Durbin's Staff Trying to Silence Critics, Group Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative advocacy group says it will not be intimidated by pressure from Sen. Dick Durbin's office.

Move America Forward, a group that supports the U.S. military and wants to eject the United Nations from the United States, is currently running broadcast ads criticizing Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, for comparing U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or mad regimes like Pol Pot's.

"But these aren't the faces of torturers, the ad says: "They're the heroic men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. They're our sons and daughters fighting for the cause of freedom around the world. Support our troops, at MoveAmericaForward.com."

Durbin's office is trying to silence Move America Forward, the group says, by hinting to an Illinois newspaper (the Northwest Herald of Crystal Lake) that the Internal Revenue Service should audit Move America Forward.

Someone from Durbin's office was quoted as telling the newspaper - in connection with Move America Forward -- "Have you ever seen that H&R Block commercial where the guy leans in and says, 'I see an audit'?"

"For the office of a United States senator to threaten reprisals from the IRS against an organization that is supporting our troops in harm's way is absolutely reprehensible," said Mark Washburn, executive director of Move America Forward.

"One of the grounds used to threaten impeachment of President Richard Nixon was that he politicized the IRS and tried to use IRS audits of his political enemies to shut them down or silence them. That is precisely what Senator Durbin's office is doing now, Washburn said.

"There is no place for that in American politics, and Senator Durbin must be held accountable."

Move America Forward also accused Durbin's office of pressuring Illinois television stations not to run the television ad criticizing Durbin's remarks about U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay.

According to Move America Forward, two television stations have buckled under the pressure, including the ABC and NBC affiliates in Chicago. Both stations are refusing to run Move America Forward's ad, it says, although CBS's Chicago affiliate is running it.

Move America Forward said it will not be intimidated. It said it will continue to air the ad on Illinois network affiliates and nationwide on cable news networks despite the pressure from Durbin.

Last month, Durbin -- reading from an FBI memo on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- commented: "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."

Three days later, Durbin clarified but did not apologize for his comments. But a week later, Durbin formally apologized -- to people who were offended by his remarks:

"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," Durbin said on June 21. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."

Becoming emotional, Durbin also apologized directly to the U.S. military. "They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said.

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