Senate Passes Torture Ban

In 2009, almost immediately after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order which restricts all government employees from using on anyone detained during any armed conflict "any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual," thus effectively ending the torture program used by the CIA and US military.

This radical (!) order prompted outrage from conservatives, including Bush's former chief speechwriter Marc Thiessen, who moaned: "It's not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office."


Except: Because it was an executive order, it could be overturned by the next president. And almost surely would be, if the next occupant of the White House is a Republican.

So Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstin and Republican Senator John McCain joined forces to co-author an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reaffirm and codify President Obama's executive order banning the use of torture.
Should the McCain-Feinstein amendment be made will be harder for future administrations to repeat the actions of the Bush administration, which used controversial legal opinions to justify torturing detainees. The amendment would also turn into law a second component of the Obama order, which requires the Red Cross to have access to detainees in US custody, bringing America into line with the Geneva convention.
Despite opposition from many of McCain's Republican colleagues, whom he urged to avoid the "dark path of sacrificing our values for our short-term security needs," sounding like a reasonable human being for once in his life, the amendment passed in the Senate, 78-21.

And any further Republican opposition to the amendment is unlikely to hold up the legislation to which it's attached, because the National Defense Authorization Act is the defense appropriations bill neither party likes to delay even for the most objectionable amendments, because they don't want to be accused of failing to support the troops or being soft on defense or whatever.

So, the long and the short of it is: We are very close to outlawing torture once again.

Until the next Republican War President, anyway.

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[Video autoplays at link] Relatedly, if you can access video, John Oliver did a segment Sunday night on US torture policy that is definitely worth a watch, with warnings for description and images of torture, as well as a rape joke. In addition to the usual providing of solid information, he also employs a video clip that is near and dear to many of our hearts. I won't spoil it for you, though. *jumps into Christmas tree*

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