Thursday, September 28, 2006

Democrats Stand Up Against Torture Bill

For all our bemoaning the unwillingness of Democrats to attack the torture bill, House Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the bill. Glenn Greenwald gives credit where credit is due:

The House voted today to pass the President's interrogation and detention bill. The roll call vote is here. Democrats voted against the bill by a vote of 160-34. Republicans voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 219-7. Of the 34 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, two are currently in close races for the Senate: Rep. Harold Ford in Tennessee and Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

House Democrats acquitted themselves reasonably well on this issue. Several House members gave very stirring and passionate speeches about defending core American values. It remains to been seen whether Democratic opposition to the bill in the Senate will be anywhere near as overwhelming.

But, we can at least be more optimistic.

Update: By the way, here's a great article by David Luban at Slate about how the torture bill betrays the legacy of Nuremberg and the rule of law created mostly by...well, us. It's hard to even understand how we could fight the dreaded Nazis and at the same time create laws that allow us to put war criminals on trial, and yet in our struggle against a far lessor threat our government seeks to immunize those of our own who could be tried as war criminals. How far have we come?

1 comment:

adam said...

From Senator Reid's floor statement:

"The Framers of our Constitution understood the need for checks and balances, but this bill discards them.

Many of the worst provisions were not in the Committee-reported bill, and were not in the compromise announced last Friday. They were added over the weekend after backroom meetings with White House lawyers.

We have tried to improve this legislation. Senator Levin proposed to substitute the bipartisan bill that was reported by the Armed Services Committee. That amendment was rejected.

Senators Specter and Leahy offered an amendment to restore the right to judicial review - that amendment was rejected.

Senator Rockefeller offered an amendment to improve congressional oversight of CIA programs - that amendment was rejected.

Senator Kennedy offered an amendment to clarify that inhumane interrogation tactics prohibited by the Army Field manual could not be used on Americans or on others - that amendment was rejected.

And Senator Byrd offered an amendment to sunset military commissions so that Congress would simply be required to reconsider this far-reaching authority after five years of experience. Even that amendment was rejected.

I strongly believe this legislation is unconstitutional. It will almost certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court. And when that happens, we'll be back here several years from now debating how to bring terrorists to justice.

The families of the 9/11 victims and the nation have been waiting five years for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice. They should not have to wait longer. We should get this right now - and we are not doing so by passing this bill. The National security policies of this administration and Republican Congress may have been tough, but they haven't been smart. The American people are paying a price for their mistakes.

History will judge our actions here today. I am convinced that future generations will view passage of this bill as a grave error. I wish to be recorded as one who voted against taking this step."