The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted 15-9 to recommend a bill — over the objections of the Bush administration — that would authorize tribunals for terror suspects in a way that it says would protect suspects’ rights.
It differs from the administration’s proposal in two major ways: It would permit terror suspects to view classified evidence against them and does not include a proposal that critics say reinterprets a Geneva Conventions rule that prohibits cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees.
Article III prohibits nations engaged in combat not of “an international character” from, among other things, “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”
The vote came after White House spokesman Tony Snow said opponents of its proposal on detainee treatment misunderstood the administration’s intentions when it proposed to define how Article III applies to the interrogation of terrorist suspects.
Powell expressed his opposition in a letter to McCain that was released Thursday.
“The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,” Powell, a retired Army four-star general, wrote in his letter to McCain, whose amendment last year opposed the use of torture.
“To redefine Common Article III would add to those doubts,” Powell said. “Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”
Military lawyers also have raised concerns about the administration bill’s restrictions on due-process rights for defendants. Prosecutors would be able to present evidence to the tribunal that would be kept secret from the defense and could use hearsay and coerced confessions against defendants. Human rights groups have objected to those provisions as well.
Partisan politics begin to decay and shred as mid-term elections approach. Essentially, the managers of the Congressional segment of Party leadership — both Tweedledee and Tweedledum — have started to differentiate themselves from an administration wholly out of touch with the American electorate.
Colin Powell didn’t have to speak out, again. He realized that we have a president who already decided to ignore the previous McCain Bill on Torture — and will probably do so, again.