Will the US Legislate Torture

The headline of today’s editorial in the Washington Post says almost all of it: A Defining Moment for America – The president goes to Capitol Hill to lobby for torture.

Here’s the political snapshot: the house has fallen into line and has voted to give the president unreviewable authority to torture. The Senate has balked, and has voted an alternative bill that is merely very very bad rather than despicable. Senator Reid, the Democratic minority leader, has indicated that Bush’s version would be filibustered if it made it to the floor. President Bush has vowed to veto the Senate bill if it gets to his desk (but I personally predict this is a hollow threat). There have been some heavyweight letters on all sides which I haven’t the time to summarize while at these meetings.

No bill at all would be the best outcome, and there’s at least some hope of it. But I’m not hopeful yet.

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11 Responses to Will the US Legislate Torture

  1. Emily says:

    Couldn’t Bush sign the Senate version of the bill, but with a signing statement saying he doesn’t have to pay any attention to it?

  2. Sue Ann says:

    Isn’t it logical to assume that if WE torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention, that we are inviting others to torture our captured troops? And who will be the first to complain when that happens I wonder? Cheney, Rumsfeld or Bush?

  3. I think this is the logical progression of this policy, that it would be adopted by other countries as well, subjecting our troops to the same treatment in other countries. I think that the Administration fails to take into account the long term affect of this legislation. This not only shows a defect in the policy, but the administration’s approach to legislation. I imagine their argument will be something like, that is our definition of interrogation, and it’s only for terrorists, and our troops aren’t terrorists…likely made by Rumsfeld. All we can do is hope that the Senate listens to reason.

  4. Thomas Theobald says:

    When you said “I think that the Administration fails to take into account the long term affect of this legislation”, you were quite right, but incomplete.

    This administration (a) does not care, and therefore (b) does not take into account the long term effect of any action they take. They have been, since day 1, obsessed with only one thing: how to enrich themselves (and their friends) at the public expense to the maximum possible extent for their term in office. Compound that with Bush’s association with religious fundamentalists (read: dangerous fools) and just about anything is explainable. From where I sit, Bush himself seems to be transitioning from his spoiled brat “pay me” mode and into some form of “holy warrior” complex.

    To predict their actions, only one thing is necessary: follow the money. Attack Iran = high oil per barrel = anyone associated with oil revenues or military hardware in the US will profit. If it benefits Focus on the Family without costing him any money, then of course he’ll do it.

    Let’s just hope we can impeach-convict-execute before he takes us all to Jonestown.


  5. What’s sad is that Bush has been torturing people for nearly five years and it’s just coming up now in Congress.

  6. lagarita says:

    Yes, the administration does not care, especially about our troops. Any mal-treament of our troops caused by their abandonment of the Geneva conventions will be a “plus” – an excuse for escalation.

  7. I think this is the logical progression of this policy, that it would be adopted by other countries as well, subjecting our troops to the same treatment in other countries.

    that isn’t the problem — its that our troops will be subjected to worse treatment because we are leading the way in officially abrogating the Geneva Conventions by lowering our standards of what is consistent with “offensive to human dignity”. The US has taken pride in the fact that it leads the way in humane treatment of prisoners (at least officially — we definitely talk a good game.) By lowering our standards, other nations will be encouraged to lower their….

  8. BroD says:

    Why is the Senate debating torture when it should be formulating Articles of Impeachment?

  9. farnsworth says:

    This is the crux of the issue, from an excellent reading of the situation by lagarita.

    “Any mal-treament of our troops caused by their abandonment of the Geneva conventions will be a “plus” – an excuse for escalation.”


    Exactly exactly exactly.

  10. omniadeo says:

    Two points everyone seems to forget–or not wish to discuss–are 1) why they want torture when almost all military experts say it is of no value in real interrogation; and 2) how it is documented that US torture includes threatening the lives of the family members, including the CHILDREN, of the incarcerated.

    To answer # 1–They use torture to intimidate and rule. It gives them power. We must counter the notion that this is about information. It is not. And as for #2, the threat against family is the oldest ploy of Mob bosses. It is the reason why gangsters can murder with no witnesses. People are afraid. That is where they learned this “technique.”

    The inevitable reaction

  11. Em Turner Chitty says:

    This is a letter that I wrote to my local paper, but since my letters are coming fast and furious these days, I don’t know when or if it will appear, and I want to share it here:

    In the next two months before the November mid-term elections, we should all be aware that we will see a flood of confusing information released by the White House, and it will be a roiling tide with just one purpose: to keep control of the House and the Senate in the hands of the Republican party. It has already begun with the White House’s admission that not only has the CIA operated torture prisons overseas, but the White House isn’t even ashamed of them and now more or less explicitly is asking Congress for permission to continue (in President Bush’s sanitized words) “the program.”

    This is stunning, brilliant, bold strategy on Karl Rove’s part: convince the American people that 9/11 lifted all moral holds from us, that our great injury justifies us in becoming evil ourselves. A lot of people who think no further than this morning’s coffee will accept the argument.

    But if we do accept this argument, our country will be transformed, perhaps forever. This will not be the land of the free if we accept Rove’s argument. This will not be the home of the brave. It will be the land of moral cowards and the home of junkyard dogs.

    If the Senate caves as the House has already done on the President’s plan for moral shame, it becomes even more desperately urgent to hang this pitiful Congress out to dry. Back home.

    The White House will seek to persuade us this election cycle to vote locally on local issues, vote for our friendly neighborhood Republican, good old Joe, you knew his dad.

    This time we must keep our eyes on the ball, especially here in the South. We must remember that if any Republican candidate supported 1)expensive, ineffective wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 2)endless tours of duty for overworked soldiers fighting Rumsfeld’s understaffed war 3) awarding huge “rebuilding” contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq and Louisiana and Mississippi to Dick Cheney’s corporate friends 4) dismantling the unit tasked with finding Osama bin Laden 5) leaving the once beautiful town that was New Orleans to writhe in death, and countless other examples of malfeasance, betrayal of the public trust, and plain stupidity–well, if any candidate went along with the White House on any of these issues, that candidate needs to be out of the Congress now. We need a new path now. Staying the course is not an option. The dead do not, as President Bush argues, demand further sacrifice. The dead demand a course correction that only a new and energized Congress can provide.

    Em Turner Chitty
    Knoxville, Tennessee

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