a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The vote on the Military Commissions Act

Posted by Thomas Nephew on September 29th, 2006


Alexander (R-TN), Allard (R-CO), Allen (R-VA), Bennett (R-UT), Bond (R-MO), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Burns (R-MT), Burr (R-NC), Carper (D-DE), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Coleman (R-MN), Collins (R-ME), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), DeWine (R-OH), Dole (R-NC), Domenici (R-NM), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Frist (R-TN), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hagel (R-NE), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johnson (D-SD), Kyl (R-AZ), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (D-CT), Lott (R-MS), Lugar (R-IN), Martinez (R-FL), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Menendez (D-NJ), Murkowski (R-AK), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Roberts (R-KS), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Santorum (R-PA), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Smith (R-OR), Specter (R-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Stevens (R-AK), Sununu (R-NH), Talent (R-MO), Thomas (R-WY), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA), Voinovich (R-OH), Warner (R-VA).


Akaka (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Biden (D-DE), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV), Cantwell (D-WA), Chafee (R-RI), Clinton (D-NY), Conrad (D-ND), Dayton (D-MN), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Jeffords (I-VT), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Kohl (D-WI), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Lincoln (D-AR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Obama (D-IL), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Sarbanes (D-MD), Schumer (D-NY), Wyden (D-OR).

NOTES: Roll call via U.S. Senate. Links are to selected statements about the Military Commissions Act.
EDIT, 9/29: snarky comment about Olympia Snowe (R-ME) deleted. She was at a funeral for her stepmother and did not vote on this bill.
UPDATE, 10/2: Patrick Nielsen Hayden provides links to leftish and libertarian blog posts about the bill’s passage, using Jim Henley’s summary as the exclamation point:“It is now official United States policy that our security depends on hiding people away and torturing them, said decision to be made in secret without review.”

UPDATE, EDIT, 10/18: House roll call here. The Washington Post does the same by state, with a handful of corrections. Mikulski link added.

9 Responses to “The vote on the Military Commissions Act”

  1. eRobin Says:

    My county’s congressional delegation is 100% pro-torture! May God have mercy on their souls.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Maryland was OK. Mikulski and Sarbanes voted “no” in the Senate, and so did Van Hollen and even Al Wynn and even Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the House, if memory serves. Could have hoped for more of a public, speaking stand from the Senators, but Van Hollen had a very good, succinct stand, as I mentioned a couple of days ago.
    Sorry about your delegation. Not to be even more depressing, but did Bob Casey (DINO-PA) open his yap about this? Not that Ben Cardin did either, and I may decide to get over that anyway.

  3. Nell Says:

    I’m going to be sure to say this, because you won’t hear me saying it often: Sen. Clinton impressed me with her floor speech.
    Learning from the past dept.: The alternative history, in which Democrats went on the offensive early and hard enough to defeat this (or at least to be more completely united in a very close defeat, tarring the Rs as the party of torture and dictatorship:
    1) July: Dem leadership sees that all Rs have to run on is fear/terror/Rs strong father keeping you safe. Political implication of Hamdan is that Bush-Rove will pull another ‘homeland security’: a detainee bill so awful that they’ll have to vote against it, opening themselves to ‘soft on terror’ ads.
    Party leadership consults a team of human rights/detention lawyers to role-play the Cheney-Addington gang and draft several versions of detention/tribunal/interrogation legislation, each worse than the last, up to the limits of their imagination. One goal is to identify key principles to protect and promote (habeas, Geneva, etc.)
    2) Ditto, only in the other direction: Draft a Democratic proposal for detainee process. It’s the minimum needed to resolve issues raised by Hamdan while preserving all the rights and principles underlying our justice system.
    3) The party folds its detainee proposal into an overall campaign message that’s available for all Dems running, incumbents and challengers alike: Their plan isn’t working. It’s made America weaker and less safe. Had enough? Ditch the rubber stamps who won’t hold Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld accountable. Our plan for national security is a return to common sense and American values.*
    4) Develop the arguments used in the floor speeches: Our freedom and our traditional American values are the most important tool in fighting terror. This crowd in power has failed. They didn’t act to prevent the attacks, and their response made the situation worse (NIE – increased terror attacks due to Iraq, hated everywhere). Common sense says the last thing we want to do is give these guys more unchecked power, much less provide legal cover for the illegal things they’ve already done.
    5) Human rights lobbies and networks and Democratic netroots coordinate in educating base on the key principles in 1) above, both to teach importance of blocking R proposal by any means necessary and to inspire positive argument for Dem alternative. (Like what Balkin/Lederman and Hilzoy/Katherine have done.) Theme: common sense and American values.
    6) Sen and House D caucuses thrash out agreement to go on offensive on national security, with own proposals(which actually exists in the form of a laundry-list bill introduced in early September). No need to go into much detail given Dem’s inability to pass anything, but all content of proposals fit into theme of common sense and American values.
    Also secure agreement of caucus that it’s a bottom line to block R bills on detainee treatment and warrantless spying, that no bill is better than compromising American values.
    Theme: Common sense says that if Bush and Cheney have waited five years to address this through Congress, then we have time to do it right. We refuse to let these fundamental American values be trampled in an election-year stunt. Everything they’ve touched has gotten worse, and the people who got us into this mess have shown they aren’t the ones to get us out.
    7) Dem leadership address base, ask for help in generating the public support to hold the line for common sense and American values.
    8 – HR lobbies recruit JAGs and generals, the same crowd that testified this time, to support Dem proposal. [If R chairs make this impossible via regular hearings, then be prepared to organize outside hearings and get big names to push media coverage.] Invite any Rs to join in bipartisan protection of American values. None join.
    9) Post-Labor Day slugfest begins. We put emphasis on their failures, and our common sense proposals. Think tanks, netroots, HR lobbies, Dem leadership all on same page: Common sense says we’re not going to be stampeded into sacrifing American values. We’re not going to give more unchecked power to the people who’ve put the country in more danger.
    I think it would have worked, and I think it would have brought along a few Rs who wished to separate themselves from Bush so as to be there in the next Congress where these issue will be dealt with.
    Key words for attack: reckless, failed, out of control, going nowhere.
    Key words for why choose us: common sense, American values, hold them accountable.
    *See Swopa at Needlenose since summer 2005 for literally a dozen posts urging this approach: search on ‘common sense’.

  4. Thomas Nephew Says:

    1) Wow, what a great strategy. “Common sense” — who knows, it might have worked (not being sarcastic here). It would have been a far more honorable try. Thanks for sharing such an excellent comment.
    2) Yes, Hillary’s speech was very, very good; credit where it’s due. Wish she’d done more earlier, but she’s not alone in that — e.g., Feingold and Durbin didn’t come up that big in advance either, at least not that I know of. I noticed personally that Hillary mentioned Washington’s order to the Continental Army, which resonated so much with me when I was reminded of it a week ago. I’m actually kind of a goofy patriot at heart, this particular fight has been very disappointing to me even after all the other failures.

  5. anonymousgf Says:

    Did all the Democratic Senators running for re-election in close races vote in favor of this?
    That’s a depressing comment on just how successfully the Bush administration has managed to succeed politically even though their policy failures remain undefended.

  6. Thomas Nephew Says:

    I guess you could say so as far as Lieberman goes. But some in not-so-close races did, too, eg, Stabenow – Bouchard (MI) 54-41, 9/6 via SurveyUSA. And Carper (DE), Nelson (FL), and Nelson (NE) are all in races rated “noncompetitive” by Chris Bowers at MyDD.
    UPDATE, 10/1: Of course there’s Menendez as well. And Ford(D-TN) and Brown D-OH) did in the House; both are in tight Senate races.
    2D UPDATE: Menendez(D) – Kean (NJ) 37-42, 9/30 WUSA;
    Brown(D) – DeWine (OH) 45-43, 10/1 Mason-Dixon;
    Ford(D) – Corker 43-42, 10/1 Mason-Dixon, all via TPMCafe.

  7. Nell Says:

    Stabenow is the politically stupidest of all. Arab-Americans are a big and growing part of Michigan’s electorate.
    They only recently came over to Democratic voting, having been big supporters of Bush I. They’re the perfect example of a constituency that is extremely likely to sit out the election if demotivated.
    Rockefeller, for pete’s sake! He’s like a beaten dog.
    Or, like Carper and Lautenberg, is just a sick, corrupt functionary.

  8. » Blog Archive » The Biden pick: could have been worse, I guess Says:

    […] in fairness, he also voted against the Military Commissions Act. (So did Obama and Clinton, while McCain voted for it.) He voted […]

  9. » Blog Archive » Wounded dog kicked Says:

    […] amendment — McCain’s last decent act before he, too, joined the torturers with the Military Commissions Act. This Republican Party deserves no sympathy — just a good old-fashioned “Raiders of the […]

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