Editorial Roundup for Sunday — December 25, 2005

• Other voices weigh in on torture ban-bill, Bush regrets

Other voices weigh in on torture ban-bill, Bush regrets

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., Dec. 20, 2005:

President Bush recently agreed to support Sen. John McCain’s torture-ban bill, finally ending a standoff that had degraded America’s standing around the globe. While the White House tried to paint the agreement as a compromise, it actually was a concession to the will of Congress and the voice of reason. It also marked the abandonment of an untenable argument: The president does not support torture — but he wants the right to approve the torture of suspected terrorists if he deems it necessary. …

McCain’s unassailable credentials as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam and his adamant refusal to water down his proposal no doubt helped win support for the ban. … All in all, however, the agreement represents a retreat by the president and a repudiation of the notion that torture is a necessary weapon in battling terrorism. …

If the United States unilaterally ignores international standards barring torture, what is to prevent other nations from doing the same to captured U.S. service members? If we abandon prohibitions against torture, we cede our national status as a champion of human rights and endanger our own military personnel in the process.

Passage of the torture ban will reassert that the United States is a nation of laws and principles, and that no president can blithely ignore them.

Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y., Dec. 16, 2005:

Whether making an honest attempt to be more open with the public or simply trying to shore up his sagging approval ratings, President Bush emerged from his isolation and engaged in a Mea Culpa Tour over the past week, spending time with TV anchormen and making speeches taking responsibility for going to war in Iraq based on faulty weapons intelligence. …

The fact is there were people in Bush’s administration who were pushing for the invasion and conversion of Iraq to democracy long before 9/11.

It didn’t really matter to them what weapons Saddam may have had. And post-9/11 fears and faulty intelligence gave them what they needed to muster public support. People in fear are the most easily led and fooled.

Once committed, of course, the United States had little option but to see the mission through as best it can.

In that regard, the president and his advisers still have apologies to issue for grossly and deliberately underesti-mating the level of resistance and the amount of troops and armor required in Iraq, and for wrecking the careers of military leaders who dared to speak out on the troops’ behalf.

It’s nice that the president is being more “open,” but it will require more than a few speeches and public relations stunts to regain the nation’s confidence.


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