ZIEGLER: The fastest hour in radio continues on The Inquisition. RighTalk.com. And we are talking with Commander Paul Galanti, former U.S. Navy and Prisoner of War in North Vietnam, so someone who has personally experienced what it is like to be held in a true gulag.

Commander, welcome to the show.

GALANTI: Thanks. Good to be here, Scott.

ZIEGLER: You recently wrote a letter that has just received huge attention. It was published in the Washington Times today in its entirety. You said earlier you had gotten over a thousand e-mails?

GALANTI: Yeah, it's coming up on a thousand now. It's about 928 or something.

The thing - I had no idea this was going to happen. I just got mad when I heard Senator Durbin saying this stuff and fired it off to him, and I copied one of the military web sites that I'm on. Not a web site, but it's a list serve. And somebody on there must have forwarded it, because it started expanding, and pretty soon - it's on several West Point and Anapolis web sites, and it just keeps exploding. I heard my name on Rush today for the first time talking about the letter.

SWETT: That definitely qualifies as the big time.

Let's let our listeners know exactly what it was you had to say to Senator Durbin. Here's the letter in its entirety from Paul Galanti:

"Senator Durbin,

"As one who was held in a North Vietnamese Prison for nearly seven years and whose definition of torture and bad treatment is somewhat at variance with yours" - parenthetically, I admire that understatement - "I deplore your senseless comments about alleged 'barbaric treatment' at our terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo.

"Your remarks comparing Guantanamo to the regimes of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are outrageous. I tried to think why a rational human being could make such an outlandish statement, but I keep coming up short. I thought I'd seen it all when Howard Dean performed his infamous scream in Iowa, but your diatribe yesterday eclipsed Dean's moment of Hannibal Lecter lunacy and your moment of pique will be infinitely more damaging to members of our Armed Forces serving in harm's way.

"I noted, when searching for your contact information, that the first item Google came up with was al Jazeera's joy at your comments. You, sir, for having aided and abetted the enemy in time of war, have been relegated in my mind to the status of Jane Fonda and your colleague, John Kerry, as contemptible traitors.

"I hope not too many of our valiant members of the Armed Forces have to suffer for your stupid comments. Shame on you."

And then the note: "This is copied to to the Chicago Tribune's Letters Editor. It is blind copied to my family members from Illinois and to several military blog groups to which I subscribe."

Mr. Galanti, this is the letter that seems to be winging its way around the Internet even as we speak.

I think you made the core point that what the remarks of Senator Durbin have done, they've helped the enemy to recruit against our own military.

GALANTI: I got vibes all over again, Scott, from having heard how the North Vietnamese just went into a big, deep swoon when Ramsey Clark came over there. They said, "Oh, you're a very high member." Now, he was an appointed attorney general, as I recall.

SWETT: Right.

GALANTI: And they just swooned. "Oh, he's a high guy. He is against his own country and he's for us. What a wonderful thing."

Most countries, including these Middle Eastern terrorists, they think that if anybody that's got a U.S. title carries a lot of weight in the country. They don't realize a U.S. Senator can get thumped on in this country by a little guy like me just as easily as anybody else. So when they hear the number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate come up there and say, "Our government's atrocious and they're torturing our people" when that's not true, it does a great disservice and is probably - will probably become the best recruiting tool Al Qaeda's had since 9/11.

SWETT: Do you think it's possible that Senator Durbin doesn't understand that, that he somehow doesn't comprehend that he is playing at the hands of America's enemies, or do you think that that's less important to him than making a political point?

GALANTI: I'd really hate to think that he doesn't understand what those words mean. I think it's gotten to the point where - and I've supported Democrats. I'm not just a hardcore Republican, but that kind of remark is just - all it was was just a cheap shot bashing of the Administration that frankly has laid out the most humane incarceration program for anybody ever captured at war in the history of mankind. We're the only country that does that sort of thing, and for Durbin to come up and say we're treating them viciously, you know, that we're torturing them, beating them when we're not, that is just absolutely ridiculous.

SWETT: On the topic of what's actually happening at Guantanamo Bay, there's a letter that's been made public just today by a military chaplain at Gitmo, the Reverend Kent Svenson, who is a member of the United Methodist Church, not usually thought of as a conservative bastion, and he wrote today to the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries at the Methodist Church to say that he didn't see any evidence that anything untoward was going on at Guantanamo Bay and that he had served there for nearly a year, up until March of this year.

He noted that the detainees have direct access to the International Red Cross representatives, contrary to the accusations that they have no outside contact. They have their food prepared according to Islamic guidelines, call to prayers broadcast for them to go to prayer. There are strict guidelines in training concerning human rights protections, and if a service member sees a violation, they are to report it, and if asked to violate someone's human rights, they are to consider it as an unlawful order. Those who violate are subject to prosecution. This statement made by an eye witness at Guantanamo Bay, a military chaplain.

Is that in accordance with your understanding of how the military is to deal with prisoners?

GALANTI: Well, first of all, about military chaplains, one of the reasons that the mainline churches seem to be so wacky is that all the fairly conservative preachers go in the military. That's the only time when they're accepted.

I mean, I'm a Presbyterian. Our church voted against the war, for crying out loud, and about half the people in our - I mean, this is the Presbyterian Church USA, and half the people in my church are just outraged about it, but you know, it's 51 to 49 or something in the general assembly. That's how it came out. It was - there just - it's absolutely nuts.

Chaplains - you mean, we have chaplains in Guantanamo and there's a torture chamber? We didn't have any chaplains in Hanoi.

The food is prepared to Muslim standards. I mean, give me a break. We had pumpkin soup and rice, and pumpkin soup is pumpkin meat thrown into some water, and if you're lucky, a rat fell into the soup when it was cooking and you get a little protein. It was, you know, that is normal POW fare in most of the world.

They don't worry about it in - Al Qaeda doesn't - they don't take prisoners. They just when they capture somebody they just chop their heads off.

ZIEGLER: I think there's a bigger issue that this whole treatment of prisoners is a canard by the left, and one of the things that I believe is that that canard is that prisoners of war should be dealt with as if they are criminals.


ZIEGLER: These guys are not criminals. They raised arms against our country.


ZIEGLER: There's a different standard to deal with prisoners of war than the guy who robs the house down the street.

GALANTI: Exactly.

SWETT: Well, there are also multiple standards governing military prisoners.

ZIEGLER: Absolutely.

SWETT: Of course, the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these guys.


SWETT: They're not uniformed soldiers. They're not subject to the protections of the Geneva Convention. I don't think that point gets made often enough.

ZIEGLER: Commander, do you believe that the Democrat Party, or in this case Senator Durbin, and because no other Democrats have come out to denounce his statements and Howard Dean's statements last week, and this ongoing mantra of we will say or do whatever it takes to destroy the presidency because we're out of power - we have to return to power - is there going to be a backlash by the American public because of the Democrats' irresponsible statements?

GALANTI: I think so. I think you can see it all over. It hasn't been that long ago when everything was Democratic. Both houses of congress, the president, and now, I mean, virtually everything is contested and even the states Democrats win, they're not landslides by a longshot, and they're almost all achievable.

If Senator Durbin's diatribe is the best they have to offer, I think that that party had better start looking around for some new blood and a new philosophy or at least come up with some positive suggestions to do something instead of always bashing the President and this current Administration.

SWETT: Mr. Galanti, you've heard Brian Nicks' observations earlier, and he seemed to be indicating that on the contrary, the Democrats are moving towards a more radical and more doctrinaire leftist position because that's where the money is coming form, through outlets like Moveon.org, which have tremendous fund-raising capabilities. If that's the case, we can expect to see more of this and not less.

What can people such as yourself, who of course, experienced the - well, not only the anti-war movement, but you know, suffered from it directly as a prisoner. What can be done to prevent this from happening all over again?

GALANTI: Well, frankly, I think it's in a self-destructive mode. The guys like Durbin, you know, he finished college in '66 and went to law school and finished law school in '69 and immediately started working as a political operative. I don't see any uniformed service on his resume at all, and he just doesn't understand what it's all about.

Mainstream America, for every young man or woman who's wearing a uniform right now, there are five or six or seven family members who are extremely proud of that young person, or that they've served before. And you're talking about huge numbers here that Durbin just totally dissed with that remark, just blew them off because in the minds of those who haven't served, be it Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton or Durbin or any Republican that didn't serve, they look at the people in the military as being kind of stupid, not smart enough to get out of it, and it's just sort of a blue-collar job. I mean, they wear uniforms just like bus drivers do. And that is the mind set, and I think we've seen it in Virginia where I live. It's a fairly conservative state, and the military has a lot of power here. Just the numbers of veterans, they've got something like 800,000 out a population of six million. For each one of those veterans there are four or five other people. So it's very powerful, and they've got to be very careful and walk very lightly.

As a result of my letter I've gotten, you know, it's approaching a thousand e-mails. Only a handful of them are negative. The rest of them are all, you know, retired chief this, retired whatever. My husband was in the military. I remember during Vietnam and nobody was supporting our military and I wanted to cry but I couldn't do anything.

Well now, with the Internet and the alternative media, talk radio, they can do something about it.

SWETT: So you see the propaganda efforts of Durbin and those like him as essentially self defeating in today's environment, whereas 35 years ago they were much more effective.

GALANTI: Exactly. Yeah, I agree. And you - and look at the Sunbelt where all the older people are retiring to. There are a whole slew of very disgruntled - the boomers, who are not - they're not ones like Durbin or Bill Clinton or that ilk. They are really kind of dissatisfied with the way those people are going and they're getting out of the areas that these guys are trying to - or moving into the areas that these guys want to turn blue. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens.

ZIEGLER: This is The Inquisition, RighTalk.com with Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler, and we're interviewing Mr. Paul Galanti.

The web site, you can get a hold of Mr. Galanti's letter and other information is the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, VVLF.org.

We'll be back in three minutes.

[Commercial break]

ZIEGLER: This is The Inquisition with Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler.

Scott, you found an interesting comment from Vice President Cheney. Why don't you share that with the audience.

SWETT: The vice president said that he was appalled by Senator Durbin's remarks. He described them as, quote, "so far over the top that I'm just appalled that anybody who serves in the United States Senate would even think those thoughts."

That's perilously close to a call for the resignation of the Senator, and it's remarkable that the Vice President's observations have gotten very little publicity to date, possibly because the mainstream media is somewhat uncomfortable with the concepts expressed therein.

Mr. Galanti, in your letter, of course, you flatly stated that Durbin's remarks gave aid and comfort to America's enemy in war time and described them as treasonous. Do you think that it would be correct and appropriate for the senator to resign from the U.S. Senate?

GALANTI: That's up to him. I really don't care. He's not my senator. I promise you there's a whole slew of people in Illinois right now that have a different view of him than they did a few days ago, and for him to be so over the top on an issue like this that he obviously doesn't know much about - because that FBI report, I was doing research. There was a report about the FBI on Gitmo saying exactly the same thing he did last December. That was a Washington Post article, and I don't know where the senator's been for six months, but for him to suddenly bubble this thing up to the top right in the middle of this for a little personal self aggrandizement, I can't imagine his constituents back in Illinois think that's really neat.

SWETT: Well, I've seen at least one poll suggesting that more people support him in Illinois than don't. Of course, polls are subject to manipulation.

But regardless of the popularity of his remarks, I think the sheer falseness of the remarks needs to be commented on. You know, there is a difference between playing Celine Dione at that high volume as opposed to real torture.

GALANTI: Yeah, well I kind of like Christina Aguilera, who was the -

SWETT: I'm sorry. Aguilera.

GALANTI: She was the culprit that was driving these guys nuts. And if they don't like it real loud, that's the way it goes. No, I didn't hear anybody scream when we were doing that during the Clinton Administration. I think it was Clinton. During Noriega.

SWETT: That was -


GALANTI: That was Bush I. Well, it doesn't make any - I didn't hear anybody worrying about Noriega getting that. If that's what they use to get these guys' minds into a position where they're going to tell where Osama Bin Laden is or cough up information that's going to save one life, more power to them.

But the conditions in those camps, I mean, we don't have - some of our regular prisons in the United States brought - hardcore criminals are worse than these guys have, and they're all - if they're not certified murderers in deed, they're murderers in wanting to be murderers.

Anyway, I just - it drives me up the wall to hear a senator saying that these guys are in such bad condition when our troops down there - those Marines would like to wring these terrorists' necks, but they don't. They're disciplined. They walk around from wherever they have to go. They interrogate them. But no bruises on them. You won't find any of them - his little feelings might get hurt because they did cough up some information when they were sleep deprived or when they were having to listen to Christina Aguilera just to get the music turned off. But you know, that goes with the turf. They're not being treated inhumanely. They're being treated a lot better than they would treat any one of us if the situation were reversed.

ZIEGLER: Where are the Democratic and the mainstream media repudiations of the statement because it's difficult to compare orange glazed chicken for lunch in Gitmo for the prisoners compared to beheading in Fallujah prior to our freeing of that city.


ZIEGLER: I mean, there is no sense of perspective.

GALANTI: One of the things I've noticed is, starting with some of the episodes in the Clinton White House, is there just doesn't seem to be any shame.

You know, President Nixon, if he just lied, if he just said there is no gap in the tape, said, "I'm not releasing them," locked them up and just shut up, he would have been a free man, but he got shamed into resigning because he did something wrong.

When you're shameless, you can say and do almost anything and you check the political polls. If they haven't gotten too bad, you say them again. And sometimes even the more outrageous things you say, the people you're trying to impress are really impressed.

SWETT: That's an interesting idea, that a sense of conscience can act as a political liability.

One thing that Durbin's comments have done, and of course, we've kind of been pulled into it ourselves, is now we're all talking about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo by Americans. We're not focusing on the ongoing outrageous terrorist acts, the suicide bombings, and so forth, of the opposition.

That appears to be what Durbin and company want. And this, again, brings us back to the Vietnam era, where people like John Kerry and Jane Fonda focused exclusively on alleged American atrocities, ignoring the systemic widespread hundreds of thousands of atrocities perpetrated by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese.

ZIEGLER: Well, this is my concern with the entire argument, is that the Democrats have gotten to the point where they have totally forgotten the oath they swore: "I do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." These people are supporting our enemies.

SWETT: Well, if they took that seriously, they would have Durbin up on charges.

ZIEGLER: You would think.

GALANTI: Well, if you appear as the poster boy at Al Jazeera's page one of its international web site, its English language web site - you know, the bad guys must really like him because Al Jazeera's been a hundred percent against the United States. I believe it's an Arab quote, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

SWETT: Uh-huh.

GALANTI: Obviously, Durbin must be - if they consider him a friend, he must be the enemy of their enemy, which is the U.S. So they probably think - they probably couldn't believe that he was dumb enough to say something like that, and he has actually become the issue. They talked about Guantanamo. Senator Durbin's managed to make himself the issue, and very similar to what Trent Lott did when he made what he thought was a joking remark to the late senator from South Carolina.

SWETT: The difference between the aftermath of the Trent Lott fandango and this one was that Lott not merely apologized, but he basically crawled on his belly like a reptile apologizing all the way, whereas Durbin has done nothing to suggest that his remarks were inappropriate.

ZIEGLER: Senator Lott resigned from his leadership post.

SWETT: Under a huge amount of pressure.

ZIEGLER: Shouldn't it, at a minimum, be expected of Senator Durbin to resign his position as the minority whip?

GALANTI: You've just got to remember, if you're shameless it doesn't bother you a bit to do stuff like that.

SWETT: Well, it was Hunter s. Thompson who said never apologize, never explain. That appears to be the theory that has been adopted here.

Mr. Galanti, I wanted to go back to your thought and mention that John Kerry, in April of 1971, was the poster boy for the Communist Daily World the entire week of their Dewey Canyon III protest in D.C. They quoted him. They had, you know, adulatory editorials. They put his picture on page one because he was singing the song that they wanted sung. So again, I continue to see parallels between that time and this.

ZIEGLER: This is RighTalk, The Inquisition. Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler. We're heading into a break. We'll be back in just a couple of minutes and finish up the show, The fastest hour in radio reaches its end. We'll be back in three minutes.

[Commercial break]

ZIEGLER: This is The Inquisition. Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler.

Commander Galanti, you were going to make a comment right before the break. I'll let you go ahead and do that.

GALANTI: Yeah, we were talking about John Kerry being the poster boy for the Communist Party back in the '70s when he was doing his VVAW thing.

My wife at the time was chairman of the National League of Families of POWs and MIAs, and she went over to Paris during that time to attend a meeting of 800 communists to try and get the living conditions and stuff for the POWs improved.

On the way back she rode with Al Hubbard, who was the Executive Director of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and this is Kerry's group, and on the way back he told her he was a big Air Force fighter pilot and was dropping napalm on villages and stuff, which turns out not only to be a lie. He wasn't a pilot; he wasn't an officer. He had been a cargo handler on a C130, which is fine, but he lied about that.

The point that got me was he was just open about it that his expenses for this trip were paid for by the Communist Party USA.

Everybody's talking about the FBI report Gitmo. The FBI report back then was saying about all the communist influence in the middle of this anti-war movement and in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and nobody paid any attention to it. So it's sort of like the wagon's gone full circle and we're right back to where we were in the late - early '70s.

SWETT: It is interesting how history repeats itself. On the other hand, those FBI files of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War made interesting reading for a lot of people during last year's election.

Let's see.

ZIEGLER: Commander Galanti, your web site that you're associated with is Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, or VVLF.org.

GALANTI: That's correct.

ZIEGLER: And people can go to that site and find your letter and also find a totally different perspective on the Vietnam war than has been offered by the American media. VVLF.org.

Commander, it's been a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for your service and your continued service via your letters.

GALANTI: Thanks for your service. You're doing a great one.

ZIEGLER: Thank you. I'm sure you enjoyed being on Rush more than us today, but this is The Inquisition on RighTalk.com. Scott Swett, Tim Ziegler. We'll be back in two weeks.

[End of transcript]

Last Updated Monday, November 05 2007 @ 09:07 AM MST|4,978 Hits