Friday, July 22, 2005

Mel Martinez on Dick Durbin

Dear Ms. Munsch:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Senator Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) comments on the Guantanamo Bay detention center. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns. On June 14, 2005, Senator Durbin made regrettable comments on the Senate floor that equated the treatment of detainees by United States Armed Forces personnel at Guantanamo Bay to the treatment of prisoners by the “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others.” These statements greatly trouble me as there is absolutely no proportionality between the two.

I have visited the detainees in Guatanamo, and it is a far different situation than any portrayal or suggestion of systemic abuse or even the loss of life that would be associated with the Nazis, the Soviet gulags, and Pol Pot. Our military personnel who are looking after these detainees have demonstrated tremendous dedication and sacrifice. Senator Durbin’s comments are an insult to the overwhelming majority of men and women working to protect our country.

On June 21, 2005, Senator Durbin apologized for his remarks. I believe Senator Durbin’s apology was appropriate and sincere, and I hope we can now move forward on the important work facing our country.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mel Martinez
United States Senator