I called Senator Dick Durbin’s office this morning at (202) 224-2152 and, after being on hold for a while, laid out the reasons why I think Durbin should resign from the Senate. His staffer told me that as of this morning, he is standing by his statement comparing American soldiers to the Nazis, the Communists and the Khmer Rouge. There was one caveat, however: the staffer told me that Durbin never actually said “American soldiers,” and that there are also contract interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. I asked whether Durbin was trying to claim that everything bad about Gitmo was the fault of civilians, and the army has nothing to do with it. She backtracked quickly and denied that this was Durbin’s theory–it would, of course, be an absurd claim since the military runs Guantanamo Bay and sets the policies there. Her evasion shows, though, how deeply dishonest Durbin’s position is.
We’d be interested to hear from others how their calls to Durbin’s office are received.
UPDATE: Based on the response we’re getting from our readers, Durbin’s various offices must be swamped with calls. Reaction from Durbin’s staffers seems to be all over the lot; some say almost nothing, some argue, some seem to be reading from a script. This email from a reader is more or less typical, although the “civilian contractor” dodge is by no means universal:
My husband, who is Jewish, lost family members in the Holocaust. We have a niece now serving in Iraq with the US Air Force and a nephew soon to be deployed to Iraq with the US Army.
I phoned Senator Durbin’s office today to tell him, in light of this background, how deeply offended I was by his comments equating Guantanamo with Nazi death camps and US troops with Nazi thugs. The staffer with whom I spoke claimed that the Senator wasn’t REALLY maligning US troops … the problems at Gitmo are all the fault of civilian contractors. Like you, I asked whether that means the Senator believes civilians – as opposed to the US military – are in charge of Guantanamo. Quick backtracking and dissembling for the remainder of the call.
The Senator has backed himself into a corner. But will there be consequences? Will he lose his leadership position or be censured? Not likely, IMHO.