Last Wednesday evening, the United States Senate overwhelming passed an amendment sponsored by John McCain to be attached to a defense spending bill. The amendment specifies that: “No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.” It further mandates that: “No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The Bush administration has indicated that it would likely veto the bill since the amendment is “unnecessary and duplicative” and “would limit the president’s ability as commander-in-chief to effectively carry out the war on terrorism.” In other words, extraordinary problems require extraordinary solutions, and we cannot preemptively “bind the hands” of the United States military if we hope to win the war on terrorism.
In fact, the opposite is true. When we “unloose the hands” of our military, we lose the war on terrorism, because we will ourselves have become no different than our enemies. As Senator McCain said about his amendment: “But this isnâ€™t about who they are. This is about who we are.”