Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bipartisan Effort to Regulate Detainee Treatment Derailed By Frist

Senate Republicans led a bipartisan effort to push legislation regulating the treatment and interrogation of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody.

Then the Bush administration pushed back.

Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), in his continuing role as designated Bush-Cheney lackey, derailed the bipartisan effort to set rules for the treatment of enemy prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other military detention camps by abruptly stopping debate on a $491 billion defense bill.

The unusual July 26 move came after several senators beat back an effort by Frist to block amendments setting standards for military-prisoner interrogations.

Frist jumped through hoops to derail the amendments after the White House indicated its intent to veto the defense spending bill if it contained such amendments, and after Vice President Dick Cheney met last Thursday with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Warner (R-VA), urging them to back off.

Rather that risk debate and (gasp) votes in favor of the amendments, Frist pulled the defense spending bill from consideration. The two amendments likely would have received substantial Democratic support and had a strong chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Senate.

By delaying action on the legislation, possibly into September, Frist put off potentially embarrassing defeats for the Bush Administration. But his failure to block the amendments outright -- he needed 60 votes to cut off debate under Senate rules but mustered only 50 -- means the Senate will have another opportunity to vote on military-detainee amendments later this year.

***

Frist's last-ditch moves frustrated senators from both sides of the aisle, including McCain, a co-author of two of the three amendments under consideration.

"It just doesn't make sense to leave defense authorization," McCain was quoted by Knight-Ridder. "We need to make sure that every member of the Department of Defense understands the procedures that are being used in interrogation and we don't have a repetition of Abu Ghraib."

McCain had been working with Graham and Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, to respond to widely publicized cases of prisoner abuse. They proposed to set specific standards for the treatment of foreign detainees.

The three submitted an amendment on July 25 that would have required that the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation cover prisoners in military custody. Then, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), introduced an amendment that would prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners and would require the United States to abide by the Geneva Convention and other international agreements on the treatment of prisoners.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) also had an amendment that would have set up an independent commission to study reports of abuse at military detention facilities.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Bill O'Reilly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I don't understand how you can think liberal journalists are any less biased in their presentation of the news than conservative journalists. By even labeling yourself one way or the other, you've compromised your objectivity

1:50 PM  
Blogger allison said...

If you ask me I think Bill Frist is a liar as well.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Kathleen, maybe you misunderstand the point of the site.

As a regular here, I can tell you that David's main focus is trying to point out instances when the mainstream media uses conservative spin as fact.

Obviously, media "objectivity" is an ideal. A journalist's personal political preference isn't the problem -- it's when a journalist lazily accepts spin as fact that you have a problem. David has focused on conservative spin, I would imagine because we have a conservative President and a Republican-led Congress, as well as major Republican players at the state level, and very influential conservatives in the pundit corps and pushing our national agenda (such as Dr. James Dobson).

Separately, JABBS has done some great work on Bush propaganda efforts, most notably Bush's approval of undocumented video news releases, and the administration's paying of conservative journalists like Armstrong Williams.

2:28 PM  

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