Comments: Steyn Slams Durbin

There are some pretty shocking reports coming out regarding torture and the like (from a country that is supposed to be above that kind of behaviour/thinking). There have also been some very inappropriate photos taken by US soldiers treating prisoners like an attraction at some kind of sick theme park.

No, that doesn't make them Nazis.

However...

A person who calls to others' attentions the actions of their own government or military, when those actions are contrary to the stated ideals or standards of that nation is NOT a traitor. In some respects they are actually a patriot.

Posted by chosha at June 26, 2005 07:06 PM

I agree Chosa, that calling attention to not meeting the ideals of a society isn't being a traitor, BUT there is a CORRECT way to do it, and Durbin sure didn't do it that way.

He went far beyond calling attention to something that we shouldn't be doing. THAT is where the "traitor" part comes in.

Posted by delftsman3 at June 26, 2005 10:27 PM

Actually I disagree, and I get the impression that you are so busy being outraged at him that you have not considered what he said objectively. (And at least read to the end of the comment before you reply.)

From the Washington Post:
"During a speech Tuesday, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat quoted from an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.

"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," Durbin said."

In other words, the man is saying 'If I just read this out, you would assume I couldn't be talking about Americans. You think that Americans don't do this; that it is in fact what we fight against. You would surely assume I was reading from a report about nations we normally associate with having no concern for human life, like the Nazi, Pol Pot, etc.'

Isn't that true? Or would you have heard the report and thought, 'yeah that could as easily be US soldiers as any others...'??

Your post accused him of 'slandering his own country'. If the FBI report from which he was quoting is accurate, in what way did he slander his own country. If the FBI report is accurate, then he is perfectly justified in saying:

"This administration should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure."

Because if that report is correct, that is exactly what they have done.

Posted by chosha at June 26, 2005 11:02 PM

By the way, an FBI report is hardly "the nuttiest slurs of the lunatic fringe". You said there is a "right way" to go about holding the government and its military to account for their actions - what would you have considered "the right way" to handle this situation? He read a disgusting report. Should he have denied the report? Hidden the report? Is it fair to say that he has "provided our enemies in a time of war with the juciest propaganda coup"? Hasn't the military at Guantanamo Bay actually done that?

Posted by chosha at June 26, 2005 11:10 PM

It's the comparision that's out of line. He had every right to read the report, and every right to call everybody's attention to the report. If anything it's his duty as an opposition senator. It's the Nazi cracks that were out of line, and it's those that he needs to pay for.

Posted by phnxfire54 at June 27, 2005 01:06 AM

"Because if that report is correct"

Remember that key word IF.

Just because it was an FBI report,doesn't make it true. There is no context to judge it's veracity. AND the context in which the supposed "atrocities" had been done.

Go to any prison in the US and I believe that you will find things that would be labeled "atrocities", and far worse than anything reported having been done at Gitmo.

And you have to remember just WHO we are dealing with at Gitmo, these aren't misunderstood Sunday school dropouts.

These people live in better conditions than most of our soldiers in the field, and FAR better than a great many of their compatriots in their places of origin.

We are SO brutal that they get released in better physical condition than they've probably been in their lives.... and the fact that over 200 HAVE been released proves the lie that "there is NO system of evaluation". 12 of those released were recaptured on the battlefield, seems the system might have been a little lax...

Posted by delftsman3 at June 27, 2005 01:17 AM

"It's the Nazi cracks that were out of line, and it's those that he needs to pay for."
Actually, in context, those comparisons make sense. The report indicated that these prisoners were being treated in ways in which it is unacceptable to treat a human being.

But let's assume for a moment that the comparison IS totally out of line...aren't you still focussing on the lesser evil. Is a careless REMARK really more serious in your mind than the crimes he is describing.

And on that note, delftsman, there is no context to consider. Those actions are not acceptable in any context - at least not if you truly believe what the US claims to stand for. The fact that similar or worse may happen in a US prison is cause for shame, not justification. And your soldiers in the field are not chained to a floor without food and water. Trying to argue that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are living a better life for being there is ludicrous, and it only highlights your subjectivity.

You are right to say that it is important whether or not the report is accurate. However, apart from your deep desire for it to be untrue, have you any evidence to suggest that the report is false? Can you think offhand of any reason the FBI would seek to falsify a report to make it look like the US is ignoring the Geneva Convention? I'm open to evidence, and I'd be very happy to find that prisoners are not being tortured, but it's not the first report of this kind of unacceptable behaviour, and I haven't seen any reason to assume this one is false.

Posted by chosha at June 27, 2005 10:38 AM

Chosha,might I suggest that you go to Terrorist Media, register, and see what REAL torture and Nazi's look like?

Posted by delftsman3 at June 27, 2005 12:13 PM

"I'm open to evidence, and I'd be very happy to find that prisoners are not being tortured.."

OK Chosa, Would you believe a Marine Lieutenant that was at Gitmo for over a year?

Let's see...an unnamed FBI agent vs a Marine Lt. that speaks on the record...WHO do I believe?...it's not like the FBI would ever "play politics" that would reflect badly on a President..at least not since "Deep Throat"...

"Trying to argue that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are living a better life for being there is ludicrous..."

Lets see...average weight gain among detainees is between 20 and 30 lbs...there are more medical staff than detainees...they have three square meals a day, exercize on a daily basis..access to their scripture, with prayer call five times a day...clean beds to sleep in..Yep, its a real Gulag, allright!

May I quote the Lt.?: "For starters, the food is good. ("To be honest with you," says Hegseth, "I think their food is better than what my guys got.") Detainees get top-notch medical care, along with dental care -- which some have never had before. Many detainees correspond with family members, and have access to soccer fields and other recreational facilities."

"My men and I once spent nine hours on a runway trying to get a detainee on a plane to take him home. He refused to get out of the van. He was being well-treated, and he knew what torture and maltreatment were like back home."

Hegseth puts it like this: "Critics ask, 'How are we to win if we are conducting ourselves this way?' I think the opposite: If we're conducting ourselves this way, it's evidence that our cause is just."

"Actually, in context, those comparisons make sense"

Amnesty International recently compared the U.S. Guantanamo prison to the Soviet Gulags under Stalin. Here are the facts that they used to draw their conclusion:

Individuals Detained:
Gulag -- 20 million.
Guantanamo -- 750 total.

Number of Camps:
Gulag -- 476 separate camp complexes comprising thousands of individual camps.
Guantanamo -- five small camps on the U.S. military base in Cuba.

Reasons for Imprisonment:
Gulag -- hiding grain; owning too many cows; need for slave labor; being Jewish; being Finnish; being religious; being middle class; having had contact with foreigners; refusing to sleep with the head of Soviet counterintelligence; telling a joke about Stalin.
Guantanamo -- fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan; being suspected of links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Red Cross Visits:
Gulag -- none on record.
Guantanamo -- regular visits since January 2002.

Deaths as a Result of Poor Treatment:
Gulag -- multiple millions.
Guantanamo -- no reports of prisoner deaths.

Daily Diet:
Gulag -- meager portions of swill.
Guantanamo -- two hot religiously correct meals per day with constant supply of snacks.

Work Requirements:
Gulag -- forced labor.
Guantanamo -- none.

Medical Treatment:
Gulag -- none.
Guantanamo -- better than the 20 million report "uninsured" American citizens.

Torture Methods:
Gulag -- starvation, beatings, exposure to elements, slave labor.
Guantanamo -- humiliation, standing on the koran.

Get the picture?


Posted by delftsman3 at June 27, 2005 01:16 PM

1. "Chosha,might I suggest that you go to Terrorist Media, register, and see what REAL torture and Nazi's look like?"
You can't justify torture but comparing it to worse torture. It's like justifying a rape by giving an example of a rape/murder and saying, 'at least he didn't kill her'.

Argue, by all means. But argue well.

2. (3 is positive! :))"...an unnamed FBI agent vs a Marine Lt. that speaks on the record...WHO do I believe?...it's not like the FBI would ever "play politics" that would reflect badly on a President..at least not since "Deep Throat"..."

I'm not going to claim that the Lt is lying. I don't know that one way or the other. But I do know that he is a subjective source. Anyone even vaguely familiar with military culture should recognise that military personal lying to cover the military's ass is not remotely new or unusual, loyalty and obedience being the paramount virtues of the military. As for the FBI, you had to go back a long way to find an example of them having a reason to discredit a president. And in that case they were discrediting that president personally. A little different. Obviously I can't say definitively which is true, but I do think it's pretty easy to say which is more likely to have occurred. I wouldn't say he's lying about most of what he said. I just think it's fair to consider he may not be honest about torture methods that occur.

3. Now the Amnesty International report is a better, much more objective source. That I can take on board, and it does suggest lend more weight to the idea that the other report could be false. I'd much rather believe that was the case.

If, however, it ends up being accurate, you might want to note that would add 'starvation' and 'exposure to elements' to your list of torture methods, which both appear on the gulag list. (Therefore again backing up the reasons the senator used that comparison for the acts described in the report...as you've just pointed out from the AI report, they are gulag style practices.)

Posted by chosha at June 28, 2005 11:15 PM
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