Monday, June 20, 2005

Media Blackout as Cheney Blasts Durbin


Vice President Dick Cheney became the highest-ranking Bush administration official yet to castigate Sen. Dick Durbin on Friday for comparing U.S. troops to Nazis.

And Cheney's words were, by far, the harshest yet uttered against the top Democrat by any senior elected Republican.

But so far, at least, mainstream reporters have steadfastly ignored Cheney's remarks - perhaps because they know that the VP's reaction ratchets the story up to Defcon 3 level, and covering it would make it impossible for Democrats to continue their silence.

Q You mentioned securing our borders, and it's not just a matter of economics and protecting our borders from a cultural, economic standpoint anymore, national security is an issue, as well. And obviously, in this war on terrorism this week, we've had a lot of attention paid to what's going on in Guantanamo Bay with some of the terrorist thugs who have conspired against us. Dick Durbin, as you know, has made some comments comparing our U.S. soldiers to Nazis. Yesterday, Scott McClellan, the White House Spokesman, called his comments "reprehensible." How do you take Senator Durbin's comments? What's your response to his comments?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, this is, I'm sure, a family program, Steve. I have to be careful what I say. (Laughter.) I thought Durbin was totally out of line. I watched some of his comments on the floor of the United States Senate. For him to make those comparisons was one of the more egregious things I'd ever heard uttered on the floor of the United States Senate. But he -- the fact of the matter is the situation at Guantanamo is being very well handled by our military. Remember what's happened here. We've -- during the course of our operations in Afghanistan and then the global war on terror, we have picked up a number of people we call detainees. These are terrorists. These are bomb-makers. These are terrorist facilitators, members of al Qaeda, members of the Taliban from Afghanistan. We have them down at Guantanamo, where they're well treated. They're well housed. They're well fed. Their religious needs and desires are catered to. They're not being tortured or mistreated, but they are a major source of intelligence for us. Plus, we need to keep them off the streets.

Now, a couple hundred have already been released -- that is, been through a review process. And once it's determined that they don't constitute a threat to the United States or have no further intelligence value, then we've, in fact, returned them to their country of origin. In some cases, about 10 cases, some of them have then gone back into the battle against our guys. We've had two or three that I know of specifically by name that ended up back on the battlefield in Afghanistan where they were killed by U.S. or Afghan forces.

Now, the key here to remember is that the 520 we've got down there, these are -- hard-core terrorists is the only way to describe them. They're unlawful combatants. They're out to kill Americans. And if you put them back on the streets, that's exactly what they'll do. All the hand wringing that we've heard from Durbin and others strikes me as totally inappropriate. This is a wide open facility down there. There have been -- over a thousand reporters have visited it. The International Committee of the Red Cross can visit it 24 hours a day at their discretion. We've had 11 senators and some 77 House members have been down there to visit the facility. There are no secrets in terms of how it's being operated, and it is being operated in a decent and humane manner. But we absolutely need to have a facility like that to house some very violent and evil people.

Q So no plans to close it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, sir. The President wants us to make sure we do a continuous review of the cases down there, and that we're continually updating our policies and so forth. But if we didn't have a place like this, we'd have to create one.

Q We appreciate your time, Vice President Dick Cheney. And are you surprised by the way the Democrats are not condemning Durbin's comments?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think they're swallowing hard. (Laughter.) We'll see what happens. I watched yesterday. Of course, he had to get back on the floor yesterday to try to defend himself. But I just -- it was so far over the top that I'm just appalled that anybody who serves in the United States Senate would even think those thoughts.

Q Vice President Cheney. We appreciate the time with you, look forward to seeing you again, and appreciate your spending some time with us this morning.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, Steve. Say hello to everybody in Tennessee.

Hummmmmm Now why wouldn't the MSM want to report on these remarks?