Thursday, October 06, 2005

A vote for decency in the Senate

And no, I'm not talking about new restrictions on Internet porn.

According to the Washington Post:

The Senate defied the White House yesterday and voted to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress's growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.

Forty-six Republicans joined 43 Democrats and one independent in voting to define and limit interrogation techniques that U.S. troops may use against terrorism suspects, the latest sign that alarm over treatment of prisoners in the Middle East and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is widespread in both parties. The White House had fought to prevent the restrictions, with Vice President Cheney visiting key Republicans in July and a spokesman yesterday repeating President Bush's threat to veto the larger bill that the language is now attached to -- a $440 billion military spending measure.

I am a supporter of the War on Terrorism, and I agree with Bush's statement today that in many ways "this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century" (except that we are facing a less powerful but more elusive, more unpredictable enemy). I also believe our mission in Iraq, however mismanaged, may yet do more good than harm. But we cannot, in this struggle, allow ourselves to lose sight of our own principles and moral standards. That the Bush Administration is vigorously resisting a bill that would prohibit "cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment" of prisoners in U.S. custody, on the grounds that it "limits the President's ability to conduct the War on Terror," is disturbing – both morally and public relations-wise.

I'm proud of the fact that the amendment was overwhelmingly passed across partisan lines (and I applaud Sen. John McCain, a former Vietnam POW, for leading the charge). I'm not proud of the fact that it was needed.

See more from Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan on the subject.

A resounding silence from Michelle Malkin and National Review's The Corner, so far.

Just now on Fox News, Brit Hume has referred to the amendment as intended to ensure that "captured terrorists" are not mistreated. This is loaded language. Perhaps all or nearly all the prisoners at Guantanamo fit that description, but many of the Iraqi detainees are no more than suspects, or just people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.


William R. Barker said...

Prisoners of war deserve prisoner of war status. Terrorists don't. It really is that simple.

I'm all in favor of granting Geneva Convention protections to eligible prisoners. But that's where I draw the line.

Saddam's government is no more. Any of his SOLDIERS still in American custody should be either charged as war criminal or released. Obviously, these SOLDIERS should have been treated as prisoners of war throughout their captivity and if they weren't those responsible should be charged.

As for the terrorists... insurgents... rebels... whatever you want to call them... they deserve no protections, no quarter. In fact, according to the rules of war, we're entitled to summerarily execute such vermin on the spot - a policy I for one heartily propose.

Rainsborough said...

Mr. Barker will I hope agree that if we're to shoot the vermin on the spot, we must first grant them due process to ensure that they have correctly been classified as being human beings without rights.
Ms. Young will I hope agree that as to his policy of torture, the Commander in Chief has let her down by his insistence on the notion that the Constitution permits him to run a policy more consonant with Mr. Barker's views than hers. It is quite remarkable that the president who has never cast a veto has threatened to do so to preserve his supposed power to torture. He has his priorities and his understanding of the proper conduct of the war on terror.