the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 22, 2005

Another Messenger Shot


The right-wing smear job (aided by the expected Democratic spinelessness) has had its predictable effect:

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism. […]

McCain said the lesson is “Watch your words.”

At least the Post’s description of Durbin’s speech bears some resemblance to reality, unlike the blatant lying in the Washington Times. The speech was actually very good, and it’s sad to see someone reduced to groveling for giving it. Now that we’ve made sure no one’s going to talk about that pesky torture problem, we can go back to pretending it doesn’t exist.

Durbin is just the latest in a line of critics — the Red Cross, Newsweek, Amnesty International — neutralized when the Republicans latch on to something they can characterize as a mistake in the criticism, which they can then use to dismiss any discussion of prisoner mistreatment. Expect to see the pattern repeated, and it happens on other issues as well (remember CBS News and the Texas Air National Guard story).


The Pentagon announced that a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded the contract to build a state-of-the-art $30 million prison for 220 terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.


  1. I just saw this in the NYT coverage:

    “Republican reactions were mixed, and it was unclear whether the furor would abate. Mr. Frist issued a statement calling the apology “a necessary and appropriate step in repairing the harm his earlier remarks have had on the image of millions of fine men and women serving in America’s military.”

    Suddenly, I got it. That’s why Iraq is going so badly. The problem is Dick Durbin and his ill-conceived historical analogies.

    —AltHippo • 10:01 am

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