Abolish all torture of U.S. detainees
Senator Inouye and other congressional negotiators are considering a ban on torture of detainees in U.S. custody.
PRESSURE is being exerted on congressional negotiators on whether to approved a Senate-passed ban on torturing detainees in American custody. President Bush has threatened to veto the military spending bill that includes the provision, but Congress should insist that U.S. agencies abide by the Geneva Conventions.
The Senate, by a vote of 90-9, approved a provision that would bar "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of prisoners in U.S. custody, "regardless of nationality or physical location." The provision is not in the House version of the bill, and the issue is expected to be settled in a House-Senate conference that includes Senator Inouye.
Inouye voted for the ban, but a New York Times article last week quoted him as saying, "I think something should be worked out." The article said Inouye's comments "could weaken his bargaining position" in the conference. An Inouye spokesman says the remarks were taken out of context, and the senator "does not support the use of torture."
The White House has insisted that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempt from the provision, which was proposed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam. The administration also wants the words "regardless of physical location" removed, phrasing that would allow terrorists to be tortured overseas.
In a letter to McCain, Capt. Ian Fishback of the 82nd Airborne Division said he witnessed "death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment" of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Such violations of human rights by any U.S. agency must not be tolerated anywhere. Inouye and other conferees should not allow any weakening of the language in the provision. If it is weakened or stricken from the bill, McCain should keep his promise to attach it to other legislation.
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