Posted on June 18, 2005


Durbin And Durbiner

The senator's rant is nothing new


Daniel Clark


If people are shocked by the recent Senate floor speech by Dick Durbin (D, Ill.), in which he compared the American military to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, it's only because louder Democrat blowhards have been drowning him out until now. To anyone who has been listening to Sen. Durbin since the start of the war, this tirade of his is only a slightly exaggerated version of the things he's been saying all along.

Rap ist verboten!

Durbin read a statement purportedly made by an FBI agent, describing the treatment of one of the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay. This prisoner was, in the senator's opinion, "tortured" by having the air conditioner alternatively turned up all the way and then turned off altogether. He was also chained in his cell and -- humiliation of humiliations -- forced to listen to rap music. Durbin followed that description with the unintentionally comical claim that, "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 the Nazis, the Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime, Pol Pot or others, that had no concern for human beings."

Stalin says, 'turn up those air conditioners!'

This is the classic "Bush-is-Hitler" left-wing moral equivalence. The Nazis and Soviets chained prisoners, and so do Americans. Okay, so neither Hitler nor Stalin ordered the playing of rap music (rumor has it they were more into reggae), but any other differences between their way and ours must be subtle enough to elude detection by Democrats, who haven't exactly come rushing forward to disavow Durbin's remarks.

When his Republican colleagues called on him to apologize, Sen. Durbin instead demanded an apology from President Bush, "for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure." In the context of his previous statement, it may seem trivial to even point out his inaccurate portrayal of the Geneva Conventions, or ask how our enemies' disapproval of their own detention can harm our soldiers. However, it is just as important to remember this anti-apology of Durbin's as his original remarks, because the two combine to illustrate his tactic of being the pro-defense Democrat, who only criticizes our conduct of the war out of his concern for the safety of the troops.

The contradiction couldn't be more blatant. First, he likens American soldiers to Nazi stooges who were "just following orders" when they carried out the Holocaust, and then he claims to have done it on their behalf.

Durbin used a similar ploy on the Senate floor on April 28, 2004, in order to defend his party's presidential nominee, John Kerry. After stating that Kerry had been the target of sniper fire in Vietnam, Durbin charged, "The new Vietnam snipers come from the Bush-Cheney campaign: Karen Hughes, sadly the vice president, and other campaign operatives who are now attacking John Kerry because he served our country."


So Cheney, Hughes and others are like Communist guerillas, since they attacked Kerry because he served our country. But wait a minute. Cheney had only criticized Kerry's voting record on defense spending, and his position that terrorism should be treated primarily as a domestic police matter. Does Durbin find something treasonous about that?

Hughes' offense was to discuss Kerry's postwar political activities. In particular, she suggested that reporters should investigate Kerry's fraudulent 1971 congressional testimony, in which he claimed that his fellow soldiers had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of [Genghis] Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam ..." Because these fictitious incidents allegedly took place in Vietnam, Democrats like Sen. Durbin accused Hughes of criticizing Kerry's military service. To the contrary, if there is any prominent political figure who has attacked American soldiers for serving our country, it is John Kerry. Yet Durbin defended Kerry's shameful statement the same way he now defends his own hysterical reaction to Gitmo, by pretending to do it for the sake of the U.S. military.

The only "campaign operatives" who had questioned Kerry's Vietnam record were the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who challenged the legitimacy of Kerry's purple hearts and forced him to retract his "Christmas in Cambodia" story. Was Durbin calling these war heroes, who have remained loyal to their country to this day, a bunch of enemy snipers? If he was, that would only be consistent.

loser of the First Battle of Iraq

Aside from likening America's protectors to its enemies, Durbin has repeatedly latched onto any excuse to criticize the Bush administration's prosecution of the war. After the president's 2003 State of the Union Address, the senator was front-and-center in pursuing the great "16 words" controversy, which focused on Bush's statement that, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

A scandalized Sen. Durbin then warned, "The credibility of the president is on the line, and I believe that he should move forward as quickly as possible to call for a full investigation." In fact, the British government continues to stand by its contention that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Investigation over. But that doesn't deter Durbin.

Durbin again stepped to the forefront last December, to criticize Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's answer to a soldier's question (which was actually planted by a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press) about a lack of armor on Humvees and other vehicles. "Those responsible for planning this war were not prepared for the reality on the ground," Durbin said, "and many of our soldiers have paid the price." He demanded that "we should armor every Humvee and every truck our troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan," and faulted Rumsfeld for not having done so by calling the controversy "a matter of leadership" at the Pentagon.

Critics of the war effort would have us think it's normal to armor all military vehicles, when in reality, mobility is sometimes a more important consideration. More armor has been needed against our terrorist enemies in the second battle of Iraq than in the more conventional fighting against Saddam's regime in the first. According to a December 9th CNN report, only about 1 percent of the Humvees being used in Iraq and Afghanistan were armored at the start of the war. By the time the Rumsfeld controversy arose, the Pentagon had already retrofitted enough to increase that number to 75 percent. The problem had already been acknowledged, and was being addressed. Nevertheless, Durbin took the opportunity to depress morale and make the U.S. military appear weak. As usual, he positioned himself as doing it for the soldiers.

Undoubtedly, part of the reason for Durbin's involvement in that matter was to buttress his demand -- published in a USA Today editorial seven months earlier -- that Rumsfeld resign. Among the reasons he stated in that piece was an inadequate number of armored Humvees (good to see it only takes about half a year for those DNC talking points to reach Chattanooga). However, the primary reason for his demand was the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, which he blamed on the secretary for "setting the tone for the mistreatment of prisoners by downplaying the Geneva Conventions."

Showing no sense of irony, Durbin wrote, "Now the situation our troops face in Iraq is more dangerous and the prospect of winning the war on terrorism is more uncertain because of this scandal." The thought that unduly publicizing the scandal could only multiply the danger apparently escaped him. Furthermore, he is now doing his part to fabricate a similar scandal, while publicly slandering the U.S. military in the process. Following his own argument, one would have to conclude that the situation our troops face in Iraq is more dangerous, and the prospect of winning the war on terrorism is more uncertain, because of Dick Durbin.



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