June 19, 2005


The master plan for party suicide (Wesley Pruden, June 17, 2005, Washington Times)

[T]he Democrats, in their desperate search for an alchemist who can turn Iraq into Vietnam, stumble into one soft cowpie after another. Harry Reid called the president "a loser," and that didn't work. Howard Dean mocked Christians for both race and faith, and fell over backwards. Dick Durbin thought he had the formula, telling how an FBI agent told him interrogators at Guantanamo chained an al Qaeda terrorist to the floor, turned up the air-conditioning, turned on a hip-hop recording and dialed up the decibels. Making someone, even a terrorist, listen to hip-hop may well be beyond the ordinary limits of civilized behavior, but what can Mr. Durbin and his colleagues expect ordinary Americans to make of this: "If I read this [e-mail] 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."

His Democratic colleagues, despairing of buttoning the lip on the fattest mouth in the United States Senate, tried yesterday to avoid the senator and his firestorm, much like embarrassed parents whose four-year-old used the f-word in describing to dinner guests what daddy said to mommy. Harry Reid first hid between a bookcase and the Xerox machine and sent a female aide out to take the heat. She could tell reporters only that Mr. Durbin had "spotlighted" a problem and everyone ought to take "the FBI's concerns" seriously, although the FBI had said nothing at all about "the problem."

Hillary Clinton, having wrapped up the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and eager not to offend allies before actual campaigning starts, insisted that she hadn't read "the senator's speech." When a reporter read the offending passage to her she could only say, primly, that she had nothing to say.

If true, the senator's revelations that American war crimes at Guantanamo, consisting mostly of irreverent attitudes toward the Koran, had caught up with the atrocities of the Holocaust (9 million dead, including 6 million Jews), Stalin's gulags (2.7 million dead) and Pol Pot's Cambodian attempt at genocide (1.7 million dead) were surely the story of the new century, but the party's friendly press organs tried to look the other way. Neither The Washington Post nor the New York Times found room in yesterday's editions to report the controversy. But there was no press lollygagging in the Islamic world. Al Jazeera, the Arab-language network that regularly broadcasts dispatches from Osama bin Laden's cave, quickly put up the Durbin remarks in fulsome detail.

...if you're going to play Russian Roulette at least empty a few chambers and improve your odds.

Durbin slanders his own country (MARK STEYN, 6/19/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

Throughout the last campaign season, senior Democrats had a standard line in their speeches, usually delivered with righteous anger, about how "nobody has a right to question my patriotism!" Given that nobody was questioning their patriotism, it seemed an odd thing to harp on about. But, aware of their touchiness on the subject, I hasten to add that in what follows I am not questioning Dick Durbin's patriotism, at least not for the first couple of paragraphs. Instead, I'll begin by questioning his sanity.

Last Tuesday, Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, quoted a report of U.S. "atrocities" at Guantanamo and then added:

"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."

Er, well, your average low-wattage senator might. But I wouldn't. The "atrocities" he enumerated -- "Not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room" -- are not characteristic of the Nazis, the Soviets or Pol Pot, and, at the end, the body count in Gitmo was a lot lower. That's to say, it was zero, which would have been counted a poor day's work in Auschwitz or Siberia or the killing fields of Cambodia.

But give Durbin credit. Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis schtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, senator! If you had a dime for every crackpot Web site that takes up your thoughtful historical comparison, you'd be able to retire to the Caribbean and spend the rest of your days torturing yourself with hot weather and loud music, as well as inappropriately provocative women and insufficient choice of hors d'oeuvres and all the other shameful atrocities committed at Guantanamo.

Just for the record, some 15 million to 30 million Soviets died in the gulag; some 6 million Jews died in the Nazi camps; some 2 million Cambodians -- one third of the population -- died in the killing fields. Nobody's died in Gitmo, not even from having Christina Aguilera played to them excessively loudly. The comparison is deranged, and deeply insulting not just to the U.S. military but to the millions of relatives of those dead Russians, Jews and Cambodians, who, unlike Durbin, know what real atrocities are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 6:50 AM

All of the dead voters in Cook County who elected Mr. Durbin may now be having second thoughts about their choice.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at June 19, 2005 11:09 AM

What happened to this country's deep sense of dignity and high moral values? Did we need to torture POWs during WWII? During Viet Nam? I recall that we were proud of our committment to the Geneva Convention.

Today, the right wing echo chamber ridicules anyone who attempts to point out the horrible & immoral flip flop that has happened since the conservative right consolidated power in all three branches of government.

Posted by: Jim at June 19, 2005 1:03 PM

Jim: Any German or Japanese who was caught out of uniform attacking US soldiers would have been summarily executed. Same in every war ever.

Posted by: b at June 19, 2005 1:23 PM


Units bragged about taking the least prisoners in Japan...guess how they arranged that?

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2005 1:37 PM

If you listen to the Leftists, you will find that what really disturbs them is not any supposed mistreatment of prisoners, but the bad PR associated with it. (Like how Europeans will no longer respect us.) Now the people creating this bad PR are Leftists, like Durbin, so in effect they are disturbed by their own behavior. Talk about your "echo chamber."

If these prisoners were released tomorrow, within hours Leftists would find something else to disturb themselves (like "fake but accurate" phoney memos from London.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 19, 2005 2:11 PM

"you would most certainly believe ..."
Dear Senator Durbin:
While I may be stupid, I am not even close to your vacuous inanity, so don't presume to tell me what I am certain to believe. The last thing any statement containing the words "air-conditioning" reminds me of is Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, or Pol Pot's Cambodia. I do however most certainly believe that you are a pompous, anti-american idiot and a disgrace to the U.S. Senate.

Posted by: jd watson at June 19, 2005 7:29 PM

If a captured terrorist went into a permanent vegetative state due to wounds incurred during his capture, and the U.S. government wanted to pull his feeding tube while his family in Afghanistan wanted him to live, what stance would American liberals take on the matter?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 19, 2005 8:54 PM

What country or organization was the last military opponent of the United States to actually observe the Geneva Convention? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it was Nazi Germany. Imperial Japan, North Korea, Communist China, North Vietnam, al-Qaida, the Saddam government; none of them treated US POWs in acord with the Convention. Seems to me that all the "concern" for "high moral values" is being directed at the wrong party.

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 19, 2005 9:56 PM

Mike Morley:

What I find hysterical is to hear the Left say that if we don't treat our detainees well (which I think we do anyway), then our opponents will have an excuse not to reciprocate. Meanwhile, the prisoners captured by the Islamofascist enemy all assume room temperature in distressing haste.

Come to think of it, I think OJ has made that point before on this site. It's worth repeating.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 20, 2005 1:16 AM

What I like is the way Liberals go on about how "We're just like the Soviet Union!" What, you mean the Soviet Union that Liberals spent 70 years apologizing for? That Soviet Union?

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 20, 2005 9:38 AM