The House yesterday voted to pass a bill that would prohibit the CIA and
other intelligence agencies, as well as the military, from using "waterboarding" and other torture techniques on anyone held in detention by our government. The bill would also require all detainees held in US custody to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, eliminating the hair splitting distinctions made by the Bush administration's legal team to justify ignoring our obligations under those treaties. The vote was 222 to 199 in favor (yes, that means some Democrats -- in this case numbering ten -- voted against an explicit ban on torture). Nonetheless, it's a empty gesture since, as anyone could have predicted, Bush has already stated he will veto the bill, known as the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008" (HR 2082) if it ever comes before him for his signature.
The bill now goes to the Senate where I predict that the provisions banning torture and requiring compliance with the Geneva Conventions will be stripped out or watered down, because I just don't think there are enough Senators, Democrats or Republicans, who will want to vote for a measure that will be portrayed as "coddling" terrorists. And should those provisions somehow be approved, President "I'm the Commander Codpiece in Chief" Bush will follow through on his veto threat.
The black eye from the destroyed torture tapes was bad, but it could have been healed by an aggressive investigation and a strong refutation of the use of "waterboarding" and any technique that is torture under international law.
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I remember when America was better that this. It was very simple: torture is wrong, period. I remember times when an American president could stand up and condemn another country for human rights abuses, and the rest of the world listened with respect. Now, other countries will sneer at our condemnation as rank hypocrisy.
There is only one way to restore America's prestige, and that is to immediately impeach the president and vice-president. It's not likely to happen, which I find appalling. We have an administration that is saying "we torture. we will continue to torture. we will not follow international law or our own constitution." If that isn't grounds for impeachment, then what is?
Yeah, I know.
Added: President Jimmy Carter agrees with me:
"Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic
principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantánamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an
accusation of a crime. But you can make your own definition of human rights and say we don't violate them, and you can make your own definition of torture and say we don't violate them." -- Jimmy Carter, caught telling the truth again, Link
I cannot believe that this is now a question.