Bill Nelson for torture
I went to the Hakmiyah prison. I can only describe it as a hellhole. I wanted to go there because of the cell that has the initials carved into the wall "MSS", which is the same as Michael Scott Speicher. We have no proof that that was the case. I observed the torture chamber and the refrigerated containers outside where they would put the corpses. And it all the more underscored the brutality of this regime. -- Sen. Bill Nelson, July 9, 2003
Captain Speicher was shot down during the first Gulf War and was the only American soldier for whom there was no account. No Senator worked harder to find out what happened to Speicher than Nelson. This, of course, is a good thing.
As the photo above shows, Sen. Nelson found what he believes is a room in which Speicher may have been tortured:
At a press conference in Kuwait City late Monday, Nelson said he visited the "hell-hole prison cell," as well as a torture chamber in the prison.
"In the basement, we saw the place where the torture took place. We saw where the chair that the prisoners would be strapped into was ripped from the concrete floor. We saw the wires and the holes that the wires came out for the electrical shocks," he said.
So naturally, one would expect any Senator who has seen first-hand the "brutality" of a government that condones torture to use his vote to ensure his own government never went down that dark road.
You'd be wrong. From today's NY Times:
WASHINGTON, May 31 — The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday questioned the continuing value of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program for terrorism suspects, suggesting that international condemnation and the obstacles it has created to criminal prosecution may outweigh its worth in gathering information.
The committee rejected by one vote a Democratic proposal that would essentially have cut money for the program by banning harsh interrogation techniques except in dire emergencies, a committee report revealed.
But the most novel element of the report is the assessment of the C.I.A. detention program, which the committee has rarely discussed in public. While only the chairman and the vice chairman were briefed on the program during the first five years after it was created following the 2001 terrorist attacks, all committee members have now been briefed for the first time, the report said.
The report acknowledged that the secret detention program “has led to the identification of terrorists and the disruption of terrorist plots.” But it says that achievement must now “be weighed against both the complications it causes to any ultimate prosecution of these terrorists, and the damage the program does to the image of the United States abroad.”
But the committee stopped short of using its budget authority to shut down the program. In a closed session on May 23, two Democrats, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dianne Feinstein of California, proposed barring spending on interrogation techniques that go beyond the Army Field Manual, which bans physical pressure or pain. Under their proposal, the only exception would have been when the president determined “that an individual has information about a specific and imminent threat.”
The amendment failed when Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, joined all the Republicans in voting no.
The loophole in this proposed amendment is already big enough for Bush to waterboard somebody through. But that wasn't good enough for Nelson, who was also one of the 12 Democrats who voted for Bush's torture bill, eliminating habeas corpus last September.
What a disgrace.
Oh, by the way, Sen. Whitehouse, once again, demonstrates that he is the rock star of the 2006 elections. If only there were 99 more like him.