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Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006

TIME magainze just rated Dick Durbin as one of the nation’s ten best Senators. Go read the article (it’s not long) and report back with your thoughts.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill Baar - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:31 am:

    He’d be better off with the notes.

    Nov 2006 will tell a lot about how effective he is. I think he’s taking the party over a cliff.

  2. - Leroy - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:39 am:

    Rich..did you post the wrong link?

    His Holiness Pope Obama I is nowhere to be found on that list. Surely this is a mistake.

  3. - Wumpus - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:47 am:

    Leroy, are you crazy? Obama is on a list superlative to the top ten. He is much greater than a senator. Seriously, I was curious to see if BO would make it given the fact he has been there for 2 years and it is too early to tell in all fairness.

  4. - Backyard Conservative - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:49 am:

    Obama made “honorable mention”.

  5. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:51 am:

    That article is relatively old news. The list itself is interesting in that includes some good info on who can get things done.

    A lot of right wing fanatics don’t like Sen. Durbin, but you have to respect the job that he does. He is a very effective leader for the party. The Reid/Durbin team is far superior to the Daschle efforts.

    There are reasons that the Democrats look like they are going to have a big year in 2006, and Sen. Durbin is definitely one of those reasons.

    And with regard to the Nazi/Gitmo comment: We should have a rule here that nobody can comment on that statement until you have actually read it. When you read the entire statement, it is a great speech. Unfortunately, too many Republicans simply read the Limbaugh four word version of that speech.

  6. - GOPJay - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:52 am:

    Time magazine? Liberal media? Nah! Any US Senator that compares American soldiers to Nazis has to be one of the best senators of all time.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:54 am:

    Seems odd that aside from deriding a couple as “worst” because of what they term “eratic” behavior, most of what they use to judge a senator is on legislative OUTPUT. So if you don’t have your name on a bunch of stuff, you’re not a good U.S. Senator?

    I thought Congress was set up so the Senate was supposed to be sort of the reasonable “check” on the crazy, overly-eager House. I think a better judge of a Senator would be on their questioning in committee hearings, representation of their areas during times of crisis (i.e. Louisiana after Katrina or New York in the aftermath of 9-11), and how well they do constituent services. Most of these are pretty tough to guage in any “fair” way without spending an incredible amount of time in every committee a senator attends, combing through state and local news clips for each senator, and have a good grasp of each area within each state.

    I think the article is a joke, regardless who they picked for either list. Seems a bit presumptuous - even for a publication like TIME.

  8. - Johnny - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 9:09 am:

    The inclusion of Ted “Q: What is the difference between Ted Kennedy and a B-52 bomber? A: One bombs bridges, the other drives over bridges bombed” Kennedy was a nice touch.

    Any other Senators convicted of leaving the scene of an accident after causing death on the list?

  9. - Bass Man - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 9:26 am:

    TIME magazine is as comparable to the old TASS soviet news agency…its no wonder Durbin would rate high on their list. Just like other notable democrats, time is suppose to make it easy for them to let the past slip into the black abiss and recreate yourself as a force for change. Well this is one individual that does not forget the Mr. Durbin was one of the worst offenders during the House of Representatives check keiting scandal. Most of us would be felons, but not Durbin. I will give him credit for being consistent in his total liberal convictions…at least I know where he stands…as far left as one can get.

  10. - Cassandra - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 9:56 am:

    What worries me about Durbin is that he is such a total Mayor Daley suckup even though as a career politician he must be very well informed about all the corruption in the Daley administration. Not a peep of criticism from Durbin, though.

  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 10:12 am:

    I noticed that the list includes a generation that is considered by historians as the “invisible” generation, a bridge generation between the Greatest and the Boomers. This generation is invisible for a reason - they stand for nothing, making every compromise attractive to them. Their opinion on what makes them great senators is their lack of convictions except a conviction against convictions.

    Durbin has been told what a great debater he is for so long, he is believing it. His problem isn’t his inability to talk about every side of an issue, it is his inability to reach a decision because he wants to debate.

    Some things are NOT debatable. Durbin doesn’t believe that. His legal training has worked for him for so long, he sees everything as gray - not black and white. How can any senator debase the US during wartime, just for the sake of debate? Durbin can, and this is a real problem. You don’t have to be an extremist to see this guy will backstab you just to consider what you look like with a knife in your back. How many times have we seen Durbin wince a pained expression and sadly tell us that we are a bunch of idiots, and he is so sad to have to show us his tough love? Can you say holier-than-thou? This generation unsurprisingly includes Jimmy Carter, an abject presidential failure bar none.

    This generation’s mindset is extremely old. Although they don’t remember the New Deal, like Durbin, they still romanticize an obsolete idea that government can make everything wonderful if you just have the right experts, and give them enough money. The Democratic party is still struggling to move from this mindset, along with France, Germany, Italy and other socialist basketcases. Somehow they ignored life since 1980.

    Time listed senators they feel they can sway. That top ten list is correct, these guys can be talked into a war, then talked out of it, then talked into it again, then talked out of it again, then discuss it ad nauseum, and then feel righteous enough to stand before us and tell us their truths; there has to be a compromise somewhere!

    These guys are not leaders. Time is only interested in senators that listen to Time. The liberal media continues to give these invisible guys tongue baths because these senators are so noncommital. Like these senators, Time still thinks we’re living in 1936. Perhaps thats why their circulation continues to drop. This generation is dying off.

  12. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 10:15 am:

    Bass Man:

    How do you reconcile your “Tass” comments with the fact that Time ranked Thad Cochran #1? Is Senator Cochran some sort of left wing extremist?

  13. - Marta Elena - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 10:26 am:


    I agree with you. Durbin is too entrenched in the Daley machine that he will never speak out - or pause for speculation…about Chicago politics.

  14. - Mike Flannery's "what?" - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 10:31 am:

    “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,”
    Yeah, great guy… loves his country…

  15. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:03 am:

    FM, in typical right wing extremist fashion, has taken words out of context. It is clear that FM either has never read the words, or personally approves of torture as a matter of policy.

    Here is a more complete version of the statement by Sen. Durbin:

    “When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]–I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. 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.
    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.”

    Senator Durbin has also provided a much more detailed analysis of the issue, which he gave on the Senate floor. I doubt that most of you right wing extremists will read it, but if you, you will find his words moving and accurate:

    “Floor Statement of Sen. Richard Durbin

    On the Durbin Torture Amendment

    June 16, 2004

    I hope we can work on this tomorrow, and I will confer with the chairman on that aspect.

    I come to the floor today to offer amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.

    The amendment would reaffirm a very important, long-standing position of our nation: that the United States shall not engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This is a standard that is embodied in the U.S. Constitution and in numerous international agreements which the United States has ratified.

    The amendment would require the Defense Secretary to issue guidelines to ensure compliance with this standard and to provide these guidelines to Congress. The Defense Secretary would also be required to report to Congress on any suspected violations of the prohibition on torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The amendment specifically provides that this information should be provided to Congress in a manner and form that would protect national security.

    Let me also explain what this amendment would not do. It would not impose any new legal obligations on the United States. It would not limit our ability to use the full range of interrogation techniques that are outlined in the Army interrogation manual. It would not affect the status of any person under the Geneva Conventions or whether any person is entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

    It would only reaffirm and ensure compliance with our long-standing obligation not to subject detainees to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

    The amendment is supported by a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, including human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, religious institutions such as the Episcopal Church, and military officers, such as retired Rear Admiral John Hutson.

    Admiral Hutson was a Navy Judge Advocate for 28 years and from 1997-2000, he was the Judge Advocate General, the top lawyer in the Navy. In a letter in support of this amendment, he wrote:

    It is absolutely necessary that the United States maintain the high ground in this area and that Congress take a firm stand on the issue. ….. It is critical that we remain steadfast in our absolute opposition to torture and [cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment]. Senator Durbin’s proposed amendment is a critical first step in that regard.

    In the aftermath of 9/11, some have called for the United States to abandon this commitment. But President Bush has made it clear that he does not support this position. On June 26, 2003, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the President said:

    The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment.

    I commend the President for standing behind our treaty obligations. Now the Congress must do no less. The world is watching us. They are asking whether the United States will stand behind its treaty obligations in the age of terrorism. With American troops in harm’s way, we need to tell the world and the American people that the United States is committed to treating all detainees humanely.

    As we mourn the passing of President Ronald Reagan, we should recall his vision of America as a shining city upon a hill–a model of democracy, freedom and the rule of law that people around the world look to for inspiration. As President Reagan said in his Farewell Address to the Nation:

    After 200 years, two centuries, [America] still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom.

    President Reagan was right. Our city upon a hill must hold steady in defense of our principles no matter what storm. Despite the threat of terrorism, we must stand by our opposition to torture and other cruel treatment.

    In fact, it was President Reagan who first transmitted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to the Senate with his recommendation that the Senate ratify the treaty.

    We are in the process of defining our values as a country in the age of terrorism. We need to make it clear that we will not compromise principles that have guided us and other civilized nations for hundreds of years.

    The prohibition on torture and other cruel treatment is deeply rooted in our history. In 15th and 16th Century England, the infamous Star Chamber issued warrants authorizing the use of torture against political opponents of the Crown. Supporters of the Star Chamber claimed that torture was necessary to protect the security of the state. Blackstone, the English jurist who greatly influenced the Founding Fathers, said: “It seems astonishing that this usage of torture should be said to arise from a tenderness to the lives of men.'’ Those words still ring true today.

    In 1641, the Star Chamber was abolished and the use of torture warrants ended. A prohibition on torture and cruel treatment developed in English common law. The English Bill of Rights of 1689, which served as a model for our Bill of Rights, contained a ban on “cruel and unusual punishments.'’

    This history carried great weight with the Framers of our Constitution. During the Constitutional Conventions, Patrick Henry, in a statement that typified the Founders’ views, said: “What has distinguished our ancestors? That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment.'’

    During the Constitutional Convention, George Mason, who is known as “the Father of the Bill of Rights,'’ explained that the 5th Amendment ban on self-incrimination and the Eighth Amendment ban of cruel and unusual punishment both prohibit torture and cruel treatment.

    Our history makes clear that these principles also guided us during times of war. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln asked Francis Lieber, a military law expert, to create a set of rules to govern the conduct of U.S. soldiers in the field. The Lieber Code prohibited torture or other cruel treatment of captured enemy forces. It became the foundation for the modern law of war, which is embodied in the Geneva Conventions.

    In the early twentieth century, the emergence of large police departments in the United States was accompanied by a dramatic increase in the abuse of suspects in police custody. President Hoover appointed the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, also known as the Wickersham Commission, to review law enforcement practices. In 1931, the Commission’s findings shocked the nation and permanently transformed the nature of American law enforcement.

    The Commission concluded:

    The third degree is the employment of methods which inflict suffering, physical or mental, upon a person, in order to obtain from that person information about a crime. . . . The third degree is widespread. The third degree is a secret and illegal practice. When all allowances are made it remains beyond a doubt that the practice is shocking in its character and extent, violative of American traditions and institutions, and not to be tolerated.

    The commission catalogued and condemned “third degree'’ methods, including, physical brutality, threats, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme cold or heat–also known as “the sweat box'’–and blinding with powerful lights and other forms of sensory overload or deprivation.

    The commission also discussed practical reasons to reject the “third degree'’:

    The third degree involves the danger of false confessions. . . so many instances have been brought to our attention during this investigation that we feel convinced not only of its existence but of its seriousness.

    The third degree impairs police efficiency. . . . It tends to make [police] less zealous in the search of objective evidence.

    The third degree brutalizes the police, hardens the prisoner against society, and lowers the esteem in which the administration of justice is held by the public. Probably the third degree has been a chief factor in bringing about the present attitude of hostility on the part of a considerable portion of the population toward the police and the very general failure of a large element of the people to aid or cooperate with the police in maintaining law and order.

    Over the next two decades, numerous Supreme Court opinions cited the Wickersham Commission report and condemned the use of various third degree methods as unconstitutional.

    As the landscape of American policing was being reshaped, the horrific abuses of Nazi Germany began to come to light. This reinforced American opposition to torture and other forms of cruel treatment.

    One of the counts in the Nuremberg indictment of Gestapo officials detailed official orders approving the application of “third degree'’ techniques, including “[a] very simple diet (bread and water)[,] hard bunk[,] dark cell[,] deprivation of sleep[,] exhaustive drilling[,] ….. [and] flogging (for more than 29 strokes a doctor must be consulted)'’ as a means of obtaining evidence, or “information of important facts'’ regarding subversion. One of the defenses raised by Gestapo officers was that such actions were necessary to protect against Resistance terrorism.

    After World War II, in the aftermath of Nuremberg and the disclosure of Nazi Gestapo tactics, the United States and our allies created a new international legal order based on respect for human rights.

    One of its fundamental tenets was a universal prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The United States took the lead in establishing a succession of international agreements that ban the use of torture and other cruel treatment against all persons at all times. There are no exceptions to this prohibition.

    Eleanor Roosevelt was the Chair of the U.N. Commission that produced the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The Universal Declaration states unequivocally, “No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.'’

    The United States, along with a majority of countries in the world, is a party to the Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, all of which prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

    Army regulations that implement these treaty obligations state:

    Inhumane treatment is a serious and punishable violation under international law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. All prisoners will receive humane treatment without regard to race, nationality, religion, political opinion, sex, or other criteria. The following acts are prohibited: murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation, the taking of hostages, sensory deprivation, collective punishments, execution without trial by proper authority, and all cruel and degrading treatment. All persons will be respected as human beings. They will be protected against all acts of violence to include rape, forced prostitution, assault and theft, insults, public curiosity, bodily injury, and reprisals of any kind This list is not exclusive.

    Some people may be asking, “What is, `cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.’ ‘’ How can the United States be bound by such an uncertain standard?

    The United States Senate debated this question before ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Torture Convention. In response to this concern, we filed reservations to both of these agreements. A reservation is a statement filed by the Senate that clarifies our obligations under international agreements.

    These reservations state that the United States is bound to prevent “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment'’ only to the extent that that phrase means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. In other words, “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment'’ is defined by the U.S. Constitution, and the United States is only prohibited from engaging in conduct that is already unconstitutional.

    This provides certainty and clarity. In 1990, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Torture Convention and an official from the first Bush administration explained the reservation:

    We have proposed this reservation because the terms “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'’ used in this Convention are vague and are not evolved concepts under international law. ….. On the other hand, the concept of cruel and unusual punishment under the United States Constitution is well developed, having evolved through court decisions over a period of 200 years.

    The current administration has confirmed that it stands by this reservation. Last year, Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes said:

    “[C]ruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'’ means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. United States policy is to treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations, wherever they may occur, in a manner consistent with this commitment.

    Aside from our legal obligations, there are also important practical reasons for standing by our commitment not to engage in torture or other cruel treatment.

    Torture is an ineffective interrogation tactic because it produces unreliable information. People who are being tortured will often lie to their torturer in order to stop the pain.

    Resorting to torture and ill treatment of detainees would make us less secure, not more. It would create anti-American sentiment at a time when we need the support and assistance of other countries in the war on terrorism.

    Finally, and most importantly, if we were to engage in torture or ill treatment of detainees, we would increase the risk of subjecting members of the Armed Forces to torture if they are captured by our enemies.

    The U.S. Army fully recognizes these practical downsides. The Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation states:

    Use of torture and other illegal methods is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear. Revelation of use of torture by U.S. personnel will bring discredit upon the U.S. and its armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort. It may also place U.S. and allied personnel in enemy hands at a greater risk of abuse by their captors.

    As the great American patriot Thomas Paine said: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.'’

    Sadly, the “third degree,'’ which was condemned by the Wickersham Commission in 1931 and in subsequent Supreme Court decisions, has reemerged in modern times with a new name: “stress and duress.'’ “Stress and duress'’ tactics, which are also known as “torture lite,'’ include extended food, sleep, sensory, or water deprivation, exposure to extreme heat or cold, and “position abuse,'’ which involves forcing detainees to assume positions designed to cause pain or humiliation. “Stress and duress'’ tactics clearly constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

    As the Supreme Court explained in Blackburn v. Alabama, a 1960 case:

    [C]oercion can be mental as well as physical ….. the blood of the accused is not the only hallmark of an unconstitutional inquisition. A number of cases have demonstrated, if demonstration were needed, that the efficiency of the rack and the thumbscrew can be matched, given the proper subject, by more sophisticated modes of “persuasion.'’

    Let’s take one example: sleep deprivation. In Ashcraft v. Tennessee, a 1944 case, the Supreme Court held that a confession obtained by depriving a suspect of sleep and continuously questioning him for 36 hours was involuntarily coerced. For the majority, Justice Hugo Black wrote:

    It has been known since 1500 at least that deprivation of sleep is the most effective torture and certain to produce any confession desired [quoting the Wickersham Commission]. ….. We think a situation such as that here shown by uncontradicted evidence is so inherently coercive that its very existence is irreconcilable with the possession of mental freedom by a lone suspect against whom its full coercive force is brought to bear.

    As explained in a recent New York Times article by Adam Hochschild, sleep deprivation was widely used in the Middle Ages on suspected witches - it was called tormentum insomniae. Stalin’s secret police subjected prisoners to the “conveyer belt,'’ continuous questioning by numerous interrogators until the prisoner signed a confession. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wrote about his experience with sleep deprivation in a Soviet prison in the 1940s:

    In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep, to sleep just a little. ….. Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger or thirst are comparable with it. ….. I came across prisoners who signed what they were told to sign, only to get what the interrogator promised them ….. uninterrupted sleep!

    Another example is “position abuse.'’ In 2002, in a case called Hope v. Pelzer, the Supreme Court addressed this issue. Hope, a prisoner, was handcuffed to a “hitching post'’ for seven hours in the sun and not allowed to use the bathroom. The Court held that this violated the 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Court said:

    The obvious cruelty inherent in this practice should have provided [the prison guards] with some notice that their alleged conduct violated Hope’s constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Hope was treated in a way antithetical to human dignity–he was hitched to a post for an extended period of time in a position that was painful, and under circumstances that were both degrading and dangerous.

    In the 1930s, Stalin’s secret police forced dissidents to stand for prolonged periods to coerce confessions for show trials. In 1956, experts commissioned by the CIA documented the effects of forced standing. They found that ankles and feet swell to twice their normal size within 24 hours, the heart rate increases, some people faint, and the kidneys eventually shut down.

    For many years, the United States has characterized the use of “stress and duress'’ by other countries as “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.'’ The State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,'’ which are submitted to Congress every year, have condemned “beatings,'’ “threats to detainees or their family members,'’ “sleep deprivation,'’ “depriv[ation] of food and water,'’ “suspension for long periods in contorted positions,'’ “prolonged isolation,'’ “forced prolonged standing,'’ “tying of the hands and feet for extended periods of time,'’ “public humiliation,'’ “sexual humiliation,'’ and “female detainees ….. being forced to strip in front of male security officers.'’

    The Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation characterizes “stress and duress'’ as illegal physical and mental torture. The Manual states that “acts of violence or intimidation, including physical or mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to inhumane treatment as a means of or an aid to interrogation'’ are “illegal.'’ It defines “infliction of pain through ….. bondage (other than legitimate use of restraints to prevent escape),'’ “forcing an individual to stand, sit, or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time,'’ “food deprivation,'’ and “any form of beating,'’ as “physical torture'’ and defines “abnormal sleep deprivation'’ as “mental torture'’ and prohibits the use of these tactics under any circumstances.

    The Army Field Manual provides very specific guidance about interrogation techniques that may approach the line between lawful and unlawful actions. Before using a questionable interrogation technique, an interrogator is directed to ask whether “If your contemplated actions were perpetrated by the enemy against U.S. [prisoners of war], you would believe such actions violate international or U.S. law. ….. If you answer yes ….. do not engage in the contemplated action.'’

    This is the Army’s version of “the golden rule'’ - do unto others as you would have them do to you. It is an important reminder that the prohibition on torture and other cruel treatment protects American soldiers as much as it does the enemy. If enemy forces used stress and duress tactics on American soldiers, we would condemn them. We must hold ourselves to the same standard.

    The United States is not alone in condemning “torture lite.'’ In Israel, a country that has grappled with terrorism for decades, the Supreme Court held that “stress and duress'’ techniques violate international law and are absolutely prohibited. As the Court explained:

    These prohibitions are “absolute.'’ There are no exceptions to them and there is no room for balancing. Indeed violence directed at a suspect’s body or spirit does not constitute a reasonable investigation practice.

    For all of these reasons, it is vitally important that the Congress affirm the United States’ commitment not to engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    Our commitment to principle, even during difficult times, has made America a special country. In the age of terrorism, we may be tempted by the notion that torture is justified. But to sacrifice this principle would grant the terrorists a valuable victory at our expense.

    The Israeli Supreme Court has explained:

    Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual’s liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day, they strengthen its spirit and allow it to overcome its difficulties.

    The brutal slaying of Nicholas Berg reminded us that our enemies do not respect any rules in their relentless quest to kill Americans. But that is what distinguishes us from the terrorists we fight. There are some lines that we will not cross. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are inconsistent with the principles of liberty and the rule of law that underpin our democracy.

    As President Reagan reminded us, our city upon a hill must stand firm. The eyes of the world are upon us.

    I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

    It has been suggested to me by staff that perhaps I would offer the amendment this evening and then ask unanimous consent it be set aside while we work things out with Chairman Warner and other Senators who are interested in this issue.

    If there is no objection, with the understanding that I will not call up the amendment this evening and will wait until a decision from the chairman and the ranking member as to my place in line, I offer the amendment and merely at this point ask it be reported by the clerk.”

  16. - It's 5 O'clock somewhere - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:20 am:

    Has the good Senator helped out in our quest for affordable energy. He needs to pay attention to the needs of Illinois that is what he was eelected to do

  17. - NW burbs - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:22 am:

    It’s bizarre how many right-wingers don’t seem to be work with a full deck…

    GOPJay and FM prove the point — if they had bothered to actually, ya know, do some reading and learn the *facts* (instead of relying on the conservative talking points they found among the rabid radicals at TownHall or Freep) they would have known that Durbin was comparing the unAmerican, radical policies of allowing torture which our conservative White House put in place to the radical, inhumane policies of the world’s worst dictators.

    Our brave troops had nothing to do with it other than they were working in the environment of permissiveness Alberto Gonzales found excuses for and Don Rumsfeld allowed to happen.

    Learn to think for yourselves, conservatives.

  18. - NW burbs - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:25 am:

    It’s 5 O’clock — Durbin and the Democrats have fought harder and longer for sensible energy innovation than the Grand Old Big Business Party which is stuck in the status quo of digging for oil.

  19. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:38 am:

    skeeter, nw burbs:

    what do you make of the fact that it wasn’t the attacks of Rush Limbaugh or other “right wingers” that prompted Durbin to tearfully apologize for this remark (an apology that I would assume you both thought was unnecessary), but rather the blunt and passionate criticism of a fellow Democrat, the honorable Richard M. Daley?

    You can argue that Daley isn’t really a liberal, but he’s hardly a “right wing extremist.” Was he “not playing with a full deck” when he rebuked Durbin?

  20. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:43 am:

    He apologized for political reasons. The storm from the uneducated became too heavy.

  21. - I'm a fan.... - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 11:55 am:

    I was recently at an event that Durbin spoke at…above anything else, I appreciate the way he spends a lot of time downstate when he’s in Illinois. He was willing to cut a nice chunk out of his day to sit down and meet with a small group of iraqi war veterans to listen to their needs and assist them in receiving some assistance from Congress–his willingness to sit down and listen and show compassion, and ask questions is so refreshing to see in an elected official. I personally think he’s a very humble man–I feel like I’m listening to my own father when I see him at events–

  22. - the Patriot - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:00 pm:

    Democrats fought for energy innovation?? I believe Senator Dubrin blocked an energy bill because it was too favorable to those greedy farmers for ethanol subsidies. How many comprehensive energy bill passed under Clinton? The fact is the democrats including Durbin criticise the republicans but won’t help find alternatives. They are waiting for a 100% effecient, enviromentally safe fuel to fall from the sky in usable form. It took decades to refine the use of oil, it will take decades to refine the use of replacements.

    FYI, Durbins comments were not misplaced. A vetran senator does not choose words in a speech mistakenly. It was a planned and deliberate phrase to draw attention to a debate the Democrats wanted in the news cycle. Either concede he used the words on knowing the outcome or he is an idiot for not seeing what was coming. I don’t like Durbin, but the man is no idiot.

  23. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:00 pm:

    “The uneducated”?

    Wow, that’s a pretty disrespectful thing to say about the members of both the American Legion and the VFW - both of which criticized Durbin’s remarks and demanded that he offer an apology. Aren’t you the one who is constantly attacking Republicans for not being more “respectful” to veterans?

  24. - Raging RINO - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:03 pm:

    Man, Skeeter’s drinking the good kool-aid today. He’s so blinded by his hate for Republicans that he’s making less and less sense, what a sad way to go through life.

  25. - It's 5 O'clock somewhere - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:10 pm:

    Durbin is one of the best senators at being an obstructionist.

  26. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:19 pm:


    You have shown that the right wing media is great at spreading half-truths. So what? The VFW picked up a partial story, because that it all that they heard from your pals at Fox News. The VFW was wrong. I note that the VFW probably is more outraged over the B-Teams failure to provide American soldiers with body armor than with Sen. Durbin’s commnents.

    Regarding The (Alleged) Patriot:

    Of course he made the comments on purpose.


    The comments are correct.

    I have yet to see anybody who has actually read the full comments disagree with those comments.

    A person on the ground pulling out his own hair because of the illegal stress imposed? Read what our own interrogation manuals say. Is that the way Americans are expected to treat prisoners?

    I also note that I don’t believe it was American soldiers doing that in Gitmo, but the same CIA folks who thought Saddam had WMD.

  27. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:21 pm:

    - Raging RINO - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:03 pm:

    Man, Skeeter’s drinking the good kool-aid today. He’s so blinded by his hate for Republicans that he’s making less and less sense, what a sad way to go through life.

    If you have any FACTS to support that? It sure is easy to toss out insults though, isn’t it? It is much more difficult to address the merits of Sen. Durbin’s statements, and you clearly lack the intellectual ability to do so.

  28. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 12:55 pm:

    To return to the original question – I (brace yourselves for the shock!) disagree with the Times assessment of Durbin.

    In today’s Sun-Times, he is quoted as saying that in Iraq, “tensions continue to flare” and “there are no basic services.” Those statements are extremely misleading – downright wrong, actually – when not qualified as applying only to the Sunni Triangle. The VAST majority of Iraq is peaceful and secure, with a standard of living FAR better than when Saddam ruled. And that’s not coming from Fox News or Rush, that coming from the reports of commanders in the field and other non-right-wing extremists like Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. So why would the Senator try to create a false impression about the general situation in ‘Iraq’? Why would he dismiss the hard work that our Armed Forces have done to make the majority of that country peaceful and stable?

    To whatever extent that the Administration may be portraying our progress in Iraq in an unduly optimistic light, I think the left – under the ‘leadership’ of Durbin and others – are going much further to the other extreme and being unduly pessimistic.

  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:00 pm:

    I don’t want to get into a long debate here over Iraq, but GOP’s statement that things are great “when not qualified as applying only to the Sunni Triangle,” well, that’s about as misleading as you can get. A whole lot of people live in that area, which includes Baghdad. My in-laws (Christian Assyrians who live in Baghdad) have electricity for just 2 hours a day.

    Now, let’s move along.

  30. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:01 pm:

    Sorry for the double post, but getting back to the side debate with skeeter briefly:

    I’m sorry, but I’m not following your logic regarding the veteran’s groups criticism of Durbin. Are you saying that Fox News was the only news outlet that covered the story? Or are you saying that veterans only watch Fox News? How can you be so sure that they didn’t read the New York Times or watched CBS but still came to the same conclusion about the inappropriateness of Durbin’s remarks? Do you have any FACTS to support such certainty?

    And while the VFW and Legion may very well be more upset with the Bush administration over the body armor issue, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they were very passionately and publicly upset with Durbin over his remarks. Nor does it excuse the disrespect that you showed by casting them in with “the uneducated,” or assuming that the only reason that they were upset was because they didn’t have enough information.

  31. - Randall Sherman - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:07 pm:

    To those of you who didn’t read the feature in TIME carefully, the Senators in each catagory (best, worst and newcomers) were listed in altphabetical order (which is why Thad Cochran was listed first).

    The question I have is why the only state with two Senators on the “best” list (Arizona) is stuck with a pro football team that has one known championship in its 110 years of history (the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest professional football team in America, dating back to its origins as the Racine Avenue Cardinals on Chicago’s South Side in the 1890s)?

  32. - Pat C (soon to be me again) - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:20 pm:

    What a puff piece. Durbin is “bi partisan” - their examples are getting a Repub senator to go along with Dem legislation. A better example would be when Durbin went along with GOP lesislation.

    A lot of right wing fanatics don’t like Sen. Durbin, but you have to respect the job that he does.

    I respect that he is very good at towing to the line that pleases the Democratic base. One could only wish Sen. L. Grahm, Brownback could do as well.

  33. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:30 pm:

    Rich, my apologies. I didn’t see your comment until after I posted the second one. And I apologize for my part in perpetuating this tangential debate.

    In my defense, what I was trying to say is that Durbin’s assessment IS applicable to the Sunni Triangle. I am sorry if my verbiage was unclear. I would never think of demeaning the very real hardships that people in that zone still face everyday. But, I stand by my assertion – which is based on the reports of many credible sources – that the rest of the country (outside the Triangle) is relatively peaceful, stable, and enjoying a quality of life better than before the invasion.

  34. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:34 pm:

    Sorry again, but just to be clear - my understanding is that most if not all of Bagdad is considered to be in the Triangle. If that is wrong, then I plan on writing a very strongly worded letter to the producers of PBS Frontline.

  35. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:39 pm:

    It’s all in the triangle, but it’s the country’s largest city and the conditions suck for lots of innocent people right now. Hard to be optimistic when your in-laws have air conditioning two hours a day, unless the generator is working or not stolen.

  36. - truth squad - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 1:53 pm:

    The VAST majority of Iraq is peaceful and secure, with a standard of living FAR better than when Saddam ruled.

    That’s some powerful kool-aid you drink.

    My cousin’s boyfriend spent 6 years as an enlisted man in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he positively RAILED against the senior officers and civilian leadership. I wish I had time to relay all of his stories, but a completely f-ed up body armor situation and a near-invasion of Syria were among the highlights. Absolutely jawdropping stuff.

    Does this canard about parts of the country being peaceful really justify 2,500 dead American soldiers and tens of thousands of dead Iraqis? Their quality of life sure went to hell.

    Please keep up your slavish devotion to the mountains of bulls**t pouring out of the Administration…you’re driving independents and moderate Republicans, who believe their lying eyes rather than ideologues like you, straight into the Democratic column. Kudos!

  37. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:04 pm:

    Rich, I’m not trying to be difficult or disrespectful. I completely agree that the Administration is being too optimistic about the conditions there, and I certainly hope that my remarks weren’t taken as dismissive of the real problems there. Again, perhaps the phrasing “to whatever extent” made that unclear. I was simply trying to say that the President’s political opposition is being equally - and I believe just as unhelpfully - dismissive of the real progress being made in the rest of the country.

  38. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:13 pm:

    Got any evidence of that progress?
    It is difficult for reporters, since when they venture out of the Green Zone, they tend to get shot at. I suspect that if the country really was safe, we would have Brit Hume reporting live. Why don’t we see that? Can it be because, despite your bald conclusion of progress, there is nowhere in Iraq where an American can go safely?

    It looks like Senator Durbin was right on this one too.

    And it looks like GOP needs to be educated.

  39. - SalukiDog - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:44 pm:

    What little credibility Time had is gone in my book. To list someone as one of the 10 Best who openly compared our troops to the likes of Pol Pot and Nazis is absurd.

  40. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:46 pm:

    “I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood–unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

    Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.”

    - Senator Joe Lieberman, November 29, 2005 in the Wall Street Journal.

    skeeter, how many trips has Senator Durbin taken to Iraq? Do you think Senator Lieberman is lying or misleading the American people? Does he need to be better “educated” about the subject?

    I stand by my assertion. The Sunni Triangle is still very dangerous and the hardships of those who live there should not be disimissed or diminished. But neither should the real progess happening in the rest of the country. I have the account of a United States Senator from the Democratic Party who has been there 4 times and seen this with his own eyes. What do you have?

    Please, educate me.

  41. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:48 pm:

    Rich, sorry again for the side debate……I didn’t think of this until after I posted, but I will start a thread about Durbin, Lieberman, and Iraq on my blog. skeeter, feel free to head over there and we can let everyone else get back to the main topic. My apologies for taking up so much space an this tangent.

  42. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 2:59 pm:

    And it’s a little disengenuous to try to give anyone a pat on the back for the stability in the Kurdish north. The Kurds have been managing their own affairs since we instituted the no fly zone which did protect them from Saddam.

    Referring to the vast majority of Iraq without Baghdad is like referring to the vast majority of IL without including the Chicago metro area. Yes, you may be talking about real estate, but when referring to stability, it’s the people that matter.

    As to what Durbin said, I refuse to take seriously anyone who cannot diagram a sentence. He said, If I did not know… this is an if clause meaning that the remaining part of the sentence is conditional. This is different than calling our troops Nazis. What he was objecting to was not the troops, but the torture. Who here would support torture?

  43. - Making The Wheels Turn - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 5:57 pm:

    Ok, forgetting the whole Iraq issue, because it’s not going to be resolved here, and nobody’s minds are going to be changed here.

    Back on topic, to Senator Durbin:

    When the state’s other Senator was Carol Mosley-Braun, Durbin looked good. If you were a business or special interest group (other than Nigeria), you went to Senator Durbin for assistance. Wasn’t great or even very good, but consider the alternative.

    When Pete Fitzgerald swept into office, then the story changed. Ex-Senator Fitzgerald wasn’t easy to deal with, but was considerably better than Durbin. But the State of IL at least started to get back into the game.

    Now, we’re back to Senator Durbin and His Highness, Prince Obama the First.

    From a business standpoint and overall representing Illinois interests, thank God for having Denny Hastert as Speaker of the House.

    Just look back to the days when Arthur Andersen was getting beat down and both Denny Hastert and Richie Daley tried to stand up for them (turned out they were eventually right, but too bad for all the workers).

    They really needed Senator Durbin to stand up with them at that exact moment to try and save all those jobs and turn the tide, but guess what, he was nowhere to be found. Too busy fanning the partisan flames.

    He sent a message loud & clear that playing partisan politics were more important than saving IL jobs.

    Course, you had to be there to really know the story.

    Including Durbin on that list makes the story out to be a total joke.

  44. - T.J. - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 7:03 pm:

    TIME is relevant only when Ann Coulter is on the cover. It also costs too much.

  45. - stoney - Thursday, Apr 20, 06 @ 8:47 pm:

    Vanilla Man - you’re right about Durbin’s inability to make decisions. Sometimes he makes one, then apparently uses his own vast debating skills to change his own mind.

    His penchant for flip-flopping so frequently caused the late Steve Neal of the Chicago Sun-Tims to give him the nickname of “Senator Flipper.” I’m sure the ranking by Time is causing Steve to do some flipping of his own right about now.

  46. - bbishere2 - Friday, Apr 21, 06 @ 12:27 pm:

    I’m so glad that the left-wingers out there are so concerned that Durbin’s comments about the Nazis weren’t taken out of context and that they’re out there protecting the “civil rights” of those poor prisoners. The same prisoners that you would protect would kill you and your family without so much as a blink of an eye because unless you too are a muslim, you are an infidel. Infidels are given 2 choices, convert to islam or die. These are the people you and Dick Durbin defend the “honor” of. You want to talk about torture - where was your outcry when terrorists were holding the newly severed head of one of their hostages? Where was the outcry from the supposedly peaceful muslim world, condemning this act as something done in the name of allah?

  47. - Skeeter - Friday, Apr 21, 06 @ 12:42 pm:

    Actually, BBI, we don’t know if that is true or not. You see, they have been put in cells without charges or access to attorneys. None of us have a clue whether the people there are innocent or guilty, and as Sen. Durbin pointed out, our own Army intelligence guidelines show that torture is a pretty ineffective way of finding that out.

    The rest of your post is just ignorant blather, and as such, there is no need to respond. Bring up your views of Muslims at the next Klan meeting. Don’t waste our time with your mindless rants.

  48. - anon - Saturday, Apr 22, 06 @ 4:56 am:

    Doesn’t surprise me with “TIME” ’s liberal tendancies. The picture say’s it all liberal vs: conservative with Lincoln’s picture in the back-ground & Durbin so stoic & governmental looking. Those that can’t stand the GOP or conservative values sure like to hang with the Lincoln image when describing themselves & being or representing Illinois.

  49. - Azzurra - Saturday, Nov 4, 06 @ 2:42 pm:

    Buon luogo, congratulazioni, il mio amico!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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