Monday, December 26, 2005

*Sigh* ... two steps forward, five hundred years back

From Human Rights Watch

After months of opposition, President Bush yesterday accepted Senator John McCain’s amendment banning the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by U.S. personnel anywhere in the world, and prohibiting U.S. military interrogators from using interrogation techniques not listed in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.

But the legislation containing the McCain Amendment currently includes another provision – the Graham-Levin Amendment – that would deny the five hundred-some detainees in Guantánamo Bay the ability to bring legal action seeking relief from the use of torture or cruel and inhumane treatment. And it implicitly authorizes the Department of Defense to consider evidence obtained through torture or other inhumane treatment in assessing the status of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay.

If passed into law, this would be the first time in American history that Congress has effectively permitted the use of evidence obtained through torture.
What is the point of passing legislation denouncing "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" treatment if you simultaneously slip in an amendment that would render it toothless? Other than the obvious cynic's answer that it allows you to publically denounce abusive treatment and look good for the voters while not actually doing anything to stop abusive treatment.

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