Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is coming under heavy fire after saying American treatment of terror detainees at the Guantanamo Naval Base is comparable to torture at the hands of Nazis, Soviet gulags and even Cambodian mass murderer Pol Pot.
Durbin’s remarks came last night on the Senate floor, as he diverted from comments on the Energy Bill to discuss allegations of prisoner abuse at the U.S. facility in Cuba. Quoting an FBI agent who was at Guantanamo, Durbin said:
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.
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 happened 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.
Durbin’s comments have ignited a firestorm of reaction on the Internet and talk radio.
“I think this is one of the grossest and sickest statements to be made yet,” writes blogger Art Green. “This is beyond hyperbole and rhetoric. I really do not have to explain how brutal and murderous the three organizations Durbin compared our soldiers to.”
“It really shows his motives and how much affection he has for our troops,” he continued. “Whenever I hear Durbin say that he ‘supports the troops,’ I know it will be a bald face lie. How could you support someone who you think are no better than genocidal maniacs?”
During his nationally broadcast radio show today, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said he was stunned by Durbin’s remarks, and said he was embarrassed Durbin was an American and a senator.
“The Nazis gassed people,” said Limbaugh. “The Nazis mass murdered people. The Nazis committed all kinds of atrocities. The Nazis would attach electrodes to genitals. The Nazis would use electrical shock. The Nazis were literally brutal. We have nothing in common with them. The Soviets and their gulags? The Soviets killed over 1.7 million people in their gulags alone. Many of their gulags were in Siberia, where it’s often below zero on a daily basis. That’s not Guantanamo Bay and what we did – and Pol Pot? The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? Pol Pot was a mass murderer of his own citizens. … We deserve to lose this war. If we’re going to be led by such idiocy and such ignorance as this, we deserve to lose it.”
A caller to Limbaugh’s show agreed with the host, saying, “I got through to Durbin’s office and I called him a traitor and I don’t know if I could say this on the air, but I called him a sick SOB, and I said that he should resign. This is absolutely outrageous.”
Andy McKenna, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, called for an apology by Durbin, but according to broadcast reports, the senator is refusing to apologize.
Elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin was chosen by his Democratic colleagues in December as Democratic whip, the second-highest position for the minority party.
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