Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures.Just for shits and grins, let's revisit what Senator Durbin actually said. He read this FBI report on abuses at Gitmo:
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks.
"They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said.
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.Then he 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.In spite of the yowling to the contrary, Durbin never suggested that what was happening at Gitmo was of the same degree as what happened at the hands of the Nazis, Soviets, or Pol Pot. What he said was that, lacking context, any right-minded person would have assumed that description of prisoner treatment was from an accounting of what happened in one of those regimes. And he was fucking right.
Making the point that what we're doing is leading us down the same path to the much worse offenses committed by the examples he offered is worth making, if we're at all interested in not becoming as bad as Nazis, Soviets, or Pol Pot.
And the saddest part about all this is that people who can't discern the difference are taking us one step closer to that madness.