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June 16, 2005
Durbin: US Operates Death Camps (Without The Death)

The hysteria and historical illiteracy, not to mention irrational moral equivalency, continued on the floor of the Senate yesterday as Dick Durbin equated American military personnel at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinist thugs, and the genocidal Pol Pot:

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat has compared the U.S. military's treatment of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay with the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, three of history's most heinous dictators, whose regimes killed millions.

In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an e-mail from an FBI agent.

The agent complained to higher-ups that one al Qaeda suspect was chained to the floor, kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to hear loud rap music. The Justice Department is investigating. ...

After reading the e-mail, Mr. 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. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Mr. Durbin also likened the treatment of terror suspects at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to authorize the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"It took us almost 40 years for us to acknowledge that we were wrong, to admit that these people should never have been imprisoned. It was a shameful period in American history," Mr. Durbin said. "I believe the torture techniques that have been used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and other places fall into that same category."

If Durbin intended on embarrassing the Bush administration into changing its detention policy, all he wound up accomplishing was embarrassing the voters in Illinois who sent him to the Senate for that ill-educated harangue. The total number of prisoners who have died at Gitmo through neglect or murder comes to zero. Prisoners at Gitmo get there through capture on the battlefield or through intelligence work and go through an identification process to determine their involvement in terrorism against the US and the West. The purpose of Gitmo is to determine what they know about the structure of our enemy -- not a gang of street hoodlums, but a well-armed, well-financed terrorist structure that receives support from nations as well as private financiers. Their intent before capture was to kill us in our homes and businesses, preferably by the thousands if not greater. The same people who sent them succeeded in doing so on 9/11.

They are not criminals, and they do not have a right to access the American court system. Their status under the Geneva Convention is that of an unlawful combatant -- which technically means that the US could have them shot after a military tribunal. Instead, we have chosen to keep them alive and house them humanely while interrogating them thoroughly in order to save American lives. If that means they get cold, or hot, or have little accidents on the floor, then so be it. That isn't torture or even abuse.

And Durbin, who should know better, has the nerve to compare American soldiers to Nazis and Gitmo to the extermination camps they ran. If Durbin can't recall that the Nazis exterminated millions of people, deliberately, in those camps, I'm certain that Holocaust survivors in Illinois and elsewhere can remind him of that fact. If the Senator doesn't know about the estimated 2 million people who died in the gulag system, a system that was used primarily on internal political dissidents to suppress opposition to Stalin, then he should read his Solzhenitsyn. If he thinks that American soldiers operate on the same basis as Cambodia and the killing fields, he's out of his mind.

Finally, the analogy to the Japanese internment camps simply boggles the mind. The Japanese survivors of Manzanar and other camps must be shaking their heads this morning. On what basis does Durbin think that Islamofascist terrorists equate to American citizens detained on the basis of their ethnicity? That statement is so far off the mark as to call Durbin's mental health into question. Gitmo is not a camp of Muslims rounded up out of their American homes and detained for no reason other than their religion; the Gitmo detainees have plotted to kill Americans. They are the enemy. Durbin obviously has lost the capacity to understand that basic concept, a dangerous failing in a time of war.

In any case, Durbin owes the administration and the American servicemen in Gitmo and elsewhere an apology. Durbin's idiotic equating of the conditions he described from the e-mail he supposedly received to the genocide of the Jews, Cambodians, and gulag victims cheapens the horrors of those atrocities, and he owes the survivors an apology as well. His hysterical rants have damaged the war effort by providing propaganda for the Islamists with no rational basis whatsoever -- and for that, he owes everyone an apology.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 16, 2005 7:21 AM

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