Editor’s note: Each week, WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asks the tough questions almost no one else will ask. And each week, WorldNetDaily brings you the transcripts of those dialogues with the president and his spokesman.
At today’s White House news briefing, WND asked presidential press secretary Scott McClellan about ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Just before WND was recognized, McClellan responded to a question about recent statements by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who compared U.S. military personnel at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Soviet gulags, Nazi atrocities and Cambodia’s Pol Pot.
Durbin’s remarks came Tuesday 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 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.
Durbin’s comments have ignited a firestorm of reaction on the Internet and talk radio.
McCLELLAN: I think the senator’s remarks are reprehensible. It’s a real disservice to our men and women in uniform who adhere to high standards and uphold our values and our laws. To compare the way our military treats detainees with the Soviet gulags, the Nazi concentration camps and Pol Pot’s regime is simply reprehensible. And to suggest that these individuals – I notice comments were made that – comparing it to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
To suggest that these enemy combatants who are detained at Guantanamo Bay should be released just is simply beyond belief to me. These are dangerous individuals who were picked up on the battlefield. They were picked up on the battlefield in the fight against American forces. They were picked up on the battlefield because they are individuals who are involved in plots to do harm to the American people and to innocent civilians.
And so I just think those remarks are reprehensible and they are a real disservice to our men and women in uniform. Our men and women in uniform go out of their way to treat detainees humanely, and they go out of their way to hold the values and the laws that we hold so dear in this country. And when you talk about the gulags and the concentration camps in Pol Pot’s regime, millions of people, innocent people, were killed by those regimes.
WND asked McClellan:
Maryland’s Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest has announced that same-sex marriage between two homosexual men is, in his words, “perfectly normal.” So he’s joining three other Republicans and 81 Democrats in a bill to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And my question: Surely, the president believes this is too serious for you to evade my question as to what the president’s reaction is to this?
McCLELLAN: The president has made clear that he supports the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It’s up to our military leaders to determine the best way to implement that policy. He’s also made his views very well-known when it comes to the sanctity of marriage. The president believes we ought to protect and defend the sanctity of marriage; it’s a sacred institution.