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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Senate Votes to Protect Military Detainees from Torture

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Author Topic: Senate Votes to Protect Military Detainees from Torture
David Ricardo
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In direct defiance of the White House, the Senate voted 90-9 to pass legislation that would protect military prisoners from abuse and torture. This goes to show that there is still hope for principles conservatives within the Republican Party (not much hope, but hope):

http://nytimes.com/2005/10/06/politics/06detain.html?hp&ex=1128657600&en=c214cd00a8dc2d91&ei=5094&partner=homepage

quote:
Defying the White House, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed Wednesday to regulate the detention, interrogation and treatment of prisoners held by the American military.

The measure ignited a fierce debate among many Senate Republicans and the White House, which threatened to veto a $440 billion military spending bill if the detention amendment was tacked on, saying it would bind the president’s hands in wartime. Nonetheless, the measure passed, 90 to 9, with 46 Republicans, including Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, joining 43 Democrats and one independent in favor.

More than two dozen retired senior military officers, including Colin L. Powell and John M. Shalikashvili, two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the amendment, which would ban use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in United States government custody.

It would also require all American troops to use only interrogation techniques authorized in a new Army field manual. It would not cover techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Of course, the hilarious thing of it all is that President Bush only threatens to use his veto pen when someone passes legislation restricting his executive privilege to torture prisoners. After more than 5 years of not vetoing mountains of pork barrel legislation, Bush waves the veto pen around madly only when principled Republican Senators want to protect military prisoners from torture.

Even more hilarious, Bush is threatening to veto a $440 billion military spending bill. Does that mean that the White House is anti-American and anti-American troops? Why would the White House dare to suggest vetoing vital military funding for our troops who are fighting bravely in Iraq and in the GWOT (aka GSAVE)?

[ October 06, 2005, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: David Ricardo ]

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Everard
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Hrm. Time to find out who voted against this measure, and boot them out of the senate...
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LoverOfJoy
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It all depends on what riders are on these bills.
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David Ricardo
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Everard, here are your 9 pro-torture Senators:

Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)

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drewmie
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I watched Sen. McCain addressing the Senate about this on CSPAN. Brilliant. I really wish this guy were President. But frankly, we don't deserve someone that good.

President Bush is in a no-win situation. If he vetos this bill, he will be called a hypocrite for slamming Sen. Kerry in so many campaign ads for doing the same thing, and he will have no defense against those who claim torture is approved of from the top.

Has Bush vetoed ANY spending bill yet? Is that a record?

[ October 06, 2005, 11:55 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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David Ricardo
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Bush:

quote:
I was for the $440 billion military funding bill before I vetoed against it.
drewmie: Bush has never vetoed ANY spending bills. and he has indeed achieved the most infamous record of not using a veto pen in the history of the United States (He is the only U.S. President who has served at least one full term in the White House who has never used his veto pen even once)..

that's why he is being blatantly hypocritical here when he threatens to veto a military funding bill for supporting our troops abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Chalk this one up in the "Bush hates the troops" column.

[ October 06, 2005, 12:14 PM: Message edited by: David Ricardo ]

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Wayward Son
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Hey, Bush is NOT against the troops, and he is 100 percent, four-square, absolutely and totally against torture. There is no doubt about that!

Just don't make him define what "torture" is. [Big Grin]

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Dagonee
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Does anyone know what the remedy was for prisoners who claimed violations?
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Adjudicator
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I am glad to hear that a bit of sanity has leaked into the senate, despite themselves.

I hope that the 2006 elections will remove the Republican majority and put some moderate democrats in the congress so that gridlock can result as heaven intended and maybe we can achieve some fiscal sanity.

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Mormegil
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Does his veto even have any power when the vote was 90-9?
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Wayward Son
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That all depends on how many senators who voted for the measure expected it to be removed when the entire bill is coordinated with the House version and/or expected Bush to veto it. [Wink]
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WarrsawPact
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Not really, unless almost 30 Senators will tuck their tail under threat of a second-term president rescinding his support in their re-elections.
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flydye45
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Adjudicator: Sure, let's let the fiscal conservatives of William Byrd and Ted Kennedy control the purse strings. Their record is stellar! [Roll Eyes]

Dave, do you have any other logical phallusies?


I'm for this bill. I wish military choices were as cut and dried as these people sitting in chairs in America believe. Unlike some here, I can see the strong downsides of this bill on the military, and don't begrudge the "no" voters.

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drewmie
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quote:
flydye45 wrote: Sure, let's let the fiscal conservatives of William Byrd and Ted Kennedy control the purse strings. Their record is stellar!
That's not his point at all. The point is that GRIDLOCK tends to control purse strings better than the current situation. That doesn't mean Dems would do a great job. It only means Congress wouldn't be able to pass its current orgy of spending bills. It isn't the ideal, but it would be an improvement.
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Adjudicator
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drewmie understood what I was saying. Long live gridlock!
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Pete at Home
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I love what McCain said about the military needing/wanting clear and precise rules. OTOH I'm frightened and concerned about the open-ended term "degrading." If they'd stuck to dehumanizing and cruel, I'd have been happy. It seems to me a sick thing though to give protections to a terrorist that we don't give to the insane, to common criminals, or to children. I don't think it's breaking some holy right to get in a terrorist suspect's face and call him a fracking murderer during an interrogation, or to tell him he's going to hell if people die because of the plot he's in. That's not torture. But it certainly is "degrading." Think about it. It's stupid to pass a law so vague and strict at the same time that no one under these circumstances will respect it.

Dehumanizing and cruel cover all of the horrid abuses that we saw at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. Degrading only muddies the waters and restricts legitimate interrogation techniques.

[ October 06, 2005, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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drewmie
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But Pete, the Army Field Manual is a great reference precisely because it has such a good history of precedent. Think about it. It's just like the "vague" protections in the Constitution. Such protection is far more specific and universally understood in its historical practice and enforcement than ANY ultra-specific new rules we could set, and as such will be far more understandable.
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Pete at Home
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Some of those vague protections in the constitution have been interpreted (correctly IMO) to mean that it's UNCONSTITUTIONAL to vaguely define a CRIMINAL law, Drewmie. It violates due process, and it's frankly sick and wrong to create blurry boundaries to criminal laws so that honest people doing the best they know, might become criminals unintentionally. Blurry meta-law is one thing. Blurry criminal law is another thing altogether.

Do you know that under federal law, that someone who operates under color of law can get the death penalty for torture? Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I think that sort of penalty requires that people have a pretty good idea what is lawful and what is not lawful.

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drewmie
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You may be right. It may end up being too vague. But I think it has a pretty good history of working where it has been applied. Sometimes even a vague directive can make a much bigger difference by changing the culture. Whereas the question might have been "What can we do without getting into trouble with our courts other nations?"; the question might now be "How does the manual tell us we should best deal with this situation?" Obviously, there will be exceptions. But when the military has a common, universal standard, however vague, I think it will make a big difference.
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velcro
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I don't think the term is vague. I believe it was taken from the existing language that the armed forces already use. As Scott McClellan said

quote:
McCLELLAN: Well, there are already laws on the books, and so I think part of this, if you go back and look at the statement of administration policy that we put out, it would be unnecessary and duplicative.
So there is nothing new, just a formal statement by the U.S. Government, to reinforce the less visible military code.

Lover of Joy, this was a stand-alone amendment. There are no riders, just an up-or-down vote on the amendment.

I can see no justification for the threatened veto.

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Rallan
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So does anyone know why Bush has decided to pee his political capital against the wall by doing this? I mean in one fell sweep he's

- contradicting four fifths of his own senators
- vetoing an anti-torture bill
- vetoing a four hundred billion dollar military spending bill during a war
- laying a veto smackdown that will almost definitely be overturned, since we can assume a 90% majority in the senate will be matched by similar stats down in the house

I mean I know he doesn't have to worry about being re-elected, but damn, it's almost like he _wants_ to alienate voters and his own party while picking fights he can't win.

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velcro
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The only reason I can see is that he wants to eliminate anything that will reduce the power of the presidency.

It gets a little scary when you tie some things together. The Bush administration thinks that

-the President can declare anyone, citizen or otherwise, an enemy combatant, with only minimal judicial review.
-the President should not be restrained by Congress in practicing what may be construed as "torture" on terrorists.

Am I missing something here?

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0Megabyte
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Okay, while I've never really hated Bush, lately I've been seeing too much for me to be all that fond of his politics anymore.

We need a philosopher to become president. That'd be fun for a change...

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Pete at Home
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Drewmie, Velcro, both of you qualify on "where it has been used," and that's just the rub. It's too vague to be generally applied.

Of course Bush doesn't trust Congress to run a war, and of course Congress should stand up to him when it comes to this important area that the constitution designated to Congress, i.e. regulating CAPTURES ON LAND AND ON SEA. Trouble is that we have a history of Congress winking and letting the presidents do what they want in this area.

In short, it ain't the end of the world when the President has a power struggle with members of his own party when constitutional language conflicts with the way things have always been done. This is how the American system of government was supposed to run. Hopefully Congress won't back down, but hopefully this conflict with Bush will force them to define things better.

Bush is right to veto legislation that would broaden the definition of torture to something vague and undefinable. You would not know it from David Ricardo's little thread-starter (big surprise) but we already have torture defined under the laws that enacted the Convention Against Torture; it's can be up to a death penalty offense for a soldier to do something like stick a needle under someone's fingernail, or threaten the life of their child, to get information out of them.

You want a law where yelling at and guilt-tripping a terrorist might be considered "torture"?

My own point of view is we should not be giving a terrorist any rights that a criminal, a POW, an insane person, or a child does not enjoy under current law. A terrorist has some rights, but not any rights that we deny to any other group.

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TS Elliot
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Call me a bleeding heart liberal

Not gonna happen anytime soon. Yah can't deny him a sense of humour, right?
Also: So Pete, in your paradigm, people NOT "having a good idea what is lawful" is a conservative value? Me one confused foreigner.

quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Bush is right to veto legislation that would broaden the definition of torture to something vague and undefinable.

Ah, and the whole world, including those pesky Luxembourgers would agree with him, if that was
the case.

Unfortunately it's not.

Bush is against that legislation because he doesn't wanna be bothered by little things like human rights or human dignity. Because he wants a free reign, he wants to do what ever he wants, and he has just enough savvy to try to make it legal too. And he lacks the scruples to leave congres and senate out of it, so he wants to drag them into this too. We suspect that this is because he doesn't really regard terrorist suspects as equal fellow human beings, but we've told not to read his mind etc and all that crap. Doesn't take a mindreader, especially with his mind.

I'm totally willing to accept that bush is against torture of human beings, just don't ask him who he considers a human being .....

[ October 15, 2005, 06:44 AM: Message edited by: TS Elliot ]

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velcro
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If the president is worried about hands being tied during wartime, I have the same comment I always had.

If I have to torture someone to save lives, I will do it. As soon as the lives are saved (or the urgency is over) I will turn myself in as having performed torture. If the judge thinks I had no choice, I will get a slap on the wrist, a small price for me to pay for saving lives. If the judge thinks I could have easily foregone the torture with the same saving of lives and throws the book at me, then I guess I had bad judgement. You need to make people think really hard before torturing. It must be worth them risking their own freedom to get that information. So make the laws tough, but give lattitude in the punishment for when there really was no other choice.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TS Elliot:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Bush is right to veto legislation that would broaden the definition of torture to something vague and undefinable.

Ah, and the whole world, including those pesky Luxembourgers would agree with him, if that was
the case.

Unfortunately it's not.

Bush is against that legislation because ---

I never said WHY Bush is against the legislation. I don't know or care care what his motives are. I said it's the right thing to do. Whether he's doing it for the right reason is a question for God to judge and bored "little foreigners" to ruminate.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
If the president is worried about hands being tied during wartime, I have the same comment I always had.

If I have to torture someone to save lives, I will do it. As soon as the lives are saved (or the urgency is over) I will turn myself in as having performed torture. If the judge thinks I had no choice, I will get a slap on the wrist, a small price for me to pay for saving lives. If the judge thinks I could have easily foregone the torture with the same saving of lives and throws the book at me, then I guess I had bad judgement. You need to make people think really hard before torturing. It must be worth them risking their own freedom to get that information. So make the laws tough, but give lattitude in the punishment for when there really was no other choice.

You are not a government employee. While our troops are often idealistic citizens, most other Government employees are carefully bred and conditioned to cover their ass above all other prerogatives. That's where shows like "24" fail to connect with reality.

If you were really a government agent, and felt like you had to torture someone to save the country from blowing up, sure, you'd do it. And if you were right, and got the information, and saved the country, then yes, things might go as you just fantasized.

But what if you got the plot wrong, or tortured an innocent person, for nothing. Still going to turn yourself in? You realize that you can face the death penalty, and that you've got nothing to show to justify or excuse yourself except for your own mistake?

If you are a real government employee, you are going to cover your ass.

And what does that mean for the innocent's life?

Think about it.

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drewmie
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McCain's article in today's issue of Newsweek entitled Torture's Terrible Toll is brilliant. Does anybody know where this bill and amendment stand? Is it still being worked out between the House and Senate versions?

[ November 21, 2005, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Pete at Home
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Senate Amendment 1977 passed the senate last month, and has been submitted for a vote in the house. Unfortunately, during the hearings, Senator McCain interrupted and cut off those who had reservations about the bill, and overlooked at least one major constitutional flaw, and at least one extremely problematic Separation of Powers issue. I'm very interested in how this proceeds. I'll fill you in on my side if you're interested, and I'd likewise be interested in anything that you hear.

Flaw: "Captures on land" = war loot. Not prisoners of war.

Problematic SoP issue: Congress directly regulating an executive agency. The constitution gives Congress power to regulate the military, but not to regulate agencies. This is why the VP is squawking about the CIA. It's one thing for the Prez to agree to keep the CIA from using inhumane treatment. It's another to give Congress power to directly regulate executive agencies.

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Omega M.
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What does this new law add to existing laws against torture? I've heard some opposition to it claiming that all it would do is give captured prisoners some new ways to bog down the court system.

I guess this law can't hurt. Let's just hope that if the apocryphal case of torture that really will save millions of people from death comes to pass, the interrogators will be heroic enough to ignore it.

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Pete at Home
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I've already answered your statement about the "heroic" government employee. In real life there is no Jack Bauer:

If you were really a government agent, and felt like you had to torture someone to save the country from blowing up, sure, you'd do it. And if you were right, and got the information, and saved the country, then yes, things might go as you just fantasized.

But what if you got the plot wrong, or tortured an innocent person, for nothing. Still going to turn yourself in? You realize that you can face the death penalty, and that you've got nothing to show to justify or excuse yourself except for your own mistake?

If you are a real government employee, you are going to cover your ass.

And what does that mean for the innocent's life?

Think about it.


quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
If the president is worried about hands being tied during wartime, I have the same comment I always had.

If I have to torture someone to save lives, I will do it. As soon as the lives are saved (or the urgency is over) I will turn myself in as having performed torture. If the judge thinks I had no choice, I will get a slap on the wrist, a small price for me to pay for saving lives. If the judge thinks I could have easily foregone the torture with the same saving of lives and throws the book at me, then I guess I had bad judgement. You need to make people think really hard before torturing. It must be worth them risking their own freedom to get that information. So make the laws tough, but give lattitude in the punishment for when there really was no other choice.

You are not a government employee. While our troops are often idealistic citizens, most other Government employees are carefully bred and conditioned to cover their ass above all other prerogatives. That's where shows like "24" fail to connect with reality.

If you were really a government agent, and felt like you had to torture someone to save the country from blowing up, sure, you'd do it. And if you were right, and got the information, and saved the country, then yes, things might go as you just fantasized.

But what if you got the plot wrong, or tortured an innocent person, for nothing. Still going to turn yourself in? You realize that you can face the death penalty, and that you've got nothing to show to justify or excuse yourself except for your own mistake?

If you are a real government employee, you are going to cover your ass.

And what does that mean for the innocent's life?

Think about it.


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