A description of the issue:
The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody. The Bush administration believes that interrogators are acting lawfully, gaining useful information to help win the war against al Qaeda and will continue to press detainees for leads. The controversial interrogation technique known as water boarding, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex, has been banned by CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden. Human rights groups and a number of leading U.S. officials have branded the practice of water boarding as "torture", because it amounted to a "mock execution." While new legislation, reportedly, gave the CIA the leeway to use water boarding, current and former CIA officials have decided to take it off the list of about six "enhanced interrogation techniques."
A summary of the Bush Administration’s position on the issue: After months of consultation among federal authorities and wrangling with Congress, President Bush signed an executive order spelling out legal standards for the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists held by the CIA. The order prohibits cruel and inhuman treatment, including humiliation or denigration of religious beliefs. The order requires that detainees are provided with the basics of life, food and water, and it prohibits subjecting them to extreme heat or cold. The order, for the first time, bars "acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel and inhuman treatment." The order was developed under the auspices of the president’s National Security Council, with several agencies involved.
An argument from an interest group supporting the Administration’s position: ‘American Daughter’ is a group that strongly supports the decisions made by the President in almost all aspects of his tenure. The American Daughters and other similar interest groups believe that torture could obtain information that could save innocent lives. The American Daughters think that torture should, at the very least, be on the table as a possible option. They also think that we should treat the ‘detainees’ the same way that they treat our American soldiers when they are held as prisoners. American Daughter states, “Those prisoners who had their “rights” violated did not care about the rights of the American soldiers they murdered.”
A summary of the Democratic Congressional leadership’s position on the issue:
The Congress has the opportunity to pass a bill that would prohibit war crimes and define such atrocities as rape and torture but otherwise would allow the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, the treaty that sets standards for the treatment of war prisoners. Under this bill, a military commission could try a terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so long as he was afforded certain rights, such as the ability to confront evidence given to the jury and having access to defense counsel. The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.
An argument from an interest group supporting the Democratic Congressional leadership’s position:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is an organization that focuses on legislative lobbying. They are a national organization that advocates individual rights by litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a broad array of issues. They feel that the US moral authority in the world has been undermined by our federal government’s unprecedented and illegal assertion of authority to subject detainees to...
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