he defecates on himself to the kinds of torture you might find under tyrants. His choice of words were so over-the-top that they sabotaged his point and made him look idiotic, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a right to show a little outrage.
In fact, shouldn’t we all be a little more outraged by what this report contains than by the stupid words one senator used to describe them? Some say the terrorists deserve no better. I say the moment we take one step down the same path our enemy walks then we are losing our way.
Some say these acts were perpetrated by a few bad seeds, the problem has been resolved and lets move on. I believe this wasn’t Pentagon policy and I believe the perpetrators have been appropriately punished. What I don’t believe is that we should just move on. I don’t think something like this should be allowed to happen and pass on without us taking the time as a nation to address it.
The Senate needs to look into how Guantanamo Bay is being run. Criticizing Durbin is certainly appropriate. But obsessing on how best to punish the senator is just a weak attempt to play partisan politics and obscure the real issues.