Yesterday on the floor of the US Senate My very own Senator, Mitch McConnell, from the Great Commonwealth of Kentucky came to the defense of our Men and Women in Uniform by questioning Dick Durbin about his intent. Durbin’s response is telling:
Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. DURBIN . I will be happy to yield to the Senator from Kentucky.
Mr. McCONNELL. My concern was not the words of the FBI agent, but the words of the Senator from Illinois. I believe I heard the Senator repeat today–let me ask the Senator if in fact this is what he meant to say–because it was the quote I had from the Senator, not from the FBI agent, earlier yesterday or the day before, which I believe the Senator repeated today. I
was curious if the Senator does stand by his own words, not the words of the FBI agent, which I believe were:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was a FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would almost certainly believe that this must have been done by the 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.
So my question of the Senator is not the words of the FBI agent but the words of the Senator from Illinois. Does the Senator from Illinois stand by these words, comparing the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners to the Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or Pol Pot or others?
Mr. DURBIN . I would say, in response to the Senator from Kentucky, in this particular incident that I read, from an FBI agent describing in detail the methods that were used on prisoners, was I trying to say: Isn’t this the kind of thing that we see from repressive regimes?
Yes, this is the type of thing we expect from a repressive regime. We do not expect it from the United States. I hope the Senator from Kentucky would not expect that.
Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. DURBIN . Yes.
Mr. McCONNELL. Is the Senator aware that Pol Pot murdered 1 to 2 million of his fellow countrymen, the Nazis murdered from 6 to 9 million men, women, and children, mainly Jews, and the Soviets, in their gulags, murdered some estimated 20 million people over a 20-year period between 1930 and 1950?
My observation, obviously, is this a fair comparison?
Mr. DURBIN . The comparison related to interrogation techniques. It is clear, and I will state it for the record, that the horrors visited on humanity by those regimes were far greater than these interrogation techniques. But the point I was trying to make was, what do we visualize when we hear of this kind of interrogation technique?
I say to the Senator from Kentucky, I visualize regimes like those described. Did they do more? Did they do worse? Of course they did. The point I was trying to make is, this is not what America should expect. This is not what we should believe reflects our values.
Mr. McCONNELL. So the Senator thinks this is a fair comparison?
Mr. DURBIN . It is a comparison in the form of interrogation that a repressive regime goes too far, that a democracy never reaches that extreme. But to say that I am in any way diminishing the other horrors brought on by these regimes is plain wrong. Those are different elements completely.
Durbin REFUSED to admit it was an unfair comparison, REFUSED to apologize for insinuation that American Men and Women in uniform are acting like Stalin’s Gulag soldiers, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields Soldiers, and Hitler’s “Final Solution” Soldiers. By his refusals does he honestly believe this?
Senator Warner get’s to the nut of the matter here:
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, if the Senator will yield.
Mr. DURBIN . I will be happy to yield for a question.
Mr. WARNER. You are reading from a report of one of our investigative agencies. There is no verification of the accuracy of that report. You take it at face value. I pointed out–and I discussed it with Secretary Rumsfeld–this allegation of the FBI agent, together with a lot of other facts, is now being carefully scrutinized under our established judicial process.
I trained as a lawyer and many years as a prosecutor and dealt with the Bureau. I have the highest respect for them. But I do not accept at face value everything they put down on paper until I make certain it can be corroborated and substantiated.
For you to have 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 the greatest error in judgment, and it leaves open to the press of the world to take those three extraordinary chapters in world history and try and intertwine it with what has taken place allegedly at Guantanamo .
I am perfectly willing to be a part of as much of an investigation as the Senate should perform and will in my committee. But I am not going to come to the floor with just one report in hand and begin to impugn the actions of those in charge, namely, the uniformed personnel, at this time. We should allow matters of this type to be very carefully examined before we jump to a conclusion.
Durbin went on to explain the FBI Memo was gained through a FOIA request to which Senator Warner responded:
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, my understanding is it is currently under investigation and being carefully scrutinized in the context of another series of documents. Until the administration has had the opportunity to complete the investigation and make their own assessment of the allegations, it seems to me premature to render judgment.
and later again:
Mr. WARNER. I would say, Madam President, I served as assistant U.S. attorney for 5 years and dealt with the FBI all the time. I have very high regard for that service. But the Senator knows full well that is just an investigative report by one agent. It is under investigation by the Bureau and by the Department of Defense at this time in the context of many other pieces of evidence.
One cannot come to this great forum, which is viewed the world over as one which is known for trying to assert the rights of this country as taking its place in the world, as following due process and principles of our Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights–and comment to the Senate about some young uniformed person who probably is the subject of that FBI report–until such time as that person in uniform is adjudicated in a proper forum as to having done what is alleged in that report, or not done, it seems to me we shouldn’t be discussing it in the Senate.
Set him straight Senator Warner!
Thank you Senators McConnell and Warner for shining the light of Truth on Mr. Durbin. I just wish that Mr. Durbin would once again find the “greatest respect” for our Military that he once enjoyed:
Mr. Durbin on the Senate floor, speaking on the Abu Ghraib scandal on May 05, 2004:
Mr. DURBIN. I agree completely with the Senator from Nevada. I have a feeling of embarrassment and also sadness, sadness for the thousands of men and women in uniform risking their lives today, serving us so nobly in Iraq, who are going to be swept into this vortex. We have to make certain the soldiers who are responsible for this as well as their leaders in command are brought out and held accountable so that our fine men and women who are fighting in the military in Iraq do not have to bear this burden. They are our best and brightest. We owe them the greatest respect. But let us be honest; what happened here is not typical of America, certainly not typical of our military. Unless we are forthright and open in accountability, it is going to sweep all of them into this veil of blame. That would be unfortunate.
Uh…Mr Durbin, are you not NOW sweeping all of them in the veil of blame based on one report from a single FBI agent that is part of an ongoing investigation? Care to practice what you preach Sir? Or just resign and save us all the blood pressure gymnastics.