Sunday, June 01, 2008

No Torture, No Exceptions

I assume this banner that I noticed on a nearby street is part of the Banners Across America project of the National Religious Campaign against Torture.

The moral issue hovering over the 2008 election is the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture as a tool of statecraft. This mistake must be thoroughly repudiated, and the nation must undertake a vow never to repeat it.

Scott Horton,
No Comment Blog,
Harper's Magazine

Horton, a human rights lawyer, points us to the No Torture, No Exceptions campaign to get both Presidential nominees on record repudiating torture. Horton says the remaining candidates, both Obama and McCain, have verbally committed to ending U.S. torture.

I'm not so confident about that. In February, McCain noisily supported a law that would have limited legal U.S. treatment of prisoners to what is allowed by the Army Field Manual -- then voted against an explicit stipulation against waterboarding. Okay, so McCain, despite personal experience, may be a phony on torture.

What about Obama? What record we have is good. He didn't just vote against the 2006 Military Commissions Act that put Guantanamo tortures under wraps in kangaroo military He actually exercised leadership. But the demands of the campaign process sometimes force him into bellicose posturing, as for example in support of Israel and by threatening Pakistan. It is hard to know what Obama would do if called upon to "prove his toughness" in response to terrorists.

No Torture, No Exceptions aims to give the candidates a reminder that stiffens their spines. They ask that we call the campaigns and let them know we expect them not only to verbally oppose torture, but also to renounce any executive orders or strained legal interpretations that legalize abuse, as well as ending renditions:
  • John McCain: Phone: (202) 224-2235 Fax: (202) 228-2862

  • Barack Obama: Phone: (202) 224-2854 Fax: (202) 228-4260
Seems simple enough.

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