November 19, 2005
Area lawmakers back prohibition of torture
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON - A prohibition against the torture of anyone in U.S. custody is drawing support from area lawmakers, including Rep. Ralph Regula. But President Bush is resisting the proposal, even though he opposes torture.
“I’m for it,” Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, said of the anti-torture measure Friday. “The Americans don’t do things like that, and I don’t understand why people would be suggesting that we should adopt the tactics of some other societies.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was tortured while a prisoner in North Vietnam, authored the measure after evidence surfaced that prisoners and detainees were being tortured or abused at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
McCain said the prohibition is needed to clarify the nation’s ban on torture for troops and others who have received mixed messages about what is permitted during interrogations.
Area Democrats, including Reps. Ted Strickland of Lisbon, Tim Ryan of Niles and Sherrod Brown of Avon, endorsed the ban in a letter to House Republican leaders last month.
Vice President Dick Cheney has lobbied against the language, which he believes is too broad and would prohibit the use of interrogation methods necessary to obtain vital national security information. He also has pushed to exempt the CIA from the restrictions.
McCain attached the prohibition to two defense bills that have won Senate approval, but that now must be modified before being submitted to the House.
The prohibition states that no individual in the custody of the U.S. government “shall be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Its coverage extends to non-citizens being held anywhere in the world.
The bill also would make procedures contained in the Army’s Field Manual the standard for all interrogations of detainees the military holds. The manual currently is being rewritten.
The White House insists that Bush opposes any use of torture, but in a statement, officials threatened a veto of any language that “would restrict the president’s authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attacks and bring terrorists to justice.”