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Durbin also honored the life and legacy of the late Major Ian Fishback
WASHINGTON – In a speech to the Senate, US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke today of the importance of closing the Guantanamo detention center Bay and announced that he had tabled an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to shut down the facility once and for all. During his speech, Durbin also honored the life and legacy of U.S. Army Major Ian Fishback, who spoke out against the inhumane treatment of detainees by the United States after 9/11. Major Fishback died earlier this month at the age of 42 and was instrumental in rallying support for the Torture Amendment Durbin led with the late Sen. John McCain, which explicitly prohibited the inhumane treatment of any prisoner held by the US government – on US soil, or abroad.
“Major Fishback’s courageous letter shed light on the atrocities being committed – disgracefully – in the name of our nation. And he felt he had “failed” the service members under his command. The reality is this: Our leaders have failed Major Fishback. In the wake of September 11, the Bush administration set aside our constitutional principles and the Geneva Conventions. By tolerating torture, they dishonored our nation and endangered our soldiers ”, said Durbin. “After reports emerged of horrific abuses in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, I tried for a year and a half to pass legislation to make it clear that cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees was illegal. Two military heroes, my former colleague Senator John McCain and Major Fishback, have turned the tide in this effort.
Durbin then discussed the importance of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
“Since the first group of detainees was brought to Guantanamo in January 2002, four different presidents have presided over the establishment. During this time, the war in Iraq started and ended. The war in Afghanistan, our country’s longest war, has ended. A generation of conflicts has passed. Yet the Guantanamo detention center is still open, and every day that it remains open is an affront to our justice system and the rule of law. This is where due process will die. This is precisely why military officials, national security experts and leaders on both sides of the aisle have been demanding its closure for years, ” said Durbin.
Durbin concluded his speech by saying: “Families who have lost loved ones [9/11] deserves better. America deserves better. And American patriots like Major Fishback deserve better, too. We all deserve better than these black holes that violate our national values and make real legal accountability impossible. As Major Fishback wrote to Senator McCain all those years ago, “If we let go of our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals have never been in our possession.” It’s time to live up to these ideals. These ideals that our troops risked their lives to defend. It is finally time to face reality and say honestly: shut down the Guantanamo detention center. Let us leave this dark chapter behind us once and for all.
Video of Durbin’s speech is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s speech is available here.
Images of Durbin’s ground speech are available here for TV channels.
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