Episcopal News Service Monday, September 18, 2006
Anti-torture fight unites faiths on treatment of terrorists
By Maureen Shea
[ENS] While Congress votes this week on legislation proposed by the White House concerning the treatment of terrorist suspects, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold joined 27 other religious leaders in signing the statement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (http://www.nrcat.org), proclaiming that torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear.
The Rt. Rev. George E. Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies for the Episcopal Church, issued a statement September 15 that was delivered to both houses of Congress, reminding them of "the cherished values of our nation" in recognizing and upholding human rights.
The White House proposal, known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, results from the Supreme Court decisions in June that rejected the administration's position on the rights of detainees held in America. The White House proposal would:
* Redefine obligations regarding the treatment of prisoners as presently defined by the Geneva Conventions, and in particular Common Article 3 which prohibits cruel and degrading treatment of detainees
* Allow trials where defendants would not know the evidence used against them
* Remove federal jurisdiction over detainee lawsuits (including those pending)
The White House draft has drawn widespread criticism from across the political spectrum. Last week, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (Republican-Virginia), as well as committee members Senators John McCain (Republican-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (Republican -South Carolina), and Susan Collins (Republican -Maine), and all 11 Democrats voted for an alternative proposal. Their bill is intended to uphold the Geneva Conventions and would bar conviction of combatants who have not seen the evidence against them.
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