Republican Honor Roll on the Torture-Tribunals Bill

The following Republican members of the House of Representatives voted against the Torture-“Terrorist” Tribunal bill (HR 6166) today.

Ron Paul, Roscoe Bartlett, Wayne Gilchrest, Walter Jones, Steven LaTourette, James Leach, Jerry Moran.

These folks deserve hearty applause for their courage in rebuffing the surge of authoritarian sentiments now sweeping the Grand Old Party.

The final vote was 253-168, with 12 members not bothering to vote.

A vote for the bill was a vote for torture, plain and simple.  Congressmen can hem and haw and pretend that they are only authorizing Bush to make decisions on what methods of interrogation will be used.  But everyone who has been paying half-attention knows that the US govt. has been torturing people since 9/11.  And now the House of Representatives has sprinkled its holy water over American barbarity.

This Torture/Tribunal bill looks to me to be far more dangerous for both Americans and for the world than is the Patriot Act. 


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31 Responses to Republican Honor Roll on the Torture-Tribunals Bill

  1. Annie September 27, 2006 at 10:29 pm #

    Question: did any Democrats vote *for* the bill?

  2. Jim September 27, 2006 at 10:50 pm #

    Yes, 34 rascals, names below.

    Democratic Robert Andrews, John Barrow, Melissa Bean, Sanford Bishop, Dan Boren, Leonard Boswell, Allen Boyd, Sherrod Brown, Ben Chandler, Bud Cramer, Henry Cuellar, Lincoln Davis, Artur Davis, Chet Edwards, Bob Etheridge, Harold Ford, Bart Gordon, Stephanie Herseth, Brian Higgins, Tim Holden, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Charles Melancon, Michael Michaud, Dennis Moore, Collin Peterson, Earl Pomeroy, Mike Ross, John Salazar, David Scott, John Spratt, John Tanner, Gene Taylor

  3. Sol September 28, 2006 at 12:14 am #

    With each passing day this country moves closer to a totalitarian state. And the Amerikan sheeple baa with approval as their government masters tighten the noose around their necks.

  4. Casey Khan September 28, 2006 at 6:44 am #

    Mr. Bovard,

    Always enjoy your work. I’m always interested in my Congressman from Mesa, AZ Jeff Flake. This guy always likes to tout about how he’s more “free-market” than Ron Paul by some tax survey. Of course the survey always leaves out questions of war and torture as they assume such things have little to do with the “free-market.” I can’t think of anything more anti market than war, but whatever. In any case, Flake is former head of the Goldwater Institute yet he voted for the current market destructive war. Did he vote for this torture bill as well, or did he not even bother?


  5. Frederick September 28, 2006 at 7:32 am #

    I’m not so sure the Senate will follow suit, if
    they do this bill will end up getting shot down in court when they try to prosecute these terrorist.

  6. Jim September 28, 2006 at 8:25 am #

    Casey -Flake voted in favor of torture.

    But I assume that as long as he still says nice things about free markets, many libertareian types will still treat him as a hero.

  7. Jim September 28, 2006 at 8:27 am #

    Frederick – After Bush has been stuffing the judiciary and the Supreme Court with people who grovel at the foot of Leviathan, I would not count on the courts to save either the Constitution or basic decency.

  8. lawhobbit September 28, 2006 at 10:29 am #

    Maybe Flake figures on there being a whole new market niche for thumbscrews and racks now.

  9. Jim September 28, 2006 at 10:32 am #

    Yes – and as long as there are no government subsidies or trade barriers, the market will be another triumph of freedom.

    I am mystified why so many libertarian and libertarian-leaning folks permit their favorite congressmen to support this type of law and still claim to be friends of freedom.

    What is the point of this self-delusion?

  10. Jim September 28, 2006 at 11:11 am #

    Lawhobbit sent a followup directly to me (which he subsequently cleared for posting here):

    I would expect racks and thumbscrews to be subsidized anyway – not to mention having sixteen page specification contracts for design and construction, since “off the shelf” torture implements will simply not be suitable for federal purposes. Those specs* will, of course, drive up the cost of thumbscrews to something like 500 dollars a pair, but Halliburton will make a killing (no pun intended) providing them.

    *The anti-tank vehicle I drove in the army had a crank to manually raise and lower the missile launcher. The thing was nothing more than a brace and bit – and a crappy one – with a socket welded on in place of the bit. They were kept under lock and key in the supply room and only issued for inspections, because they cost $495.00 each and nobody wanted to take any chances on losing one and having to buy it.

    As for the delusion, I think it’s the standard “well, he does so much good in other areas that I’ll overlook this thing that’ll never happen to me anyway” mantra. Much like the support for term limits (which we’re going to try for again here in Oregon) where people will assure you it’s always the other representative/senator that needs to be limited, they’re usually quite content with their own.

  11. Jim September 28, 2006 at 11:12 am #

    I always knew I should have gone into the crank business.

  12. Jim September 28, 2006 at 11:30 am #

    And on the procurement of torture props –
    – I would bet there is already some profiteering going on that would curl the hair of those who favor paying any price to defend freedom.

  13. Alpowolf September 28, 2006 at 12:14 pm #

    My own take on the self delusion is a line I’ve seen elsewhere (maybe Dilbert cartoons?): “The Key to Happiness is Self Delusion”.

    I suspect there is more to that than simple snark…the alternative, after all, is facing one’s fears and looking inside one’s character to see where the fears really come from and how they are to be resolved. Some folks can’t handle the answers, so they avoid the question.

  14. Jim September 28, 2006 at 12:42 pm #

    Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, is greatly underrated as a source of wisdom. He has some of the most piercing oneliners of anybody writing today.

    I agree that some folks can’t handle the answers -but I would prefer that they not sanction torture to help them sleep at night.

  15. lawhobbit September 28, 2006 at 12:48 pm #

    Re: the crank business. Many of those who know you, both pro and con, would have no doubts about your suitability to be involved in the crank business as it is well known that “like attracts like.” 😉

  16. Jim September 28, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    Actually, I failed the background check when I applied to Crank School back in ’87.

  17. lawhobbit September 28, 2006 at 1:16 pm #

    That just shows how biased the process is against overachievers, I guess. 😀

  18. Jim September 28, 2006 at 1:22 pm #

    Not being permitted to enroll in the school also meant that I could not take the government occupational-certification exam.

    But at least I can still be an unlicensed crank.

  19. lawhobbit September 28, 2006 at 2:29 pm #

    Oh that’s a fine thing to find out after all these years – that the crank I’ve enjoyed has been unlicensed!

  20. Jim September 28, 2006 at 2:32 pm #

    Well, since Congress just retroactively decriminalized torture (at least by CIA agents), then maybe they could also pass a bill retroactively decriminalizing unlicensed cranking.

  21. Annie September 28, 2006 at 3:24 pm #

    So dear Bovard, what can the immoral little people do, other than become righteously cranky about the madness of what is taking place in this country?

    Does a vote even make a difference any more?

  22. Jim September 28, 2006 at 3:27 pm #

    I wish I had a better answer.

    People can get informed – make it hot for their congressmen when they come to town – hammer the talk show call-ins and letters to the editor — …

    I have some other ideas I am chewing on – will probably write ’em up next week.

    A vote can sometimes make a difference, if the government doesn’t rig the machines and erase it.

  23. John M Shaw September 28, 2006 at 6:55 pm #


    FYI – here is Congressman Sherrod Brown’s response to an email I sent to his office chastisting his vote as not being very “progressive.” I would appreciate your rebuttal, since I haven’t read the bill. But it sounds like a copout, hiding behind John McCain. Your take? Thanks

  24. John M Shaw September 28, 2006 at 6:55 pm #


    FYI – here is Congressman Sherrod Brown’s response to an email I sent to his office chastisting his vote as not being very “progressive.”

    Yesterday, Congressman Brown voted for a bill that creates a military tribunal to try those enemy combatants that have been held by the government since September 11, 2001.

    This compromise is supported by Senator John McCain, a former POW who fought to ensure that this tribunal lives up to our national standards on human rights.

    Unlike President Bush’s plan, this compromise measure prohibits the degrading treatment of detainees and specifically lists the types of behaviors that are banned in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

    The Washington Post wrote about the legislation, “The compromise legislation does not seek to narrow U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, as Bush had hoped.”

    Those detained have been held for more than 5 years with no opportunity to prove their guilt or innocence.

    It will provide that opportunity, so that those who are innocent can be set free and those who are guilty can be punished.

    The bill prohibits the use of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees. Because that evidence is often unreliable, it will not admit evidence obtained through torture

    Detainees will be entitled to Combatant Status Review, where they may challenge their detention within the confines of the military tribunal system.

    And the bill will allow combatants to receive an edited version of classified evidence being used to convict them so that they can respond without putting our national security at risk.

    Congressman Brown feels it has taken far too long for a legal framework to be developed – for the innocent who must be freed, the guilty that must be punished, and our homeland which must be secured.

    Jim – I would appreciate your rebuttal, since I haven’t read the bill. But it sounds like a copout, hiding behind John McCain. Your take?


  25. Original Steve September 28, 2006 at 7:20 pm #

    Keep up the good work, Jim….

  26. Ryan September 28, 2006 at 7:54 pm #

    The Senate passed this bill a short while ago.


    I don’t see how this law can be passed in any legal manner. I would think that it could be appealed and overturned.

  27. Original Steve September 29, 2006 at 4:08 am #

    Can someone provide a link to the actual bill?

  28. Michael Kerner September 29, 2006 at 7:32 am #

    I am disappointed to see my own Democratic congress critter (Dennis Moore) on the list who voted for the bill. I met him at a campaign stop just 2 weeks ago and asked him about torture. He made it seem that he was against torture and for civil liberties. Goes to show you…

  29. Jim September 29, 2006 at 8:01 am #

    Ryan – if we had good judges who upheld the Constitution, I would agree.

    I think some provisions of the act may get struck down – but it would be naive to put great faith in this happening.

    Americans cannot count on former prosecutors wearing bat suits to save the Bill of Rights.

  30. Jim September 29, 2006 at 8:04 am #

    John – thanks for posting the letter from your congressman.

    It is such a heap of hooey I don’t know where to begin dissecting. There are so many charades about this bill. I will write more on this later – trying to get up to speed right now on the latest (Friday morn) developments.

  31. Jim September 30, 2006 at 2:32 pm #

    Here is the best summary I have seen on the nuts-and-bolts of the torture compromise legislation: