President still wants to use torture

How is it that a 50 year old document (the Geneva Convention) isn’t clear?  America has been able to get information out of prisoners for years without asking for a rule “clarification” from Congress. 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had great timing.  He had been quiet for too long especially on this subject.  He sent a letter to John McCain which added a considerable about of political weight to McCain and other Republicans trying to resist the President.

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WaPo:

A Senate committee rebuffed the personal entreaties of President Bush yesterday, rejecting his proposed strategies for interrogating and trying enemy combatants and approving alternative legislation that he has strenuously opposed.

The bipartisan vote sets up a legislative showdown on an issue that GOP strategists had hoped would unite their party and serve as a cudgel against Democrats in the Nov. 7 elections. Instead, Bush and congressional Republican leaders are at loggerheads with a dissident group led by Sen. John McCain (R), who says the president’s approach would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops and intelligence operatives.

Despite heavy lobbying by Bush, who visited the Capitol yesterday, and Vice President Cheney, who was there Tuesday, McCain and his allies held fast. Even former secretary of state Colin L. Powell weighed in on McCain’s side.

Moments after the Armed Services Committee voted 15 to 9 to endorse McCain’s alternative bill, the Arizona senator lashed out at CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, who had also lobbied lawmakers personally.

McCain told reporters that Hayden wants Congress to give the CIA a virtually free hand to treat detainees as it wishes so that he and his agents will be immunized against accusations of unlawful conduct. “He’s trying to protect his reputation at the risk of America’s reputation,” McCain said. The senator noted that other nations would be more likely to abuse U.S. captives if Americans appeared to sanction such conduct.

A CIA spokesman said Hayden “wants to protect the people who work for him” and who take risks to “help keep all Americans safe.”

The committee action puts McCain and his allies on a collision course with the administration, whose supporters hope to change the bill in the full Senate, and with the House, which is expected to approve the president’s bill next week.

With virtually all Senate Democrats likely to back McCain, he appears to have enough Republican support — for now, at least — to fend off amendments on the Senate floor and to block passage of the House version if it emerges from a conference committee.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn in two weeks, and lawmakers said they will be hard pressed to resolve the matter before the elections.

The disagreement centers mainly on how to square the CIA’s techniques with the Geneva Conventions, which say wartime detainees must be “treated humanely.” The administration bill says the United States complies with the conventions as long as interrogators abide by a 2005 law barring “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment of captives.

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0 Responses

  1. I thought that questioning of prisoners under Geneva was limited to name and rank, no operational questions. Of course, the assumption is that prisoners weren’t involved in kidnapping or other terroristic operations.

    “Sen. John McCain (R), who says the president’s approach would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops and intelligence operatives.”

    I think that the Nazis were the last enemy we fought who even made a pretense of following Geneva Coventions. I don’t think that the Japanese, North Koreans or NVA or Viet Cong followed Geneva. I’m certain that the burning and beheading of captured soldiers and civilians by the insurgents aren’t part of Geneva.

  2. Doesn’t matter. We must take the moral high ground!

    According to the Geneva Conventions prisoners can provide only name, rank and serial number. If you can get more then that’s a bonus!

  3. Given the antics of AlQueda and the insurgent jihadis beheading people, I don’t think that the moral high ground is a prblem.

  4. Mock executions. Mock electrocutions. Real executions. These are all things that are good, hard-working military personnel have done. There is no question about this. The pictures from Abu Ghraib clearly hurt us in the Muslim world. There are multiple examples in which our military was trying to negotiate with local tribal and religious leaders in these atrocities were brought up.

    We are not in a contest between bad and worse. There should be a clear distinction between the United States and the behavior of its troops and everyone else. We do not blow up the man’s house in order to prove we can (we did this). This was done as a “show of force.”

    We’re fighting an insurgency. In order to win an insurgency, we have to win the hearts and minds of the population. The insurgency can make mistakes. They can have rogue elements. The United States cannot. We can no longer afford “mistakes”. We have to get this right.

  5. I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to win a popularity contest with the Arab on the stret. After all, many believe that 911 was an Israeli plot.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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