© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Durbin won't apologize for Guantanamo comments

Sen. Dick Durbin (UPI file photo / Bill Greenblatt)
Sen. Dick Durbin (UPI file photo / Bill Greenblatt)


Washington, DC – Illinois' senior U.S. Senator has no plans to apologize for comments that compared American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis and Soviet gulags.

The head of the state's Republican Party was among those to call for apology on Wednesday.

But Durbin says it's the Bush White House that should apologize for abandoning the Geneva Conventions.

Human-rights activist groups and some lawmakers - mostly Democrats- want Bush to close the prison.

But administration officials say some of the people who have been detained at Guantanamo later return to fight against the United States.

Durbin's comments came on the Senate floor on Tuesday. He quoted from an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.

"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," Durbin said.

Durbin's comments created a buzz on the Internet Wednesday, fueled by sound bites of his speech on radio talk shows. By Wednesday afternoon, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna asked Durbin to apologize, saying "Senator Durbin's comments come as a great disservice to our military personnel in Guantanamo."

But Durbin, in a statement, retorted: "This administration should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure."