Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Honorable Senator Durbin - No Need to Explain Senator - You Did the Right Thing

I posted the following comment on Jim Leach's excellent Blog in relation to Senator Durbin's recent speech pertaining to the ongoing Gitmo prisoner abuse scandal.

See my comments here.

Senator Durbin's original statements need no qualifications. The "outrage" of the Bush administration's apologist for torture is truly distressing.

For the most part those who have protested Senator Durbin's recent remarks haven't addressed the reality of prisoner maltreatment. Instead they have focused on an analogy employed by Senator Durbin.

Reality isn't always comforting, but it is necessary to confront it, whether it cast a warm light or not.

Shouting down a leader with false rhetoric won't help this nation come to terms with the most important issues it faces.

One of the most persistent complaints from the general public leveled at Washington is that politicians play it safe at the expense of the national debate which must take place before any issues can be addressed.

Senator Durbin's remarks have been dissected, and taken out of context in a way intended to stifle that debate, and to intimidate any who might follow him.

Their reaction isn't borne out of misunderstanding. It is a deliberate act of group-think intimidation.

Hecklers one and all.

The reactions of these apologist of prisoner abuse constitutes a denial non-denial.

Create a big stink, and maybe everyone will forget what the original issue is all about. In the mainstream media this method works well - but in the blogosphere it's doesn't seem to work as well. The Internet possesses a memory, and we're all a Google search away.

Their mindset seems to be that "we" can do no wrong, and if "we" ever do wrong, that no one should ever say anything about it. The mindset seems poised to punish those who break the silence, in that if anyone does point out the mistakes that "we" have made, or are currently making, that "we" will go after "them" next.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Ironically this mindset seems to find an analogue in that of the petty bureaucrat, as well as the street thug - both protecting their turf. Odd that this mindset would be adopted by those who claim to be the enemies of mindless bureaucracy, and the moral decay leading to criminality.

The U.S. military is a fine, and professional organization, which for decades preceeding the current conflict strived to train its ranks on the proper treatment of prisoners of war - according to the rules of the Geneva Convention.

When prisoners of this war were classified as "detainees", and the Bush administration contested the strict applicability of the Geneva Convention in the treatment of the "detainees" a clear case of anomie resulted.

In an attempt to justify the ongoing actions of prisoner maltreatment the Bush adminstration simply redefined the definition of maltreatment.

See DOJ Torture Advice Memo.

In this setting, one in which the executive branch is officially sanctioning prisoner abuse, the culture of abuse quickly seeped its way downward reaching the ranks of the common soldier.

The vast majority of U.S. soldiers are ethical men, and women. They have conducted themselves properly oftentimes under extreme, and dangerous conditions. This nation owes them a debt we can never fully repay.

Senator Durbin was in no way casting doubt about the integrity of these brave men, and women.

However, allegations of prisoner abuse have been made, and criminal proceedings have been conducted. Already some soldiers have been convicted. The fact that prisoner abuse has taken place is not under contest here.

It is a disservice to the men and women in uniform that any question at all as to the proper treatment of prisoners of war should ever have arisen.

The rules of proper conduct towards prisoner's of war should have been followed as the military has historically instructed. No mixed messages should ever have come from the Administration polluting the chain of command with ambiguous messages of what was proper conduct.

The effect of the redefinition of prisonor abuse (an endorsement of torture) has been debilitating to our armed forces, to the morale at home, and to our objective of changing hearts and minds in the war against terror.

JAG officers should not have had to resign their commissions in protest that torture would be adopted as a tool of interrogation.

Guards should not have been encouraged to sexually abuse prisoners at the instruction of military intelligence.

Dogs should not have been used to attack prisoners.

Prisoners should not have been allowed to languish in their own excrement.

The Koran should not have been mistreated by prison guards.

The list of abuses is just too long to list here.

The Commander in Chief is ultimately where the buck stops, even if the moral courage to accept blame is utterly lacking under this current regime.

Senator Durbin is taking heat for being brave enough to tell it like it is. Mr. Durbin is not blaming the service personnel, instead he is shedding light on a bad policy promoted by those in the Bush Administration, a policy which unwisely corrupts our approach in handling prisoners of war.

Senator Durbin is doing his duty to condemn a policy which only breeds hatred for America around the world, and endangers the lives of Americans - both civilians, and those who protect this nation.

Keys: The Village of Jerome, Springfield, Central, Illinois, Local, State, Political, Politics, Commentary, Blog, Satire, Senator Richard Durbin, Torture, NAZI, Political Correctness, Controversy, Iraq War, Prisoner Maltreatment


Dave said...

Excellent, my friend. I'm going to post this in full over at my place so my right wing sister blog will take a look. They were all over my intial take on Durbin's comments (not on my blog, to their credit, but by having posted my comments on theirs). Anyway good job.

Marie said...

Yes, excellent job.

Mad Conservative Crimefighter said...

Dope Durbin did NOT do the right thing. That anonymous FBI agent did not insert the words Nazi Germany, gulag, or Khmer Rouge in there, Durbin inserted those words in there. He WANTS PEOPLE TO THINK we are as bad as they are. He wants to whine that we "right-wing fanatics" are twisting his words and stuff, but hey he was stupid enough to make an unfair comparison and he is getting BURNED. If he wants to stick to this ridicious notion then he will have his rear booted out of office in 2006.

And unfortunately none of you anti-Bush guys have even dared to go through the list of things they did to prisoners in Nazi death camps, the gulags or the killing fields and matched them up to anything to Gitmo YET.

JeromeProphet said...

Are you suggesting that prisonet maltreatment has not taken place at Gitmo?

Are you suggesting that NAZIs didn't maltreat their prisoners?

Or are you suggesting that one can't draw comparisons?

Is it a matter of numbers, severity, or that you're simply unwilling to see the U.S. as wearing anything other than a white cowboy hat while saving the day for truth, justice, and the American way?

As far as your anonymous FBI agent mantra, why don't you get your pal Bob Novak to out him?

According to CNN:

"The memo was written in July 2004 by Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Thomas Harrington, and was directed to Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command."

So I guess that means we'll have to pretend Thomas Harrington doesn't exist, or that someone he supervises is a figment of his imagination.

Or that the FBI Agents they send down there are crazed, or liars or both - and that they need straightenig out. Maybe Dick Cheney can pay them a visit?

Gettin a little too far fetched isn't it? Better go back to consuming your mindless radio conserative talk show banquet - your outgunned here partner.

Mad Conservative Crimefighter said...

Okay, you know what Jerome...I think you need to talk to ACTUAL former prisoners in the Holocaust camps, survivors of the Siberian prisons, or refugees from Cambodia and ask them if anything in Gitmo compares to what happened to them. Then maybe you'll get it. But sadly this is all political with Durbin. The truth is he doesn't give a rat's butt about them cause he didn't give a rat's butt about them a few years ago or thirteen years ago.

To answer your dumb questions...

Maltreatment - no where CLOSE to what the Nazis -- you know I'm tired of saying that word -- Soviets or Khmers did. So what if the AC was up high? Was it below freezing or something like 60'? And just how hot was it in there? 90'? Ain't as hot as how it is in Iraq.

As for comparisons, drawing false and unfair comparisons as a means to win yourselves political points to damage the country is inexcusable. You don't compare a sand castle to an Egyptian pyramid. Unless there's a diberate pattern of killing off prisoners (yeah there's ISOLATED cases accidental deaths, some of them commit suicide, but each death should be reviewed on a purely case by case basis) you have NO BUSINESS comparing Gitmo to the the 6-9 million Jews slain by the Axis powers, one to two million by Pol Pot, and up to twenty million during the 30s and 40s by Stalin.

So we FINALLY get a name to this memo, why was THAT so hard? Though it's not by an FBI official. By the way, it's 90' out in Gitmo, but it's 110' in Baghdad.

John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had inquired as to whether the FBI's descriptions are true.

"I was trained as a lawyer, many years as a prosecutor dealt with the bureau, have the highest respect. But I do not accept at face value everything they put down on paper until I make certain it can be corroborated and substantiated.

"And for you to come to the floor with just that fragment of a report and then unleash the words 'the Nazis,' unleash the word 'gulag,' unleash 'Pol Pot,' I don't know how many remember that chapter, it seems to me that was a grievous error in judgment and leaves open to the press of the world to take those three extraordinary chapters in world history and try to intertwine it with what has taken place, allegedly, at Guantanamo," Warner said.

The military operates under strict guidelines that are widely distributed. Only mild non-injurious physical contact is allowed, such as light pushing. Sleep deprivation is used along with stress positions, but they are limited in time.

One knowledgeable official familiar with the memo cited by Durbin as well as other memos said the FBI agent made no such allegation and that the memo described only someone chained to the floor. Anything beyond that is simply an interpretation, the official said.

Anonymous said...

Just to help you along back to reality, here is a link to a FIRST HAND ACCOUNT from a chaplain at Gitmo who's FROM Illinois:

JeromeProphet said...

Mad Conservative Crime Fighter.

Our family's former priest (he has gone to his greater reward a few years ago) was a victim of the NAZI regime. He was a Polish Jesuit who was lined up along a wall, and nearly executed by the SS.

Thank God a regular German Army officer happened to drive by at just the right moment and stopped the execution.

This remarkable man of God ended up in a NAZI concentration camp for many years - provided with one slice of bread a day, and was close to being executed several times for standing up to the guards mistreatment. He came close to starvation.

I dare not speak for him, in his absence, but I know there is no way he would endorse the type of "interrogation" methods employed down at Gitmo - it just isn't Christian - and it does a tremendous harm to America's image around the world.

What the opportunistic right, and sadly even the ADL seems to be forgetting is that each "isolated" incident (a term which you use) contributes to an overall whole.

If you end up being slapped around by a guard in the morning, and have electrical lines used to shock your genitals that afternoon, it becomes all the easier to rationalize that you hung yourself - when no one was looking that night.

I for one believe it is extremely dangerous to place our soldiers in the role of abusers.

These fine men, and women at Gitmo will one day return to their wives, children, and communities.

Let's hope that somehow they can make the transition in a proper order.

It is NOT a question of scale, it is NOT a question of severity!

It is a question of principle, and morality.

America stands for much more than this. We are a much bigger nation than this.

I haven't joined in yet, with the calls that Gitmo be closed, but if it can't be cleaned up it needs to be.

And the first step in cleaning it up, is ending the denial about the problem.

I suspect your goals, and my own, are similar in the sense that we both want a better world, and a nation safe from terrorist extremist.

Gitmo is just one tool which has been used, at a time when we had to come up with answers and fast. As the years go by in this "war on terror" we need to be flexible enough to set away what doesn't work - or what may have worked in the past, but could be counterproductive in the future.

Or perhaps there's a way to improve the operations at Gitmo?

Surely, you'd agree that if this issue won't just go away, that it will be a problem for the current, and possibly future administration. One that needs to be dealt with soon.

We don't want to allow prisoner abuse, and we don't want to sully the reputation of our armed forces - and our nation.

We're in a war of ideas, one in which we need to win hearts, and minds around the world to our cause. The intelligence value of some moronic (and dangerous) fools who joined into a terrorist group (now captured) five or more years ago can't be as important as standing firm for our greater ideals.

Mad Conservative Crimefighter said...

Well that was a surpise to hear that, unfortunately you haven't demonstrated that you really know anything going on in the Axis prison camps. You made a claim that prisoners were being gay raped, which kinda flies in the face of an anti-gay policy in the military, but haven't told us where you got that information.

email jp






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