Durbin Calls For Closure Of Guantanamo Bay In NDAA

Durbin also honored the life and legacy of the late Major Ian Fishback

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke about the importance of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and announced he had filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to close 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 America’s inhumane treatment of detainees after 9/11. Major Fishback passed away earlier this month at the age of 42 and was integral in rallying support for the torture amendment that Durbin led with the late Senator John McCain, which explicitly banned inhumane treatment of any prisoner being held by the U.S. government—on American soil, or abroad.

“Major Fishback’s courageous letter shed light on the atrocities that were being committed—shamefully—in the name of our nation. And he felt that he had ‘failed’ the service members under his command. The reality is: our leaders failed Major Fishback. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration tossed aside our Constitutional principles as well as the Geneva Conventions. By condoning torture, they dishonored our nation and actually endangered our service members,” Durbin said. “After reports emerged from horrific abuses at Abu Ghraib in 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, turned the tide in this effort.”

Durbin then discussed the importance of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

“Since the first group of detainees was brought to Guantanamo in January of 2002, four different Presidents have presided over the facility. In that time, the Iraq war has begun and ended. The war in Afghanistan, our nation’s longest war, has come to a close. A generation of conflict has come and gone. Yet the Guantanamo detention facility is still open, and every day it remains open is an affront to our system of justice and the rule of law. It is where due process goes to die. That is precisely why military officials, national security experts, and leaders on both sides of the aisle have demanded its closure for years,” Durbin said.

Durbin concluded his speech saying, “The families who lost loved ones on [9/11] deserve better. America deserves better. And American patriots like Major Fishback deserve better as well.  We all deserve better than these black holes that violate our national values and make true legal accountability impossible. As Major Fishback wrote to Senator McCain all those years ago, ‘If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never in our possession.’ It is time to live up to those ideals. Those ideals that our troops have risked their lives to defend. It is time at long last to face reality and honestly say: close the detention facility in Guantanamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.