Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Cheney leading effort to thwart legislation on detainees

By Eric Schmitt The New York Times
MONDAY, JULY 25, 2005

WASHINGTON Vice President Dick Cheney is leading a high-level White House lobbying effort to block legislation offered by Republican senators that would regulate the detention, treatment and trials of detainees held by the U.S. military.

In an unusual, 30-minute private meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday night, Cheney warned three senior Republican members of the Armed Services Committee that their proposed legislation would interfere with the president's authority and ability to protect Americans against terrorist attacks.

The legislation, which is still being drafted, includes provisions to bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross; prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees; and use only interrogation techniques authorized in a new army field manual.

The three Republicans are John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Warner of Virginia, the committee chairman.

They have complained that the Pentagon has failed to hold senior defense officials and military officers responsible for the abuses that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, and at other detention centers in Iraq, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

The senators could attach their legislation to the $442 billion Pentagon authorization bill for the 2006 fiscal year, which is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor this week. Senate Democrats, led by Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, have said that they will offer a competing amendment to establish an independent commission, modeled after the 9/11 panel, to investigate detainee abuses and operations.

On Thursday, just before Cheney's meeting, White House officials warned in a bluntly worded statement that Senate approval of a Republican or Democratic amendment was likely to prompt Bush's top advisers to recommend that he veto the measure.

Cheney's meeting with the senators was first reported Saturday by The Washington Post.

A spokesman for Warner, John Ullyot, declined to comment on the senators' meeting with Cheney and said "the matter continues to be studied," adding that the Senate could vote on all or some of the provisions this week.

Cheney's involvement in the issue illustrates the White House's level of concern that the Republican bill could pass. Cheney is president of the Senate, and next to Bush, he is the administration's most potent lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

A senior Defense Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the matter, said Cheney took the administration's lead role because the issue cut across the jurisdictions of several federal agencies - and because he had long been the administration's chief defender of presidential prerogative.

According to Senate officials, McCain is considering introducing several amendments. One would prohibit the practice of seizing people and sending them abroad for interrogation. That practice has become the subject of mounting international criticism, as some of the countries involved are known to use torture. It has caused a deepening rift between the United States and some of its strongest allies.

Also, a McCain amendment would bar the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody. This would effectively prohibit not only physical abuse but also practices like placing women's undergarments on the heads of young Muslim male prisoners in an effort to humiliate them.

Graham, who in the past few months has expressed some support for the idea of a wide-ranging independent commission to look into detainee abuses, is seeking to define the term "enemy combatant" for detention purposes, and to regulate the military tribunals to be held soon at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Post a Comment