Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Stand Against Torture

The Senate voted tonight to approve an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would prohibit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of anyone in U.S. custody and make the U.S. Army Field Manual the standard for determining which interrogation methods are legal. The Bush Administration has threatened to veto the defense appropriations bill if the language barring torture, which passed by a 90-9 vote, is not removed before final passage. Removal of the amendment, unfortunately, is possible as Senate and House versions of the bill will have to be reconciled in a conference committee. The House has not yet expressed the same concern over torture.

Sen. John McCain, who was tortured by his North Vietnamese captors during the Vietnam War, sponsored the amendment. His statement on the Senate floor is well worth reading.

There were, of course, a handful of administration loyalists who opposed Sen. McCain's long overdue proposal. According to Reuters, "Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions opposed the amendment, saying the Pentagon has disciplined those responsible for abuse. 'It just galls me that we have people suggesting that this was a policy of our Army,' he said."

Sessions is entitled to be outraged. The policy of abusing detainees came from the White House, not the Army.