Thursday, October 06, 2005

That's Right, 90-9

Last night, I am proud to report, the Senate voted by the overwhelming margin of 90-9 to back Senator McCain's amendment to ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against any person held in American custody.

Forty-six Republicans, forty-three Democrats, and independent Jim Jeffords supported the measure. Democrat Jon Corzine, busily running for governor in New Jersey, did not vote. The nine dissenters were Senators Allard, Bond, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, Inhofe, Roberts, Sessions, and Stevens. The president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, told the New York Times that if this provision is in the final bill, "there would be a recommendation of a veto."

We've still got a long way to go. This provision either has to pass the House or survive a conference committee (and then pass both chambers again). But with a vote so clearly in its favor, it will be very hard, if not impossible, for its opponents to quash it entirely. Senator McCain and others spoke forcefully and ardently in the amendment's favor yesterday ... and growing support from former top military officials doesn't hurt the cause. They, and we, must now keep up the pressure on the House of Representatives and the White Houseand ensure that this amendment is part of the final bill that goes to the president's desk.

The president is in no position right now to veto an entire Defense Department spending bill over this provision. It must be part of the package, and he will just have to swallow it. If he does not, Congress should override his veto by even wider margins. Our troops in the field must not be put at further risk by vague and unclear policies. It is not too much to demand that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners in our custody not be cruel, inhuman, or degrading. In fact, it would be far too little to demand any less.

In his closing statement last night, McCain summed up the arguments perfectly, speaking of his personal experiences in the "Hanoi Hilton" as a prisoner of war:

"Our enemies didn't adhere to the Geneva Convention. Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But every one of us - every single one of us - knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or countenancing such mistreatment of them."


At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

The 90 vote count is what moves me. That is so obvious a veto-proof vote. Now all we need to do is get the same percentage of representatives to approve the amendments, and Bush's threat of veto has no teeth. Call (dont email, dont write, CALL) your representatives, tie up their phone lines, make them aware the public wants these anti-torture regulations in place.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

This was a good news story to wake up to this morning! Thank Buddha some people have some sense in their headds.

As for Kit Bond, he will be receiving a few emails from his angry constituents this morning.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Wow. Politicians willing to be statesmen. McCain has once again showed his metal in not only securing a victory but in sending an incredibly forceful message.

The White House's position on torture has always been short-sighted at best. Good for the Senate for standing up and supporting real American values.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Carol Gee said...

What possible argument is there for supporting torture?! I wish we could be flies on the wall in the conference committee deliberations, to hear these arguments. Do any of the dissenters come up for reelection anytime soon?

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Jeff D. said...

Does anyone know if this can attain a veto-proof vote in the House? The Senate always seems to be a little more open-minded (with nine exceptions, apparently). The House, on the other hand, seems to be more lock-step with the hardcore right-wing agenda. Lord help us if the Hammer is still calling the shots from backstage.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger JBD said...

Prospects in the House are unknown, but with this kind of margin in the Senate, if we can get it to the floor, chances are good. Getting it to the floor is going to be the hard part, and then keeping it in the bill during conference. That's going to be tough.


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