Here’s Senator Wayne Allard’s explanation for why he opposes an amendment to the military appropriations bill that would codify in law the existing ban on torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees:

As you know, the incidents of torture and abuse of military detainees captured in the efforts of the Global War on Terror continue to make headlines in the media. Such acts are despicable and deplorable and are not representative of our armed forces. Those who have committed such acts in the past have violated more than the Army’s regulations for interrogation, they have rejected the very values this nation holds dear.

The President and the Secretary of Defense have made it very clear to our military men and women that the United States does not condone torture, and has punished those who have committed such acts. In the wake of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, the Defense Department has conducted 12 major reviews into detainee operations. There have been more than 500 criminal investigations and 30 congressional hearings, resulting in career-ending actions of the commanding general and the commanding officer of the military intelligence brigade at Abu Ghraib.

Furthermore, codifying the Army field manual, as required by the McCain amendment, does not right the wrongs committed by those individuals who were clearly acting outside of the Army’s existing regulations and the laws of our country. In fact, in my mind, all it does is tie the hands of the Department of Defense at a time when maximum flexibility within the boundaries of the U.S. law is needed.

If the amendment does nothing but add legislative force behind existing administration policy, how does it “tie the hands” of the president? Why wouldn’t a president, horrified by accounts of abuse and torture, not embrace extra emphasis from the Congress on the same matter? If he wants to be “very clear,” why wouldn’t he be delighted by Congressional support?


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