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Bush Warns Veto in Defense of Torture

Majority Leader Bill Frist postponed discussion of the $491 billion defense bill until September because he did not have enough votes to pass it. How come? Well, a few Republicans with integrity wanted to amend the bill to make sure torture would not be used by the American military. It’s unbelievable, but the senate was told that if the anti-torture provisions remained in it “the president’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” Do we have a police state here? Is the president willing to use the veto to assure the use of torture?

The four Republican senators of integrity are John Thune, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain. Here are 4 amendments I believe were introduced by John McCain:

  1. Set standards for interrogating military detainees and limit them to techniques outlined in a new Army field manual. It would not cover the Central Intelligence Agency

  2. Require that all detainees held by the military be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross. This measures seeks to prevent the holding of unregistered prisoners, or ghost detainees, in Iraq and Afghanistan and at other military sites

  3. Prohibit the practice of seizing people and sending them abroad for interrogation. This practice has become the subject of mounting international criticism, as some of the countries involved are known to use torture. It has caused a deepening rift between the United States and some of its strongest allies

  4. Bar cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in American custody. This would effectively prohibit not only physical abuse but also practices like placing women's undergarments on the heads of Muslim male prisoners in an effort to humiliate them
Read these amendments. Any decent citizen should be in favor of all of them. Because we are not living up to our responsibilities to detainees, America's reputation is being besmirched. Worse, these policies are putting our troops in danger if they are ever captured. Yet, the administration says:

"The Administration strongly opposes such amendments, which would interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war to answer unnecessary or duplicative inquiry or by restricting the President's ability to conduct the war effectively under existing law."

Bush claims to be devoting all his energies to fighting the "war on terror," now called the "global struggle against violent extremism." Regardles of what he calls it, how can he fight a "war" or a "struggle" by condoning torture? He also says he wants to spread freedom and democracy around the world. By being a cheerleader for torture?

I'm gratified that there are at least 4 Republicans fighting to rid our military of torturing prisoners. Maybe, in September, Bush may join them. Maybe, by then, he will drop the veto threat. Maybe - I hope so - the senate will then pass a bill firmly outlawing torture.

Maybe - miracles happen - Bush will threaten a veto if the defense bill does NOT include provisions against torture.

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 27, 2005 5:40 PM