Sen. Maria Cantwell was one of 34 US Senators to vote against a detainee bill that suspends habeas corpus and grants President Bush the power to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions as he sees fit. Here is her statement on her vote:
“We must win the war on terrorism by being smarter and tougher, and by passing legislation that makes our troops more secure. I believe the bill passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month met this test. The legislation voted on tonight still has critical flaws.
“The legislation voted on by the full Senate will permit the Bush Administration to undermine the Geneva Conventions, broadly expand the definition of enemy combatants, allow for coerced and secret evidence and abandon habeus corpus. For more than three years, our ability to try terrorists has been hampered by the Administration’s refusal to abide by U.S. law. The provisions in this legislation may be once again deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, only further delaying our goal of bringing the terrorists to justice.
“Short-term political goals should never come ahead of America’s long-term success in the war on terror.”
Meanwhile, Republican challenger Mike McGavick says he would have voted for the bill:
“Very simply, this legislation is a necessary piece of the long term struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. Our security depends on our military and intelligence communities possessing intelligence gathering tools, and we are in need of a system to try our terrorist enemies.”
On both moral and pragmatic grounds, Sen. Cantwell defends the basic right to habeas corpus, and opposes the use of torture. McGavick disagrees.
Sometimes, politicians are faced with simple choices. And sometimes, so are voters.