Yesterday the House rushed through Bush’s ‘torture bill’ and today as the Senate is in the midst of debate on the bill it is clear there is no stopping this travesty of justice. The N.Y. Times reports that “House Democrats were prevented from offering any amendments,” during their debate yesterday. Where is our Democracy? Under the agreement reached by the Senate, Democrats were allowed to propose four amendments.
One, by Mr. Levin, would have adopted the approach endorsed by the Armed Services Committee and the three Republicans who resisted the Bush administration: Senators John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It failed on a 54-to-43 vote, with two Democrats, Senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, crossing party lines.
Republicans remain confident they will hold off any changes to the ‘torture bill’ when the remaining amendments come up for vote today. John McCain sold out last week and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate have followed suit.
Speaking at Johns Hopkins University today on National Security, John Kerry had this to say about the ‘torture bill’ during his speech:
“We’ve got to tell the truth about what’s happening right now – right now – in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn’t limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn’t get it. Still. Right now – today — they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.
Let me be clear about something—something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.
The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they’ve already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.”
“It leaves our moral authority in tatters if the president who seems to have been for torture before he was against it is given a blank check by a Congress that would rather duck the issue and dodge the debate. It is time for the United States Senate to make clear what presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton knew for certain but this Administration prefers to muddy: on the issue of torture, there is no compromise. America will not weaken the values that make us strong.
“We need to restore America’s moral authority in the world, and we do that by leading according to our best values. That’s how we need to define America, and that’s how we need to define our foreign policy.”
My sources tell me that John Kerry will be speaking on the Senate floor sometime soon after noon in opposition of the ‘torture bill’. The bottom line I am told, is there were no improvements to the bill. It’s a done deal. The true patriots of this country are those who stand in opposition of this bill today. Don’t let anyone fool you.
UPDATE 2: The video of John Kerry’s speech at Johns Hopkins University is available here.
REALTED POST: “Let America Be America Again”