The North Koreans are apparently preparing to detonate a nuclear weapon in a test that may drift radiation over North America. As a senior Defense Department official said Thursday, one unmistakable message of the test will be that the world cannot deny any nation such weapons. The President continues, inexplicably, to allow Syria to be a sanctuary for insurgents killing Americans in Iraq. The presidential (and, for that matter, vice-presidential and defense-secretarial) time and energy that should be spent on those pressing problems is increasingly consumed with the increasingly-hysterical Democrats' attempts to push America through a time warp and back to 1968.
There's a reason for all the calumniating about the war we're in. Last November's losers, the Dems and the mainstream media, believe any exercise of American power is illegitimate, dangerous, imperialistic, and illegal. Before the next presidential election, they are desperate to create, especially among younger voters, another Vietnam Generation: disaffected, distrustful of their nation, its morals and its motivations. All our young folks hear these days is Gitmo this, Abu Ghraib that, and when are we going to withdraw from Iraq? When was the last time you spoke to anyone under 20 about the war, and about how it will affect their future? Please consider the consequences if you don't. If your teenagers only hear the outrageous lies coming from the Deanocrats and don't get the facts from parents and family friends, they could grow up to be senators from Illinois.
As if to compensate for having sent us Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen, the state of Illinois has inflicted us with Richard Durbin. When last we viewed this otherwise insignificant man, he was one of three Democratic senators who were the subject of a CIA request to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation into their intentional leaking some of our nation's most closely kept secrets. That request has lain dormant for more than six months in large part because alleged Senate majority leader, Sen. Bill Frist, has shown no interest in it. Now Durbin has provided a redundant proof of his unfitness for office.
Last Tuesday, at the end of a characteristically forgettable speech, Durbin referred to an FBI memo alleging harsh treatment of one of the terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After reading part of the memo, Durbin said, "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."
We might never have heard about Durbin's remarks were it not for my pal Laura Ingraham and her nearly-omniscient producer, Lee Habeeb, who caught Durbin in the act and played the audio on Laura's radio show last Wednesday before anyone else reported it. (Actually, there is a question about who reported it first. A senior Defense Department official said Thursday that al-Jazeera had it five minutes after Durbin spoke. I did not attempt to confirm this with Mr. Jihad Ballout, al-Jazeera's press officer. And no, I'm not making his name up.) Durbin and the rest of the hyperlibs are making a commonplace of utterly false accusations of crimes against humanity against brave, dedicated Americans who are defending this nation.
Let's ignore the fact that the FBI memo Durbin read from is comprised of unproven allegations which are now the subject of an ongoing investigation. Durbin doesn't care about the truth of the allegations. He wanted to attract attention, and he succeeded to a degree he never envisioned.
We executed Nazi and Japanese war criminals for murdering millions, and Israel hung Adolf Eichmann after a long trial and his conviction of participating in the Nazis murder of millions. Pol Pot's actions in Cambodia planned and murdered between 1.5 and 3 million. No one knows how many millions were murdered by beating, starvation, and freezing in the Gulags, but the best estimates say the Soviets murdered at least 20 million people. How many have died at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. Durbin? The answer is zero.
IF YOU BELIEVE THE DEANOCRATS and their media pals, we're holding people incommunicado, in a legal limbo, where innocents are beaten, starved, and tortured, that America is an international outlaw, that Gitmo is OBL's best recruiting tool, that we're violating the Geneva Conventions, and that all the Islamic fascisti would join with us to sing Kumbaya if only we closed Gitmo. Enough. You won't get your teens to read all three volumes of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. But you may, at least, be able to get them to read from here to the bottom of this article.
We're holding people there incommunicado? According to 1st Lt. Wade Brown, the chief mail man at Gitmo, every detainee at Gitmo, regardless of his conduct, is allowed mail privileges unless he can't be trusted with a pen because he's threatened to harm himself. Lt. Brown, in a sworn declaration dated March 17, 2005, said that from September 2004 through February 2005, 14,000 pieces of mail were sent or received by detainees at Gitmo.
Legal limbo? Some 800 suspected terrorists have, so far, been incarcerated at Gitmo. All of them have had their cases reviewed by military commissions. About 235 have been released, 61 are today awaiting release or transfer, and about 520 remain, having been given all the due process to which they are entitled by U.S. and international law, including the Geneva Conventions. They are enemy combatants. We are entitled to hold them until the war is over whether it's tomorrow or in 2525.
Are we torturing and starving these people? No. Chaining someone to a wall or a floor isn't comfortable, but it isn't torture. And it's important to remember what is. Nearly two years ago, I spoke to three men who were held in a Saudi jail and given the full Lubyanka treatment. In a 2003 interview, James Lee, Peter Brandon, and Glenn Ballard each told me of how they were treated. What Brandon described to me was credible and consistent with what the other two said.
Brandon told me he was "systematically beaten" and subjected to what he called the "rotisserie" treatment. "I was shackled at the feet, you see, and handcuffed," Brandon told me. "And they sort of thread a broom handle through your arms and your legs. Then you're hung upside down, and so you've got all the weight on the creases of your arms, so it's very painful." On the third day, they beat his bare feet with an ax handle so badly that his feet were bloody. He was screaming so much that they forced a gag down his throat, and for a moment stopped his breathing. After about five days of beatings and sleep deprivation, the Saudis threatened to arrest Brandon's wife and toddler son. He broke down, and confessed to terrorist bombings he says he didn't commit. I believe Brandon and the others of the crimes they were convicted of because the Saudis released them instead of executing them or imprisoning them for life under what passes for law there. What went on in that Saudi jail was torture. What's going on at Gitmo isn't.
What is going on is the interrogation and extended detention of some of the worst hard-case terrorists. They are terrorist trainers and financiers, bomb makers, would-be suicide bombers, terrorist recruiters and facilitators, and some of OBL's bodyguards. Of the hundreds who were judged not to be terrorists and released, at least a dozen have been recaptured on the battlefield, having again taken arms to kill Americans. The intelligence gained at Gitmo is enabling us to prevent terrorist attacks and save American lives.
Because of people such as Dick Durbin, America lost its will to fight, and lost the Vietnam War. That loss didn't deprive Americans of life and liberty. If we lose this war, we lose America.
If you watch the video of Durbin's remarks, you'll see what I saw: his face morphing into that of Jane Fonda. Apologize, Mr. Durbin. Or resign.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).