The paragraph made famous by Dick Durbin: "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 photos are just snapshots, giving the barest glimpse of the wholesale atrocities that led to the murder of millions in each of the respective countries. Can we agree that, no matter how the words are weaseled, putting American in the same sentence with Nazis, gulags and the Khmer Rouge has no place in civil political discourse? If you don't agree, fine, then accept that consciously or unconsciously, like it or not, the above images come to mind when such rhetoric is employed. From where I sit, those are the images now tied to the United States of America when those associations are made (hat tip to Donald Sensing for the photos). Can we agree that throwing down the Nazi and gulag cards is simply not a thing reasonable people should do?
Speaking of agreement, having read Durbin's statement in its entirety, I found myself agreeing with pretty much all of it, offending paragraph notwithstanding. I agree with Durbin that that the detainees should not be given prisoner of war status. I agree with Durbin that Gitmo should stay in operation. I agree with Durbin that we should abide by the Geneva Conventions and the rulings of the Supreme Court. I agree with Durbin that our treatment of many detainees has been deporable. I agree with Durbin that all detainees should be treated humanely. Because of my broad agreement with what he said, that is why it is so unfortunate that an otherwise sensible and temperate speech was drowned out and frittered away with abusive, counterproductive and unimaginative hyperbole. Taking a step beyond what Durbin recommended, President Bush should appoint a bipartisan commission--similar in authority and scope to the 9/11 Commission--to expeditiously investigate all incidences of mistreatment, fold all the separate investigations into a single authority, hold accountable those responsible and make recommendations as necessary.