Torture: anti-military, unChristian, unAmerican
Posted by Lorelei Kelly
How's that for a message? Now that we're at the lowest point in our constitution's history, the left is agonizing over how to respond to today's vote on military commissions (the torture bill) which passed in the House 253-168. The dilemma: Oppose it on principle and open yourself up to Rove's campaign vultures--vote for it and depress your liberal and activist base--who see this not as a small compromise for some larger good, but a big time betrayal of principle. Many liberal Dems will have a lot of explaining to do over the next six weeks. Hopefully, the Senate will offer a sunset amendment to the bill Thursday--so a future Congress will have to reauthorize it.
This gnashing of teeth is a healthy sign. But the tardiness of the collective outrage (The Supreme Court passed Hamdan months ago) points out that we still have a lot of progressive infrastructure to build, i.e. philosophical frameworks linked to individual messages, domestically focussed organizations that work together and have a national security component, etc. One would think these larger themes would be obvious: After all, America's founders fought and died so that everyone should have the right to trial and to be able to face their accusers. Members of Congress swore to uphold the Constitution, and this bill is clearly unconstitutional. But that word has too many dang syllables for a campaign ad...sigh. The constitution's got nothing on Rove--not yet.
Well, do Americans believe that it is unAmerican to torture? Polling that is publicly available is all over the place. Sometimes it is strongly for torture, sometimes strongly against it - it seems to depend mainly on how the questions are framed. I think the answer is destined to be unsatisfactory, but its somewhere in the middle. Members who can speak out did so most eloquently. Others (those in tight races) voted yes. That is not an indictment of the entire Democratic party. They offered many amendments and other maneuvers, all were rejected. Again, the process that led to this vote sheds light on the decayed innards of our legislature. Suddenly arcane actions like today's "motion to recommit" become heroic. We need to pay more attention to details far, far ahead of time from here on out.
Here is a partial list of statements that makes me proud of the Dems: watch
all of them on youtube .
Rep Ike Skelton (D--MO) "If you want to be tough on terrorists, pass a statute that will meet the scrutiny of the Supreme Court of our country."
Rep. Steve Israel (D--NY) "If I am asking young men and women to die for what we stand for, I want to stand for something."
*Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): We rebelled against King George for far less infringements"
*Democratic Leader Pelosi (D-CA): "This Bill Does Violence to the Constitution"
*Democratic Whip Hoyer (D-MD): "This legislation, at bottom, is really more about who we are as a people than it is about those who seek to harm us."
Rep Louise Slaughter (D-NY) "This bill sends a clear message to both our friends and our
enemies about what kind of people we are. It shows them whether or not we are really willing to practice what we preach about freedom, democracy, and human dignity."
Rep. Barbara Lee (D--CA) "America has always been not only a nation, it has been an idea. And when we sacrifice that idea , it is a setback in this war of ideas."
watch the whole video here