Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Senate Votes to Bar Torture

Today's really good news:
The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to ban the U.S. from ever again subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, “rectal feeding” and other brutal interrogation practices widely condemned as torture. In a 78-21 vote, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supported a new prohibition on "enhanced interrogation" practices and other novel detention methods.

“We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always, always, be as right and honorable as the goals and ideals we fight for,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee and an author of the amendment. “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”
On the other hand, this means that 21 US Senators voted for torture. All of the Democrats voted for the ban, so those who voted for waterboarding are all Republicans. They are:

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY)
Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX)
John Barrasso (WY)
Roy Blunt (MO)
Dan Coats (IN)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Tom Cotton (AR)
Mike Crapo (ID)
Jodi Ernst (IA)
Deb Fischer (NE)
Lindsay Graham (SC)
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Jim Inhofe (OK)
James Lankford (OK)
Mike Lee (UT)
James Risch (ID)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Ben Sasse (NE)
Tim Scott (SC)
Jeff Sessions (AL)
David Vitter (LA)

Shame on all of them. But double shame on the one senator out of 100 who managed to miss this vital vote, who also happens to be a presidential candidate: Marco Rubio. Now there's showing some real courage and leadership.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

In the interest of fairness, despite my own personal opinion, I do feel compelled to point out that such voting need not be "for" torture, per se.

A vote against a ban could come with certain caveats - one might conceivably be in favor of keeping torture open as an available option but with some specific set of limitations, rather than prohibiting it entirely.

After all, there are other objectively terrible things like waging war which we deem legal so long as it all goes through the proper channels. Logically there's not much difference between dropping bombs on people and torturing them for information - and some might argue that it's better to be tortured and alive than untortured and dead. I could easily see people of certain mindsets justifying torture in the same way they would justify declaring war. I would consider such people to be deeply misguided, but it's certainly not beyond imagining.

All that said, I will point out that it has been repeatedly demonstrably proven that torture is completely antithetical to gathering intelligence. It does have other uses - it most certainly makes for an effective terror weapon capable of demoralizing your opponents - but that's the sort of tactic usually reserved for brutal totalitarian dictatorships, not for democratic societies.

That said, this seems to me to definitely be a step in the right direction. I sometimes get cynical about politics and congress in particular, but it's refreshing to be reminded that they do still get some things done - even if they should have been done decades ago.