Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee

10.06.2005

Proof Congress can still do good

The Senate voted Wednesday to ban cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of military detainees by all American personnel. The amendment to the Defense appropriations bill was offered by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and was endorsed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The vote was an overwhelming 90-9. These nine Republican senators shamefully voted against the measure:


The White House is threatening to veto the whole bill if it contains the amendment. I'd be quite surprised if the first veto this president makes since being elected is to a Defense bill while we're at war.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has the text of the amendment here. I should have posted it earlier.

5 Comments:

At 10/06/2005 07:12:00 PM, Anonymous scott said...

My faith in elected officials is somewhat rehabilitated.

 
At 10/07/2005 12:44:00 PM, Blogger Heraldblog said...

If we add Rumsfeld to that list of senators, we'll have enough for a good size pyramid.

 
At 10/07/2005 08:27:00 PM, Blogger Mr_Proteus said...

What exactly are the merits of this particular bill?

I know, I know, they are voting to ban cruel and unusual punishment. You can't be against that, can you? I mean, you don't even have to mention the actual details of the bill.

I don't know the details myself; I've been out of town. But before you go calling these 9 senators "shameful" you ought to at least make a valid case supporting this legislation.

Will it really work? Is it solving a problem? Is it just feel-good legislation that doesn't actually do anything? These should be asked before starting the name-calling.

 
At 10/07/2005 11:37:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Actually, I read the amendment itself before posting this. If you want a definition, subsection (d) covers this.

"(d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.—In this section, the term "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984."

As for the namecalling, I think calling a vote against this shameful is appropriate.

 
At 10/08/2005 03:50:00 PM, Blogger Mr_Proteus said...

Ah, you added the text. That's better. Remember, the devil is in the details.

Looking at the text, I have one concern about the bill, and it is this statement:

"In this section, the term "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States..."

Let's look at the what punishment was prohibited by the Fifth amendment:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..."

So the Fifth amendment already specifies an exemption for cases involving land or naval forces or in time of War. This bill is therefore potentially unconstitutional.

If so, the senators that voted against it are anything but shameful.

 

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