Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to apologize and withdraw his comments made on the Senate floor comparing U.S. soldiers' handling of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the actions taken years ago by "Nazis and Soviets in their gulags."
In a statement yesterday from Nashville, Frist said, "In captivity at Guantanamo are murderers . . . many dangerous murderers. They are in jail cells where they belong . . . and not on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . or on the streets of Nashville, Boston, Miami or New York.
"I'm extremely disappointed by Senator Durbin's comments comparing U.S. soldiers' handling of prisoners to the actions taken by Nazis and Soviets in their gulags. Not one prisoner has been murdered while in custody at Guantanamo."
On Friday, Durbin retreated from comments he made on the Senate floor Tuesday but stopped short of an apology. "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood," he said in a statement. "I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: Our soldiers around the world, and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support."
Frist insisted on an apology: "I call upon Senator Durbin to withdraw his comments and provide an appropriate apology." And he said other Democratic leaders should also seek an apology, adding, "Shameful does not begin to describe this heinous slander against our country . . . and the brave men and women risking their lives every day to defend it."