PEORIA, Ill. – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (search) apologized to war veterans Saturday for his remarks earlier this month comparing interrogators at an American-run prison camp in Cuba to Nazis and other historically infamous regimes.
"I think when you've done something hurtful to people you have to stand up and say I'm sorry," Durbin said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Peoria, five days after he apologized for the comments on the Senate floor.
Durbin came under fire after he quoted from an FBI agent's report in the Senate on June 14 describing detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.
"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 that had no concern for human beings," the senator said.
The comment drew criticism from the White House, Republicans in Congress and others after creating a buzz on the Internet and among conservative talk radio hosts.
Initially, Durbin refused to apologize, but he relented as the firestorm over his remarks continued.
Durbin received a standing ovation from most of the crowd after his speech Saturday. Charlie Brimm, 55, said Durbin's comments upset veterans, but most think his apologies are sincere.
"It took a pretty big man to come up in front of a veterans group after the comments he made just a week or so before," said Brimm, a former state VFW commander and Army veteran of the Vietnam War.