- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

Durbin’s dubious apology

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, finally offered an apology — sort of — for his unconscionable comparison of the treatment of enemy combatants at Guantanamo with Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulag and the “Killing Fields” of Pol Pot (“Durbin finally says he’s sorry,” Page 1, Wednesday). Well, speaking for myself, I don’t accept his “sorry.”

First, he apologized for his choice of words. That’s not the point. It wasn’t his words that were ill-chosen; it was his idea that was brainless, insulting and (at least in the original definition of the term) treasonous. It was hate speech against his fellow Americans. It gave aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war, and no wimpish apology can correct that.

Second, thanks to today’s technological marvels, the original statement is out there in cyberspace forever, to be picked up and repeated ad infinitum by every anti-American terrorist and media outlet on the planet. The very existence of the Internet and the permanent damage ill-chosen words can do demand that public officials choose their words carefully. The deputy leader of the Senate Democrats failed miserably on that score.

Back in the 1950s, when senators had spines, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was censured by his colleagues, essentially for calling people Communists (never mind that we now know quite a few of them were Communists). At the very least, Mr. Durbin’s colleagues should have censured him (and his fellow Democrats should have removed him from his leadership position) for his far more injurious comments. Sadly, today’s senators lack the moral courage to take a stand against even the most offensive hate speech.



Here we go again. Another lame attempt at contrition by a lawyer and senior member of the Senate.

Sen. Richard Durbin’s “apology” falls well short of atonement for his irresponsible words last week on the Senate floor. He used the classic weasel language that marks lawyers: “if,” “some may believe,” etc.

If he were truly contrite, the apology would have been: “I deeply regret my remarks last week that offended many Americans, most importantly the men and women of the armed forces who are in harm’s way and protecting the values of democracy we hold so dear. My comments were offensive and indirectly placed our armed forces at risk. For that, I apologize to the American people and my colleagues in the Senate.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Durbin missed the mark. I don’t think the public is naive enough to believe he issued an appropriate apology. He simply skirted his responsibility.


Frederick, Md.

The need to recommission battleships

The Washington Times recently published two excellent Op-Ed columns calling for the rejuvenation and recommissioning of at least two of the Iowa class battleships (“Distortions about ships,” James F. O’Bryon, June 17, and “Battling for battleships,” Dennis Reilly, Tuesday). These gentlemen have provided some of the most logical and cogent reasons for placing these ships into fighting trim and getting them deployed.

Everyone who is concerned with the international war against terrorism, terrorist states and chest-thumping militaristic regimes should read these columns carefully and come to a full understanding of the capabilities of fully combat-ready ships such as the USS Iowa, BB-61 and her sisters.

Their capabilities so far exceed the DD(X) that in a full-scale war game, let alone a real combat situation, the Iowas would blow the DD(X)s out of the water.



Fathers and their responsibilities

Drew Taggart’s letter headlined “Let dads be dads” (Tuesday) is laughable. He says men have no reproductive rights, but I beg to differ. Women as well as men have the right to choose whether to have a sexual relationship, excluding situations involving rape.

Mr. Taggart must know there is no birth control method on the planet that is 100 percent failsafe. When a man chooses to be intimate with a woman, he runs the risk that she can become pregnant.

Mr. Taggart also says that “40 percent of the time,” men end up in “financial ruin, borderline destitution, possible incarceration and separation from his children” when they ” ‘commit’ to a woman and have children.” (I presume he means marriage.) If he is this fearful about commitment and bitter about the plight of fathers in America, he should consider a vasectomy or sexual abstinence as alternative strategies.

Last, he suggests that many men are financially saddled with children they have not fathered. Perhaps he has not heard about DNA testing for paternity. Though he laments that the “child-support goon squad,” as he so quaintly puts it, is successful in making fathers live up to their financial responsibility to the children they have fathered and then abandoned, he should take comfort in the fact that the absent father will not have to spend years as a single parent raising a child or children. That is the responsibility of the mom who is left behind.

Thank God for dedicated mothers and fathers who love and cherish their children and take responsibility for the ones they have created.


Fairfax Station

Sentencing guidelines need reform

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ recent remarks calling for Congress to introduce minimum sentencing guidelines is a classic case of a solution seeking a problem (“Gonzales urges Hill to set new sentencing guidelines,” Nation, Wednesday).

Mr. Gonzales erroneously claims that in the wake of the SupremeCourtdecisionin United States v. Booker, which declared the federal sentencing guidelines voluntary, there has been a “drift toward lesser sentences.” The attorney general needs to look no further than recent reports by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to discover that these claims are factually overstated. The most recent available data indicate that since the Booker decision, in January, 63 percent of federal sentences have been within the guideline range, almost an identical rate to the 2002 figure (the most recent available) of 65 percent.

Similarly, of the downward departures post-Booker, nearly two-thirds were attributable not to judicialdiscretionbutto government-initiated departures because of substantial assistance from the defendant, as was true in 2002.

The statistics belie Mr. Gonzales’ ill-timed call for legislative action. Despite assertions that the sky is falling, the federal judicial system has continued to function in the post-Booker world in much the same fashion as before the decision. It is far past time that judges are allotted the respect and discretion they deserve.


Research associate

The Sentencing Project


Israel’s selfish ways

Once again, Israel has sold military technology to China (“Pentagon cuts back on weapons to Israel” Nation, Tuesday) against the wishes of the United States. Then Israel apologizes and the United States forgives. The same thing happens when Israel is caught spying on us, as happened again recently. Israel apologizes, and we forgive. When the Israelis ignore the U.S. “road map” to peace by illegally building new settlements in the occupied territories, again nothing happens to them. We continue to give Israel $3 billion to $5 billion a year; our newest military technology; and our blind, uncritical political support.

It is past time for us to revise our one-sided alliance with Israel, starting by cutting off all taxpayer dollars to it. This is the only way to let the Israelis know that they need to change their selfish, disrespectful ways.



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