First hand account


Because the Chicago Tribune has published its version of the process by which Senator Durbin's Nazi/Stalin/Pol Pot analogy entered the public debate, it might be of some interest to look back on the timeline of the story that most MSM newspapers tired to ignore. J. James Estrada tells how he came by our story on the subject.

The following is from a transcript (which I found at of a radio interview Senator Dick Durbin did with talk show host Spike O'Dell on WGN, 720 AM, on Friday, June 17th.  The question concerns the comments Durbin made on the Senate floor on the evening of June 14th,  accusing the  American military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (where they have contained terrorists captured on the battlefield) of running a facility compared to Nazi death camps, Soviet gulags and the killing fields of Cambodia's ruthless dictator, Pol Pot.

Q: Are you surprised at all this backlash?

Durbin: Yes, I am. Well, I shouldn't be. I have seen it happen before. What happens is this, for your listeners, so they understand now. The people on the other side, the president's supporters, have a pretty substantial network behind them. The first thing they do when they get angry and decide to focus on something, my statement obviously was their focus, they start their blogs, which I don't pay a lot of attention to but some people do. The next thing you know is it moves into this talk radio. I became a poster child for Rush Limbaugh. He put my number on his radio show. People called from all around the country. The Washington Times, a very conservative, Republican newspaper, puts a front page story about me on there. The White House lashes out to me, and pretty soon the mainstream media , it just follows. It has happened time and time again.

Dear readers, I am one of those people 'on the other side'.  Let me explain.  I was listening at 6:00 a.m., on the morning of June 14th,  to the Laura Ingraham radio show on 960, KKNT—AM, Phoenix.  Ingraham's producer Lee Habib had been watching C—SPAN the night before and heard and saw Durbin make his comments during an Executive Session of Congress.  He had the audio ready for Ingraham to air to her national audience and, so, this is when I heard Durbin make these comments:

On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ..... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

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.

I could not believe what I heard:  a sitting U.S. Senator making that kind of reckless comparison at a time of war?  Sitting at my computer, I did a search for the story on the net.  Surely, this was big news to be reported by The Washington Post or the The New York Times.  But there was nothing there.  What about conservative websites like The Drudge Report or Newsmax?  Again, nothing.  I did a general search on Google.  Nothing.

Okay, let me go to the Senate archives and get Durbin's statement myself.  You may be wondering, 'how does a guy sitting in a financial relations firm headquartered near the Scottsdale airpark, know how to search for a statement made on the Senate floor the night before?' I tell you how.  A few weeks ago I heard that another Senator, Charles Schumer, (D—NY), had made another outrageous remark from the Senate floor, this time about Judge Janice Rogers Brown (a judicial nominee being filibuster by the Democrats at the time).  I couldn't find anything concrete on his comment, only that he said something on the order that Judge Brown wants to take America back to the '1800's'.  Since Judge Brown is black, I was curious as to why should would want to go back to the shameful time of slavery.  After doing a little searching around, I discovered that has a section called 'Legislation & Records'; from there, you click on 'Congressional Record'; and then click on '109th Congress, (2005—2006).'   Bingo.  There, in date order, are all the statements made in session. 

I found Schumer's quote.  He said Judge Brown wanted to take America back to 'the philosophy of the 1890's' where if you had money and power you 'could do whatever you wanted.'  A silly comment, really.

And so, on the morning of June 14th, I was prepared to quickly get the info I needed.  Following the procedure I just described, and knowing that Durbin made these comments during a debate on the energy bill, again, thanks to Ingraham (who is coming to Phoenix on August 31st at a KKNT—sponsored event), I found the insidious comments.

I did a quick write—up for a website I began contributing to in April, The American Thinker.  I highlighted Durbin's words (without changing a thing) and provided a link to the Congressional Record.  Editor Thomas Lifson posted the 'blog' immediately, making it available to his readers and anyone with a computer and search engine.  That someone turned out to be Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh was 15 minutes from concluding his 3—hour radio program (KFYI—AM, 550, in Phoenix) and I was listening when a caller mentioned the Durbin comments he heard on Ingraham's show.  Limbaugh asked his staff to verify the comments since this was the first he was hearing of it.  Coming back from a commercial break, Limbaugh said this:

'From the American Thinker —— in fact it's one of our favorite websites; by the way it is a blog —— I guess this is Senator Dick Durbin's comments on the Senate floor.' 

He then read the comments I posted from the Congressional Record.  Rush did not read my comments (which were brief), but Durbin's own words.  As Rush likes to say, 'words mean things.'

J. James Estrada   6 23 05