Bush Accepts Torture Ban
President Bush has begrudgingly accepted the ban on torture and other inhumane treatment of terrorist suspects after months of pressure led by Senator John McCain.
President Bush reversed course on Thursday and accepted Sen. John McCain’s call for a law banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of foreign suspects in the war on terror. Bush said the agreement will “make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of torture, whether it be here at home or abroad.” “It’s a done deal,” said McCain, talking to reporters in a driving rain outside the White House.
Under the deal, CIA interrogators would be given the same legal rights as currently guaranteed members of the military who are accused of breaking interrogation guidelines. Those rules say the accused can defend themselves by arguing it was reasonable for them to believe they were obeying a legal order.
“We’ve sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists,” McCain said earlier as he sat next to Bush in the Oval Office.
The White House at one point threatened a veto if the ban was included in legislation sent to the president’s desk, and Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to all Republican senators to give an exemption to the CIA. But congressional sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of the ban, and McCain, a former Navy pilot who was held and tortured for five and a half years in Vietnam, adopted the issue.
This is another long-overdue course correction. For all intents and purposes, the United States already had a ban on this conduct. But by maintaining the legal option, we lost the public relations battle.
Those who are inclined to see no moral distinction between the United States and the terrorists are unlikely to be swayed by this gesture. It may have some negligible effect with our allies, however.
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