Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Storm in a teacup 2

Over at the Belgravia Despatch, there's a good roundup of recent posts that effectively take the same position on Durbin that I did. I'm relieved to see some of the explicitly GOP-supporting folks at Red State take a very similar line.

John Cole, whose post is well worth quoting at length:

I find it perfectly reasonable that individuals such as BlackFive, Greyhawk, and Lt. Smash might find Durbin's remarks offensive, because any comparison that allows an inference that our troops are on the level with the odious Khmer Rouge and Nazis is rife with opportunities to create a great deal of offense ... [excerpts speech and FBI testimony] Are Durbin's remarks really that offensive? Do you honestly hear descriptions like that and think to yourself- "Gee, American troops do that all the time." Of course you don't, and I don't either. I think of some third world dictator, some tin-pot despot who brutalizes not only his enemy but his own people. Someone like, for example, Saddam Hussein. Or Pol Pot. And that was Durbin's point- not that we are Nazis, but that we are better than Nazis by an order of magnitude, and that such acts of abuse, while rare, are beneath us. What should offend you is not what Durbin said, but the possibility that what Durbin said regarding the abuse may be accurate -even if it happened only once. And spare me the false bravado and the tough-guy attitudes about how this doesn't sound so tough, and they deserve what they get. I am all in favor of stern measures and tough interrogation practices, but there are lines that should not be crossed. If your attitude is that because some evil people killed 3,000 people on 9/11, we have the moral high ground and are thus free to do as we please, including chaining people in a fetal position and forcing them to wallow in their own urine and feces, you might as well stop reading now because we aren't going to agree on anything. We have the right to to detain these people, we have the right to interrogate these people, and we, in the future, have a right to try them for their crimes and punish them appropriately. But we also have an obligation to ourselves and to the rest of the world to treat these detainees humanely, lawfully, and in accordance to the history of decency that I proudly associate with the United States. To do otherwise is to stain our dignity and our honor, as well as our reputation and good standing in the world. I am happy that we do our best to take care of these detainees, and I am very glad that we do treat them well the vast majority of the time. That doesn't mean that I am willing to just dismiss observations from FBI agents as 'nonsense,' and it doesn't mean that I believe the key to long-term success in Iraq and in the larger War on Terror is through petty partisan games like calls for censure and "I Love Gitmo" propaganda campaigns

That is the voice of a true conservative and patriot talking, in my view. Heartening to read.

Also, Josh Trevino (formerly known as Tacitus):

The substance is, distressingly enough, there. Specifically, the Senator cites some appalling abuse as witnessed by an FBI agent. While it is fashionable in certain crowds to shrug at these things on the grounds that the victims are all terrorists anyway, the affected apathy leaves some assumptions unexamined. Those assumptions are: first, that the abuse as reported was as bad as it got; second, that the victims are all terrorists. Both assumptions are false. We know that dozens of prisoners have died in American custody, with a shameful proportion being probable homicides. We also know that many prisoners have been released from Camp X-Ray, apparently not terrorists after all

Now, two caveats here: no one, to my knowledge, has died at Camp X-Ray; and the specific techniques witnessed by Durbin's FBI source were, I am fairly sure, accepted US military interrogation tactics as long as twenty years ago. These are mitigating facts if you fixate on rhetoric in a vacuum, studiously ignore the constellation of American prisons other than Guantanamo, and pretend that rap music, shackles and uncomfortable air temperature is the extent of the problem. Knowing that on the next news cycle Durbin will be yesterday's news and our wartime prisons will remain a current affair, what would an adult do?


Again, I find nothing with which to disagree and am pleased to find my comments on Gitmo in general and Durbin in particular echoed.

Finally, John Cole skewers PowerLine's breathless reaction. The PowerLine post itself is a glittering model of pomposity and all too representative:

I called Senator Dick Durbin's office this morning at ... and, after being on hold for a while, laid out the reasons why I think Durbin should resign from the Senate ... We'd be interested to hear from others how their calls to Durbin's office are received.

Well I can only say that if I was the person receiving that particular call, the reception would probably be along the lines of "Stick it up your arse". But then that's why I'd never be elected to public office.

Except possibly in Russia.

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