Sen. Durbin's Guantanamo Statement
Bump and Update: Sean Hannity will be dissing Senator Durbin tonight. Call Senator Durbin and tell him you're with him, and you want him to continue to hold this Administration's feet to the fire. (202) 224-2152. Web Contact Form.
Update: Markos at Daily Kos:
What is beyond belief is that the type of torture more at home under tyrants and dictators is being seen in camps flying the United States flag. If McClellan and Bush want to defend torture, that's their right. But it's not the America I believe in.
Original Post 6/15
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) is being attacked by right-wing talk radio and the White House for making this floor statement on Guantanamo yesterday (pdf). Kudos to Durbin for calling it like it is.
What Durbin said they find upsetting:
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.
What he read was from an FBI Agent's report:
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- 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.
Durbin isn't merely complaining. He's calling upon President Bush to apply the Geneva Conventions to detainees. And calling for Congress to step in if Bush refuses:
The President could declare the United States will apply the Geneva Conventions to the war on terrorism. He could declare, as he should, that the United States will not, under any circumstances, subject any detainee to torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The administration could give all detainees a meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention before a neutral decisionmaker. Such a change of course would dramatically improve our image and it would make us safer. I hope this administration will choose that course. If they do not, Congress must step in.
Senator Durbin responds to the attack on the White House (no link yet):
June 15, 2005
STATEMENT BY SENATOR DICK DURBIN
“No one, including the White House, can deny that the statement I read on the Senate floor was made by an FBI agent describing the torture of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. That torture was reprehensible and totally inconsistent with the values we hold dear in America. This Administration should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.”
“And I remind the White House the Guantanamo Bay scandal has reached such a level of national embarrassment that Senators from both parties are calling for the closure of that facility.”
Update: Atrios adds,
...this kind of treatment, as a matter of policy, is something which is to be expected of modern enlightened Democracies, and not fascist and Stalinist authoritarian regimes....Glad they're finally being honest about their true intentions for this country:
Update: America Blog says "Senator Durbin deserves the Nobel Prize for what he said." And,
Apparently, the Republicans who dominate the party today, on the radio, online, and in the halls of Congress, think that the only good American is a Stalinist, a Nazi, a fascist, or any other brand of totalitarian thug who beats the crap out of innocents because he can, because we're Amurrikans, God damn it, and if we want to throw you in jail for an eternity, with no lawyer and no charges, and torture you until your head explodes and you go absolutely insane, that's our right because, well, because F** YOU.
Markos at Daily Kos weighs in as well on the latest demonic smear attack?
To the pea brains on the Right, incapable of reading the English language in its most basic, unuanced form, they claim Durbin is calling our troops Nazis. The Wingnutosphere is making that claim. Rush is making that claim. Hannity is making that claim. Drudge is making that claim. Look to Fox News to jump on the bandwagon tomorrow.
Of course, what Durbin is saying is that such torture -- undisputed, by the way, and read from an FBI report -- is more at home in a place like Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany than in a modern Democracy.
[Comments now closed, new thread on Sen. Durbin's remarks is here. Please keep your comments relevant to Senator Durbin's remarks. Other comments belong on an open thread.]
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