Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Soul of the Republican Party at Stake

From a Knight Ridder August 3, 2005 story:

"Three senior Republican senators wrote a small amendment into the Defense Appropriations bill this summer that outlaws cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of all detainees in American custody.

No one can call Sens. John Warner, R-Va., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., soft on anything, much less terrorism...

On the floor of the Senate, before everyone left on vacation, Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala., sounded the administration line: There is no need for this legislation because we are not dealing with prisoners of war but "terrorists."

John McCain stood up and responded that the debate was not "about who they are. It's about who we are." We are Americans, the senator said, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than those who slaughter the innocent in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in London or on 9/11 here at home.

This debate has a special resonance as investigation after investigation into the outrages against prisoners at
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and others into the mistreatment of detainees held in American custody at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, continue to focus all blame at the lowest possible level. This in spite of new testimony that strongly suggests that the blame, like cream, settles much nearer the top.

Please repeat after the good senator who knows about prisons and the torture of helpless human beings:

This is not about who they are. This is about who we are. We are Americans and we hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct. And, no, the end does not justify the means. Not now. Not ever, when the means include torturing prisoners."

And so say we all.