Today's Republicans (except two), who refused to even allow an Amendment to allow suspected terrorists the right to challenge their imprisonment, are a disgrace to our country.
The Senate today rejected an amendment to a bill creating a new system for interrogating and trying terror suspects that would have guaranteed such suspects access to the courts to challenge their imprisonment.
The vote was 51 to 48 against the amendment, which was offered by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. The action set the stage for final passage of the bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the House of Representatives.
The bill’s ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. Any changes in the Senate bill, however, would have made it impossible for Republican leaders to meet their goal of sending the bill to the White House before adjourning on Friday to hit the campaign trail.
Underscoring the political stakes involved, White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that President Bush will emphasize Democratic opposition to the bill in campaign appearances.
“He’ll be citing some of the comments that members of the Democratic leadership have made in recent days about what they think is necessary for winning the war on terror,” Mr. Snow told reporters en route to a fundraiser in Alabama, according to a transcript provided by the White House.
This afternoon, the Senate was due to vote on two remaining amendments, but the one defeated this morning was the only one that had any Republican support.
The amendment introduced by Mr. Specter would have guaranteed to non-American citizens who are held as unlawful enemy combatants the right to appeal their detention in federal court. The bill now contains no such guarantee.
“What this bill would do is take our civilization back 900 years,” to before the adoption of the writ of habeas corpus in medieval England, Senator Specter said.
Mr. Leahy said the bill as written would allow the executive branch to hold any lawful immigrant in the United States indefinitely without charge. “We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation,” he said, charging that the push for quick passage was purely for political gain.
“There is no new national security crisis,” he said. “There’s only a Republican political crisis.”