[saymaListserv] Torture deal??
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Thu Sep 28 11:56:37 JEST 2006
The deal is in. The House of Representatives approved a compromise
torture bill yesterday by a vote of 253 to 168. There is good news in
this bill, and bad news.
Bad news first: the bill allows for evidence obtained by torture to be
used against its victims as long as it was obtained prior to jan 1,
2006. It denies detainees the right to habeas corpus, allowing the
practice of detaining persons without charges for an indefinite period
of time, and offering no recourse for their mistreatment even if they
are eventually released as innocent. Most importantly, it defines
criminal treatment of detainees so loosely as to allow for practices
such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and temperature extremes, as
long as the detainee does not suffer "serious" pain or "non-transitory
mental harm". Ironically, the judgment of what falls short of "serious"
would be left up to the Administration under this legislation, even in
the case where the treatment is clearly in violation of the Geneva
Is there good news? Yes, there is. Regarding the "seriousness" of the
pain inflicted, the Administration capitulated to the will of the
wusses, in that they had requested a bill authorizing not merely
"serious" pain, but "severe" pain. I can't help but think of medeival
Bishops sitting around a table deciding on acceptable methods of
questioning for the Inquisition. More importantly, the bill has yet to
clear the Senate, where Democrats stand a better chance of introducing
amendments that would more clearly define proscribed treatment.
Another tidbit of good news is that, despite the disappointment of 34
Democrats caving to the pressures of jingoism, there were seven
Republicans who voted against the measure. Among them were two worthy of
note. First is the esteemed Congressman from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul, who
has rightly earned the nickname "Dr. No" because he consistently votes
his conscience and/or his constituency before the Party. He was the only
Congressman who said he read the PATRIOT Act before voting on it in 2002
- and he voted against it. Second is the honorable Walter Jones of North
Carolina, who represents the coastal district including Camp LeJeune.
His initial claim to fame was the resolution changing the White House
cafeteria identification of French Fries to "Freedom Fries". He has
since become one of the most vocal opponents of the Administration's war
policies in Congress.
Most importantly, IMHO, is that the debate provided an opportunity for
Congressional opponents to frame the issue as a moral one, one in which
American ideals based on Judeo-Christian principles are being sacrificed
for questionable gains. Supporters of the bill did not offer any
rebuttal to opponents' staking of claim to the moral high ground. The
legislation is immoral, inhumane, and un-American, and no one is arguing
House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared that the abduction of our nation's
morality was necessary because "the Global War on Terror is different
from any war we have ever known". I agree with his assessment. It is the
first war in which the United States of America has gone on record as
fighting against a religion.
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