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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
The American People Must Set the Standard
Platt Liebau] 6/20/05
never easy. By definition, they bring with them separation,
heartache and loss. And they are never
conducted perfectly – as
American history from the Revolutionary War forward teaches us.
There have certainly been mistakes in the War on Terror. Among
them: Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan;
some young and untrained military personnel took inexcusable
liberties with prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison; and there have
been five documented instances of abuse or irreverent treatment
of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. Quite appropriately, the United
States has expressed regret for all of them.
But in the end, the success or failure of the
fighting doesn’t depend on the number (or, for the most
part, even the gravity) of America’s mistakes. It turns
on the reaction of the American people to them – and their
resolve to see that the mission isn’t sidetracked, impeded
or destroyed by those who are either indifferent or outright
hostile to it.
Sadly, hostility to the War on Terror isn’t the exclusive
province of our enemies on the battlefield. Even within the United
States, there are those who, for political gain or other reasons,
welcome bad news and seek to amplify any setback. Two weeks ago,
it was widely reported that executive director of Amnesty International
USA had supported the characterization of Guantamo Bay as “the
gulag of our time” – a comparison as insulting as
it is historically ignorant.
But even worse, just last week, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois
took to the Senate floor in high dudgeon, upset after reading
about the alleged mistreatment of Al Qaeda suspects. He made
the following statement:
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. Sadly,
that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the
treatment of their prisoners.
What was the “torture” that prompted Durbin to equate
Americans with Nazis, Soviet Communists, or Pol Pot’s sadistic
minions? Apparently, an Al Qaeda had been chained to the floor,
kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to
hear loud rap music.
By even mentioning Americans in the same breath
as the evil regimes that practiced the most inhuman forms of
torture on their
own people, Dick Durbin has perpetrated the most outrageous and
vile slander on the brave men and women who, not incidentally,
are risking their lives to protect his right to speak out in
ignorance and malice. He has also handed a priceless propaganda
tool to America’s enemies, and may have put American lives
at risk through his unconscionable statement.
One need not be a proponent of the war in Iraq
or even the War on Terror to believe that Senator Durbin’s remarks are
so wrong, so unfair and so damaging that he cannot be allowed
to remain in office. It is time for all of us to call for him
to resign or to face censure by the U.S. Senate – and continue
doing it until we see results. Whatever it is, the official and
public repudiation of Durbin’s slander must be significant
enough that it demonstrates to the world that America rejects
his characterization of our military.
So will Senator Durbin be held to account? That
part is up to you and me. There will those in Washington, on
both sides of
the political aisle, who would be glad to let this entire episode
pass as unobtrusively as possible. But for anyone who takes our
responsibilities in the War on Terror, the honor of our military
men and women – and history itself – seriously, such
cowardice is unacceptable.
We must speak up, and continue to do so until
we are heard. That’s because we, the American people, are the ones who
set the standard of what will be tolerated as acceptable political
discourse and what is simply beyond the pale. We – not
the politicians, not the media – are the ones who must
finally draw the line.
It’s an important job. The identity of
America, the cause of freedom, and the lives and honor of American
on it. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and
theOneRepublic / CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com