U.S. should not engage in terroristic conduct
The Senate Armed Services Committee has defied the president in approving a plan for trials and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
THE U.S. Supreme Court ruled three months ago that President Bush could not ignore statutory restrictions in combating global terrorism, but the legislation he is asking from Congress to satisfy those concerns would violate civilized conduct. The president should alter his proposal or live with the consequences of the court's decision.
The high court ruled that Bush lacked authority to create military tribunals providing a lesser standard of justice than federal or military courts. The president wants Congress to allow substandard justice for terrorism suspects and interrogation methods that violate Geneva Convention prohibitions of torture.
Although the House has caved in to White House pressure -- "We'll do what the president wants," said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- the Senate is bravely resisting. Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner and Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins joined 11 Democrats on the committee to endorse a more acceptable bill.
The disagreement has created a major rift in the GOP and questions about whether the military is in agreement with Bush. Top military lawyers who signed a letter supporting Bush's proposal had raised doubts about it in public testimony. Colin Powell, Bush's former secretary of state, said in a letter that the plan would encourage the world to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism" and "put our own troops at risk."
Bush would bar suspects from seeing classified evidence shown to the jury, while the Senate proposal would allow the judge to substitute a declassified summary of the evidence. Bush wants permission for the CIA to hold suspects in secret prisons and to use abusive interrogation methods such as hypothermia and simulated drowning, called "waterboarding."
The fact that the United States is engaged in a war against terrorism does not mean that the government should engage in terroristic practices itself.
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