Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dodd Urges Bush to Delay Implementation of Torture Bill

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) yesterday called on George W. Bush to postpone putting the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) into place until a new Secretary of Defense is confirmed and can examine the hideous piece of legislation passed by the Republican Congress in September.

“I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country,” said Dodd, who introduced a bill last week to effectively neuter the MCA -- also known as the Torture Bill -- entirely. “But in my view, in order to sustain America’s moral authority and win a lasting victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in accordance with the rule of law. It is my belief that the provisions of the Military Commissions Act run counter to these very aims, and may actually undermine the judicial system established by the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Dodd, whose Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act amends the MCA to, among other things, strike the provision allowing for torture of detainees and restore the rights of habeas corpus, also sent a letter to Bush asking that the law's implementation be delayed.

"I am writing to urge you to refrain from any action that would essentially implement Public Law 109-366, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, until the new Secretary of Defense has been confirmed and has had the opportunity to undertake his own review of this statute and related draft implementing regulations," wrote Dodd to Bush.

"With the nomination of a new Secretary of Defense, I believe that you took a commendable step toward establishing a new direction in U.S. national security policy, and, what I hope is a renewed commitment to universally accepted principles of human rights."

I'm sure Bush got a real laugh out of the part about "…universally accepted principles of human rights." Let's not forget that Bush is the same compassionate conservative who executed so many people as Governor of Texas that they had to replace the electric chair with electric bleachers.

Dodd also recommended to Bush that his new Secretary of Defense consult with Congress about the law, a passage I'm sure also made soda squirt out of the president's nose.

At a November 16 speech at Howard University in Washington DC, Dodd spoke movingly of his vision of America and the wrong path we have been on since the beginning of the new century.

"The world has watched with admiration as each generation, almost without exception, inspired by idealism, took America to better places," he said while speaking of the nation's history. "Now, they watch an American leadership that does not challenge us to be better and seems indifferent to the principles that we affirmed before the world."

"Travel around America today and there is a sense that something is being lost. Something is missing," the Connecticut Senator continued. "I’m not just referring to jobs or the tragic loss of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, as significant as those losses are. I’m talking about something else, something deeper. I’m talking about a sense of who we are as a people, of what we stand for."

Dodd also emphasized the further impact on America's reputation when Republicans trash our nation's moral foundation, while lazily avoiding real solutions to the challenges the country faces:
"When we look to our leaders to take a bold stand on these issues that are so important to our lives – we see an American President who takes a bold stand on torture instead. It is impossible to imagine a John Kennedy or a Bill Clinton – or a Ronald Reagan – signing that shameful torture bill that our President signed into law a month ago.

"What people like my father understood and what Dr. King knew so well: that America’s ability to bring about a world of peace and justice was rooted not only in our military might, but also in our moral authority.

"For six years now, America has succumbed to the politics of small solutions and low expectations. We don’t try to solve the big problems we face. In many cases, we don’t even talk about them.

"As a nation, I believe America once again needs to be unapologetic about being idealistic."
And Dodd summed up both his speech, his stance on the MCA and the direction required of the new Congress in very eloquent, but simple terms.

"It’s time we reassert the principle that fairness is not weakness, that being principled is patriotic, and being strong also means being smart."