Yesterday Senator Dick Durbin apologized for comparing interrogations techniques at Guantanamo with methods practiced by Nazis, Stalin, and Pol Pot in his speech of June 14. I'm not sorry that he apologized; I'm sorry he brought up Nazis and other baddies. He'd already said what he needed to say.
--Alberto Gonzales, then-White House chief counsel, recommended to the President the Geneva Convention should not apply to the war on terrorism.
--Colin Powell, who was then Secretary of State, objected strenuously to Alberto Gonzales' conclusions. In a memo to Gonzales, Powell wrote that setting aside the Geneva Conventions "will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice... and undermine the protections of the law of war for our own troops... It will undermine public support among critical allies, making military cooperation more difficult to sustain."
--After the President decided to ignore Geneva Conventions, the administration unilaterally created a new detention policy. They claim the right to seize anyone, including even American citizens, anywhere in the world, including in the United States, and hold them until the end of the war on terrorism, whenever that may be.
--U.S. military lawyers called this detention system "a legal black hole." The Red Cross concluded, "U.S. authorities have placed the internees in Guantanamo beyond the law."
--A Federal court has already held the administration has failed to comply with the Supreme Court's rulings. The court concluded that the detainees do have legal rights, and the administration's policies "deprive the detainees of sufficient notice of the factual bases for their detention and deny them a fair opportunity to challenge their incarceration."
--With no input from Congress, the administration set aside our treaty obligations and secretly created new rules for detention and interrogation. They claim the courts have no right to review these rules. But under our Constitution, it is Congress's job to make the laws, and the court's job to judge whether they are constitutional.
--The administration also established a new interrogation policy that allows cruel and inhuman interrogation techniques.
-- Secretary Rumsfeld approved numerous abusive interrogation tactics against prisoners in Guantanamo. The Red Cross concluded that the use of those methods was "a form of torture."
--Numerous FBI agents who observed interrogations at Guantanamo Bay complained to their supervisors. In one e-mail that has been made public, an FBI agent complained that interrogators were using "torture techniques." That phrase did not come from a reporter or politician. It came from an FBI agent describing what Americans were doing to these prisoners.
--Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
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.
By this point, Durbin had drawn a clear picture of an administration that had cast off or maneuvered around any restraint of international agreement or constitutional law, granted itself absolute power, and incontrovertible evidence of the corrupted abuse of that power.
Then he brought up Nazis and Commies and blew it. He should have known better. He'd seen what the Rove Machine had done with the Amnesty International comments.
Now, most of American will only remember that Durbin called it bad names. It will forget Durbin's stark, urgent message: the power of the mightiest nation in history resides in one man--unchecked, unconstrained, and unaccountable.
Patriots like Senator Durbin want us to take our republic back, and I do too.