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By 20-20 Vision
It was one of the most overwhelming votes in recent memory. By a vote of 90-9, the Senate voted for the so-called McCain Amendment. The Amendment was simple. It stated that, "No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment." In short, it promised the world that the US would not commit acts of torture.
It's amazing that it has come to this. It's outrageous that Vice President Richard Cheney went to the Congress to lobby against this simple statement. It's inconceivable, yet true, that nine US Senators voted in favor of condoning torture. But the Senate put aside its partisan differences and overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment. It seemed that simple decency would be affirmed.
But now the US House of Representatives might stop the McCain Amendment. Because they didn't pass anything like it, House members may use the arcane rules of the "Conference Committee" to take the amendment out before the bill goes to the President's desk.
That's why a group of Representatives, led by Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, is seeking to make sure that no backroom deals that allow torture are slipped in. He is working on a "Motion to Instruct." In effect, this forces the conferees to accept the language in the McCain Amendment as part of the bill. We must support this effort.
The reasons to oppose torture are self-evident. It's inhumane. It exposes our troops abroad to retaliatory torture. It abdicates America's historic role as a leader in human rights. According to numerous military studies, it's an ineffective way to gather trustworthy intelligence, as those being tortured will say anything to get out of it.
In short, torture is indefensible and damages the US. But that's not stopping some from wanting to use it as an instrument of US policy.
Please contact your Representative today. Demand support for simple decency, and for the rule of international law. The Senate, faced with a public vote on torture, responded with an overwhelming vote against this terrible practice. Please make sure the House follows suit.
Thanks for all you do.
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What You Can Do
Please contact your Representative's office today. This vote could happen as early as Thursday! It's crucial that Representatives know that we are paying attention, and that we care about this issue.
You can either call at (202) 224-3121, or use our online form to send them an e-mail here.
If you decide to call your Representative, please remember to mention the number of the bill we're supporting. Keep your message short and to the point.
Please take action!