Detainee Abuse Finished? Not Quite.


Good news: The Senate voted 90-9 yesterday to pass John McCain’s amendments which would “define and limit interrogation techniques that U.S. troops may use against terrorism suspects.” Good, and that could go some ways to curbing abuses, depending on potential loopholes, but I’m a bit suspicious here. Why would the majority of Republicans vote to restrict torture; they’ve never shown any such inclination before. (Look what happened to the Markey Amendment in the House: similar anti-torture provision, defeated by a majority of the House GOP.) The cynical guess here is that the Senate Republicans who voted for thing feel confident that Dennis Hastert and the House leadership will quietly strip McCain’s provision out of the final bill when it goes to conference. So everyone can feel good about voting on the record to oppose torture without their votes having any actual consequences. Or as a last resort, Bush can just veto the bill—maybe as a way of boosting his poll numbers among the Rush Limbaugh set. Or perhaps get some favorable Supreme Court ruling, with John Roberts and Harriet Miers in tow, to do whatever he feels like. The battle against torture is far, far from over.

UPDATE: Jack Balkin has the full text of the amendment, and it’s much more sweeping than anything else yet passed. It applies to all U.S. personnel, not just the Department of Defense (thus closing the “CIA loophole”), and prohibits “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” anywhere in the world.

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.