Campaign 2010

Jun 16, 2004

Wa Po and the “Torture Amendment”

Via TalkLeft, who have been humming on this amendment for a while, we have the Post’s endorsement of an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill.  Incidentally, the editorial also lays down the law on what we know as well as anything I’ve seen:

SLOWLY, AND IN spite of systematic stonewalling by the Bush administration, it is becoming clearer why a group of military guards at Abu Ghraib prison tortured Iraqis in the ways depicted in those infamous photographs. President Bush and his spokesmen shamefully cling to the myth that the guards were rogues acting on their own. Yet over the past month we have learned that much of what the guards did—from threatening prisoners with dogs, to stripping them naked, to forcing them to wear women’s underwear—had been practiced at U.S. military prisons elsewhere in the world. Moreover, most of these techniques were sanctioned by senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Iraqi theater command under Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. Many were imported to Iraq by another senior officer, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller.

And as for the amendment…


The Senate, however, has an opportunity today to directly address the mess the administration has made of interrogation policy and of America’s global standing. An amendment to the defense authorization bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would reaffirm the commitment of the United States not to engage in torture, and it would require the defense secretary to provide Congress with guidelines ensuring compliance with this standard. Sadly, the Bush administration’s policy decisions have cast doubt on whether this country accepts this fundamental principle of human rights. Congress should insist that it does.

Andrew Sullivan also joins our “little group of left toughies” in supporting the Post’s view, and asks some pretty rough questions:

I keep remembering, as Anne Applebaum notes this morning, the look on the faces of those creeps humiliating inmates, and the grin on the face of Graner as he posed next to a murdered inmate. They are the faces of people who know they are doing what they are supposed to do. They fear no retribution. 37 inmates have died - died - in U.S. custody. Do we think they all caught pneumonia? Mercifully, some in the military upheld their own honor and disseminated the pictures. But what would have happened if we had not seen those pictures? Would torture still be going on? How would we have found out? This comes down to a fundamental compact between a government and the people. From all the evidence we see so far, the Bush administration has violated that compact, allowed America’s hard-won reputation for decency and fairness to be tarnished, and compromised the moral integrity of the war on terror. What is their explanation?

It should please us all to know that the amendment has been not only introduced by Democratic Whip Hoyer in the House, but has passed the Full House Appropriations Committee by voice vote.  Says Hoyer:


“I hope that this reaffirmation of the U.S. policy against torture will help to reassure the world that Americans renounce the use of torture and will not abide its use by our military or our citizens.”


Update: TalkLeft lets us know that it has passed the Senate as well.  So now both chambers have condemned torture - too bad Bush is so reluctant to do the same.

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