The Republican-controlled Senate voted Oct. 5 to impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects. Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment to prohibit the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in US government custody. The amendment was added to a $440 billion military spending bill for the budget year that began Oct. 1. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), also requires all service members to follow procedures in the Army Field Manual when they detain and interrogate terrorism suspects.
Bush administration officials say the legislation would undermine the president’s authority and flexibility in war. But lawmakers from both parties said Congress must provide US troops with clear standards for treatment of terrorism suspects. “We demanded intelligence without ever clearly telling our troops what was permitted and what was forbidden. And when things went wrong, we blamed them and we punished them,” said McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “Our troops are not served by ambiguity. They are crying out for clarity and Congress cannot shrink from this duty.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed McCain’s effort. “The world will note that America is making a clear statement with respect to the expected future behavior of our soldiers. Such a reaction will help deal with the terrible public diplomacy crisis created by Abu Ghraib,” Powell said in a letter that McCain read on the Senate floor. (AP, Oct. 5 via TruthOut)
See our last post on the ongoing torture scandal.