Monday, June 20, 2005

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.


At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. Durbin's comments may have been over the top, but the incidents described in the FBI document he read, could easily have been misinterpreted as he described.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Jami said...

perfect post. glad to hear it from someone in the middle.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Eliki said...

Ummm, I am sorry, but what was over the top about what he said? Looks to me like he said it plainly. I think people need to get re-sensitized about these sorts of things.

Suspected terrorist and supposed unlawful combatants are not convicted felons, their "cases" are not reviewed by any transparent legal body. I am not comfortable with taking anyone in this administrations "word for it" either.

What is good for the goose must be good for the gander. If we expect or hope for any other people in the world to adopt our "ways of life" then we need to act by example even when it is inconvenient.

**note and disclaimer: if it occurs to you that perhaps the real goal is not to guide by example nor is it for other countries to adopt our "free way of life" but instead adopt our capitalist "way of consuming" then you are just reading between the lines. What's good for the goose is good for ADM, Monsanto, Merkh, Kraft Foods etc...

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Rowland said...

Perfect. TomDeLay steals money and is elevated by his pers. Dick Durbin speaks the truth and is asked to resign?

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Marcelo Daniel said...

Thank you! For a commetary about Senator Durbin's remarks that is actually intelligent and well written. All the punditry that is going on over this, but so few that contain any reasonable discussion or analysis. I like your middle of the road philosophy. Maybe our Senators and Representatives could learn a bunch from this website.

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

His fellow Republicans made Trent Lott step down from his leadership position for remarks that fell far short of Durbin's incendiary remarks, which have been repeated ad infinitum in the Arab media. Calling them "stupid" is giving this ignorant asshole a pass.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Durbin was quoting from unsubstatiated and uninvestigated accusations. That alone makes his actions irresponsible. Trust me, Al Jazeera is not running his comments, and offering "perspective".
It was not an FBI document. it was comments made by one FBI agent, Not in a report. There is no explanation wether the agent was stating what they witnessed or was restating what they were told. There is a huge difference.

when did durbin resign? what jury convicted Delay? comments liek that make people liek you lose all credibility and do nothing productive.

i ahve no clue what your point is.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overblown? Tell that to Al-Jazeera.

At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rowland, you’re the man! I’m not going to comment on whether Dick Durbin spoke the truth or not. His “words” definitely caught my attention and I’m not sure that if I wanted to say that, if I ever would either. But your comment about Tom DeLay was profoundly ‘right on’.

To take this further, try looking at the way it played out. To me, it was more intimidation rather than constructive criticism towards Dick Durbin. As mentioned in some columns, he is expected to keep his position, so what was really accomplished in the end?

Whereas, Tom Delay has surfaced clearly to be a criminal. He’s also involved with a larger group of criminals whose intent is to steal as much money as they can. Further more, they’re quickly surfacing to be part of a culture of law makers doing the same thing. They doing this by using their positions to further expand their pockets and as you say, DeLay is elevated by his peers. Is this why they run for office?

As a result, there’s even a better question to ask. If it’s OK to steal but not OK to “rock the boat” then ADD UP all of those who supports stealing. Remember, bird’s of a feather, flock together and whoever elevated Tom Delay so far, has also been found to have similar trouble. I say “so far” because there is more coming……
Deep throat II


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