Monday, June 20, 2005

Defining Durbin

Hugh Hewitt has a fairly thorough piece in the Daily Standard on Dick Durbin's remarks last week and his failure to back off of them.

A few things occur to me. Durbin notes that these terrorists don't fit the definition of POWs, (meaning that their status as illegal combatants affords them no rights). But then he accuses us of systematically violating the Geneva Convention while knowing that it doesn't apply. Then he launches into a series of non-sequiturs explaining the problems that coercive interrogation of terrorists will cause.

He claims that the way we treat terrorists will affect the way our soldiers are treatedin captivity. And that is plainly hogwash. Placing international terrorists in the same category as the Armed Forces of the United States is not just incorrect, it is insulting. The terrorists are fettered neither by treaty nor by the sense of decency underpinning the Geneva Conventions. They routinely murder prisoners of war. And they murder non-combatant civilians on tape for all to see (a violation of the Geneva Convention, by the way). They would not dream of granting us the same protections to which they claim entitlement.

But one of the more interesting features of his position is that the treatment received by terrorists at Gitmo recruits more terrorists. I would agree, to the extent that it is openly called "torture" by an opportunistic, partisan Senator who displays for the world what appears to be a split within the United States Government as to how seriously we wish to press the War on Terror. When this enemy sees a weakness in enforcement they find it encouraging. I fully expect them to exploit it, because these terrorists are extremely clever.

They make a point of operating in nations where there is popular or at least government support for their philosophies. They also know that they can safely operate in western nations with strong civil liberties, like Germany, France, Britain and the United States. And they know that the media loves them because the modern western media seems to have an unusual sympathy for those who practice antisocial behavior. They also know to claim to be victims of torture because they know that self-appointed western watchdog groups and the media will jump, as they hold their own soldiers suspect. Like a harp, they play these naive activists, and stories are presented to Americans that bear little resemblance to reality.

Interestingly, though, Gitmo's prison did not exist back on September 10, 2001. Those planes found their way into those buildings just the same.

And many coercive (although not tortuous) interrogations have provided us with information that has helped us interdict attacks on our Homeland. Because terrorists comforts are not as important to me as preserving the safety of the American people. A thing that the senior senator from Illinois might wish to consider.

Dick Durbin did a significant disservice to his nation in the War on Terror. He needs to pay the public price for showing such an appalling lack of restraint. And given the fact that no Democrats have emerged to distance themselves from their colleague and leader, combined with Durbin's repeated refusals to back off of his statements or apologize for the actual things he said (as opposed to our perceptions of them), opens the door to the tolerance of a certain level of this kind of irresponsible and intemperate rhetoric from this unscrupulous group of Senators. This is not a time to pour more hysterical talk into the national dialogue.

It's time to censure him. Because this kind of behavior isn't want Americans do either.

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