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Repbulican Hypocrisy and a Democrat with a Spine!

Reported by Nancy - June 18, 2005 -

Yesterday (6/17) on Dayside, Linda Vester discussed the topic of Senator Dick Durbin and the comments he has made recently concerning the state of affairs in Guantanamo Bay. Durbin's comments can be read here.

For the discussion, Vester hosted Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). Diaz-Balart began the discussion: "It really is incredible to hear that the second most influential Democratic leader in the US Senate actually is now in cahoots with the most anti-American bashing people in the world. For him to compare our troops, our valuable, honorable, decent men and women in uniform to Nazis, to the Soviet Gulags, to Pol Pot, is totally unacceptable. And what's even worse than his statement is later when he tried to excuse himself saying 'No, no, no, that was not an insult to our men and women in uniform'. Excuse me Senator, comparing our troops to Nazis, to Pol Pot, if that's not an insult, then I don't want to hear your insult Mr Senator. Because again, not even our worst enemies, not even the terrorists in this world have been as aggressive, as nasty, as Anti-American as the statements that this leader of the Democratic party has put on the record for all to see and for all our enemies to repeat."

Comments: Diaz-Balart is issuing a tirade against Durbin, yet he is doing the exact same thing that he claims Durbin did. He states: "not even our worst enemies, not even the terrorists in this world have been as aggressive, as nasty, as Anti-American as the statements that this leader of the Democratic party has put on the record for all to see and for all our enemies to repeat." So, according to Diaz-Balart, murdering over 3,000 people on September 11th, does not even remotely compare to the statements (which have been taken completely out of context) that Durbin made. This is blatant, outright hypocrisy on the part of the Congressman, and while he actually has made a horrible slur against Durbin, the audience responded with great cheering.

Vester turned the conversation at this point to Lee, "Congresswoman, there seems there is no hard evidence to support what Senator Durbin is saying, he's even talking about an if, he's talking about a theoretical. With that being so, why shouldn't he retract his comments?"

Lee responded: "Well, I agree with Senator Mel Martinez, I believe there should be a commission to really assess whether we need to continue with Guantanamo Bay and frankly, I call for the closing of Guantanamo Bay. That's why I love America, that's why I love America. Because , that's why I love America. Because we are allowed to have a different point of view. And that means we believe in democracy. I come from Texas, we love the military, we send probably the largest percentage of individuals to Iraq and Afghanistan than any other state. And so I appreciate the fact, that we the members of Congress have the right to make a number of different comments, as Senator Durbin has said. But I do believe is that we need to access the status of Guantanamo Bay, and I believe that our soldiers…"

Comment: Throughout Lee's statements, Vester continually attempted to interrupt her, stating that she had gone off topic. Vester simply refused to let Lee speak, she turned to the audience and made faces, the audience laughed at Lee, and through the laughter and the boos, no one could hear the eloquent statements made by Lee. Lee, however, would not let this stop her and continued to speak very calmly and rationally over Vester in order to get her point across.

Vester finally rudely interrupted Lee and the conversation continued:

LV: "So, you do not agree with what he said?"

SJL: "I believe our soldiers are not classified as what has been defined, I would not define them as that. It's the policymakers that make policies, soldiers follow orders, and it is therefore my view that I would NEVER condemn our soldiers and I would also say that..."

LV: "If you would allow me to get back to Congressman Diaz-"

SJL: "You can, but I would also like to not be interrupted. Thank you."

Comment: It was almost cathartic to see an actual Democrat stand up to Vester and Fox News and not allow them to spin anything she said, and not allow them to play their game of interrupting Democrats so that they are unable to get their points across!

Vester then asked Diaz-Balart: "You know, it is, we've said just a second ago that there is no hard evidence to support what he's actually saying and I don't think that there is anyone out there that would say there is hard evidence that could actually compare even any mistreatment that existed at Guantanamo Bay to what the Nazi's did, so why would he say something that is so demonstrably false?" Diaz-Balart agreed saying, ""In the first place, you are absolutely right, there is no hard-evidence. The hard evidence is the following: that we spend more money on feeding these prisoners that have been captured in war than we spend to feed our own heroes in uniform over there in the Guantanamo base. If that's cruel, then, you know, some people may think so but it's not. We treat them with incredible respect, that's not the case of what a lot of those members or those terrorists groups have done to Americans and others, by the way, people that have been in their custody who have been beheaded are not given the opportunity to eat, are not given the opportunity to have a bible, they are given no respect, but we treat them with respect. The problem with Senator Durbin…"

Comments:  First, both Vester and Diaz-Balart claim there is no hard evidence that anything has gone wrong at Guantanamo Bay, when President Bush used the same source for the war on Iraq, that is being used to support the findings of abuse. Amnesty International is the group that is reporting the instances of abuse, and Amnesty International's report on Sadaam Hussein's human rights violations was part of what led us into the war in Iraq in the first place. Apparently Vester and the Republicans cherry-pick the information they want from groups, as long as it supports their overall agenda. Second, Diaz-Balart continues to use the RNC Party Line involving the quality of food the detainees are given. This is a tactic that is being used in order to divert the attention from the torture issues from the American public, and it is being repeated verbatim on Fox News. If Balart is so concerned about what the soldiers are eating in comparison to the detainees, maybe he should take the issue up with his President, who has not only done nothing to ensure that the troops are fed better, he has also completely disregarded the soldiers that have been wounded in Iraq by actually charging them for the food they eat while recuperating in VA hospitals. It is a far worse situation and far more disgusting, to charge our troops that have given their all to the war effort and have come home wounded for the food they are eating while they are recuperating. That is the real issue at hand that needs to be addressed, rather than arguing that we can't be torturing the detainees, we feed them so well!

The conversation concluded:

LV: "Alright, wait, wait wait, I hate to do this, and I'm not doing it to be rude, I don't want to interrupt either one of you, but I do want to be fair to both of you. So Congresswoman Lee, just a question, there have been those suggesting that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi should publicly reject what Senator Durbin is saying, what do you think?"

SJL: "Let me share with you that I am as appalled and concerned about any words that would label our soldiers, I think Leader Pelosi has to make her own independent decision, I would not have utilized those words, I think it is appropriate however to note that there have been discoveries of ill-treatment of prisoners, misuse of prisoners and the fact of whether or not this particular Guantanamo Bay really puts our soldiers in danger. The military believes in the Geneva Convention, this Guantanamo Bay does not adhere to that, we have individuals that are not charged ..."

LV: "Excuse me, we accord them basic rights according to the Geneva Convention, even though they are not prisoners of war status, we are. Yes, we are treating them in accord to the Geneva Convention."

SJL: "Well, no, let me say this. We have individuals that are not charged, we have individuals labeled enemy combatants and that is not in compliance with the Geneva convention. We've held people for three years. That's not the American values and American standards. I don't look to the Nazis or anyone else to follow in their footsteps, I don't look to the fact that we're giving them good food as an example, I think we should follow the values of America we have always had a high moral standard. I love this country and I think we can do better than Guantanamo."

Comment: During Lee's final statements, Fox began to loudly play music over her, and she had to virtually shout to get her last words across. The segment then ended and went to commercial with no further dicussion. Lee truly stood up for herself throughout the interview, and whether or not viewers of Fox believed what she had to say, she was able to get the truth across despite the obstacles Fox attempted to put in her way. It's interesting to note that Dayside over the course of the last week has been attempting to put a good spin on Guantanamo, and has allowed almost full shows to be dedicated to press conferences given on the topic by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Vester has even gone so far as to state that there is no hard evidence that anything has been done inappropriately within the prison. Could this sudden stance and bombardment have anything to do with the fact that Halliburton (VP Cheney's former company) has just been given a $30 million contract to build new quarters in Guantanamo? As Fox would say, you decide!

Reported by Janie