Friday, July 22, 2005

Stand and deliver 

The Senate is trying to hijack the defense spending bill to do somthing about torture, so naturally the White House is threatening to veto the bill.
Let Bush bluster and threaten -- what odds would anyone give me that Bush would actually issue his first veto in five years over the 'principle' that the president should be able to imprison and torture people at whim?
And its about time the Senate stepped up. The issue is this: the US Senate is reviewing a $442 billion expenditure for US defense programs. Republicans John McCain and Lindsay Graham are working with Armed Services Committee chair John Warner to add amendments to the bill to standardize treatment of prisoners, to define the legal status of the Guantanamo prisoners, to barr the holding of "ghost" detainees, to codify a ban against cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to use the Army manual as a basis for all interrogations. Democratic senator Carl Levin also wants to add an amendment to establish a commission on abuses, which the Pentagon says would be just "political theatre".
So now the White House has announced that such amendments would "interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war." and has threatened veto "if legislation is presented that would restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice."
I think the Pentagon and the White House will find that their 'political capital' on the torture issue is long since spent. McCain, Graham and Levin aren't going to let their own presidential campaigns be hijacked over torture and Guantanamo.
Not to mention, of course, that stopping all this stuff is the right thing to do. In the past, Congress and the American people could expect that their executive branch would defend the American constitution -- in his oath of office, the president swears to protect and defend the American constitution. But the Bush gang demonstrated their basic contempt for the constitution when they responded to 911 by so quickly and eagerly embracing the characteristics of dictatorship -- torture, imprisonment without trial, and abandonment of habeas corpus. More than any other issue, this revolting stampede to abandon constitutional principles has caused a substantial loss of US respect and prestige around the world, and rightfully so.

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