Detainee Abuse Finished? Not Quite.

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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.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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