Senator Durbin 'gulag' furore
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:Republicans and the Bush Administration, interpreting his statement as an equivocation between GTMO and Nazis, etc., will strongly condemn his speech.On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. 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.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
Mr DURBIN. Mr. President. I ask unanimous consent for 3 additional minutes
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr DURBIN. It is not too late. I hope we will learn from history. I hope we will change course. The President could declare the United States will not, under any circumstances, subject any detainee to torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment ...
To compare treatment by guards at Guantanamo Bay to "concentration camps and Pol Pot's regime is simply reprehensible," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "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 uphold the values and the laws we hold so dear to our country.On 17 June 2005, Durbin will release a statement addressing the charge that he had disrespected US soldiers
"When you talk about the gulags and the concentration camps and Pol Pot's regime, millions of people, innocent people were killed by those regimes," he said.
I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.On 21 June Dick Durbin will make a further statement of regret addressing his mention of past repressive regimes
Mr. President, I have come to understand that was a very poor choice of words. I tried to make this very clear last Friday that I understood to those analogies to the Nazis, Soviets and others were poorly chosen. I issued a release which I thought made my intentions and my inner-most feeling as clear as I possibly could.