Thursday, September 28, 2006

This Isn't What The Governmeant

The detainee/torture bill was passed in the Senate 65 to 34. The big issue:
Senators voted 51 to 48 against the amendment, which called for deleting from the bill a provision that rules out habeas corpus petitions for foreigners held in the war on terrorism. The writ of habeas corpus, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, allows people to challenge in court the legality of their detention, essentially meaning that they cannot be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
The Republicans were helped by 12 Democrats -- Tom Carper, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, Frank Lautenberg, Joe Lieberman, Robert Menendez, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar and Debbie Stabenow. (Republican Lincoln Chaffee voted no.) Tim Grieve at Salon's War Room notes:
But if the Torture Twelve think that today's vote is going to buy them some kind of free pass from the GOP's soft-on-terror claims, they'd better be prepared to be disappointed -- again. Even as the Senate moved toward its vote today, the president was attacking the Democrats -- all Democrats -- at a political fundraiser in Alabama. "Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on the American homeland in our history, Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second-guessing," Bush said. "The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run."

Yes, it has. Just not in the way that he meant it.
Glenn Greenwald adds:
But it is still difficult to understand the Democrats' strategy here. They failed to try to mount a filibuster because they feared being attacked as coddlers of the terrorists. But now they voted against the bill in large numbers, thereby ensuring those exact accusations will be made anyway -- and made loudly (the White House already started today). Yet they absented themselves the whole time from the debate (until they magically appeared today), spent the last several weeks only tepidly (at most) opposing the President's position, and thus lost the opportunity to defend and advocate the position they took today in any meaningful way. As a result, the Democrats took a position today (opposition to this bill) which they have not really defended until today.

They make this same mistake over and over. Isn't this exactly what happened when they sort-of-supported-but-sort-of-opposed the Iraq war resolution in 2002 because they were afraid of being depicted as soft on terrorism, only to then be successfully depicted as soft on terrorism because they were too afraid to forcefully defend their position? It's true that fewer Democrats voted for the President's policy this time around, but it's equally true that they found their voice only on the last day of the debate -- on the day of the vote -- after disappearing for weeks while they let John McCain "debate" for them.

Nonetheless, it is fair to say, given how lopsided this vote was (both in the House and the Senate), that the Republicans are the party of torture, indefinite and unreviewable detention powers, and limitless presidential power, even over U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. By contrast, Democrats have opposed these tyrannical, un-American and truly dangerous measures. Even if Democrats didn't oppose them as vociferously as they could have and should have, this is still a meaningful and, at this point, critically important contrast.
I gotta tell ya, I'm getting really sick and tired of having my ethics and beliefs twisted and ground into dust by this damned administration.

[FYI - the title of the post comes from a nicely libertarian tune from -- of all people -- Bread(!)]


At 9:03 PM, Blogger markg8 said...

Tomorrow Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the retiring Henry Hyde's seat (IL-06) gives the Democratic response to Bush's weekly radio address. On Nov. 4 2004, 1 day after Kerry conceded to Bush Duckworth's legs were blown off by an rpg as she piloted her Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq. Peter Roskam, her opponent has already gotten torn a new one for talking "cut and run" in her presence. Tomorrow is Bush's turn. After the broadcast the webcast should be up on her website:

Check it out and pass it on.


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