Wednesday, June 16, 2004

This is great, but…
It looks like TalkLeft was the first to have the news that the Durbin Anti-Torture Amendment passed the Senate (Jeralyn even beat the AP). The amendment to a Defense Authorization bill “reaffirm[s] US commitment to the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and [affirms] unequivocally the prohibition against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” The Amendment had good bipartisan sponsorship (Durbin, McCain, Specter, Levin, Feinstein, Leahy, and Kennedy) and passed on a unanimous voice vote.
"The world is watching us," said the legislation's sponsor, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. "They are asking whether the United States will stand behind its treaty obligations in the age of terrorism."

The measure says the United States "shall not engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ... a standard that is embodied in the U.S. Constitution and in numerous international agreements which the United States has ratified."

The amendment also would require the secretary of defense to issue guidelines to ensure troops comply with the standards and report to Congress on any suspected violations. There is no equivalent legislation in the House defense authorization bill and the two chambers would have to decide whether to include it in the final version.

This is a great first step toward undoing some of the damage that this administration has done to America’s moral standing in the world. Still, it makes me sick that we have been brought to a point where we have to pass a resolution that directs the military and the administration to obey the laws already on the books and not commit any war crimes. Was it so much to expect that they would obey our laws without being having congress pass a bill pointing out which laws we want obeyed? Are there any other laws that we should be making a special effort to point out to them? Should we add a line to the Durbin Amendment to the effect that in singling out these laws we are not implying that these are the only laws we expect the administration to obey?

I hate what these people have done to my country.

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