Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Congressman is Peter Defazio... and he rocks.

I emailed Congressman Peter Defazio a couple of weeks ago regarding the prisoner abuse issue. To be honest, Representative Defazio is a very busy man and I thought if I were to recieve a reply from him it would be a generic form letter type response. Today I recieved the reply posted below, and I must say I am just so impressed and proud of Mr. Defazio. He took the time to give a full and detailed response. Here is his reply:

Thanks for your message. Impeachment is an inherently political process, despite its legal overtones. Therefore, given unified Republican control there is zero chance that articles of impeachment will ever go anywhere; even if it could be proven that the president authorized abusive detention practices.

That said, when the House of Representatives considered H.R. 1268, the President's $82 billion spending package to fund the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, I supported an amendment offered by Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) to restrict the use of torture. The Markey amendment prohibits any money in the bill from being used to violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This prohibition was included in Section 1031 of the final version of H.R. 1268.

I am also a cosponsor of a resolution by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), H.R. 3003, to create an independent commission to investigate detainee abuse. To date, more than 170 Members of Congress have cosponsored this bill.

In addition, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act to restrict the techniques that can be used during interrogations. The McCain amendment was recently approved by the Senate by a vote of 90-9. Despite the overwhelming vote, the President has threatened to veto the bill if the McCain provision is included in the final version of the bill. I expect that the House Republican leadership will do what they can to keep the McCain amendment from being included.

However, I hope that it is kept in the final bill. As Senator McCain said recently, "The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don't deserve our sympathy. But this isn't about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies."

You may be interested to know that I called for the architects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- most notably Secretary Rumsfeld -- to be removed from office more than a year ago for their failure to have a realistic plan for post-war Iraq and the lies regarding weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda. Their tacit, and in some cases explicit, endorsement of abusive detention policies is just one more reason these individuals should resign or be fired.

I am also a cosponsor of legislation, H.R. 112, intended to help prevent future incidents of torture. This legislation would (1) require videotaping of interrogations and other pertinent contact between U.S. military personnel and/or private contractors, and detainees held in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere, and (2) provide unfettered access to detainees by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture for independent monitoring of detainee treatment and conditions. This bill is supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the ACLU. In addition, even the Army's own Inspector General has indicated support, in principle, for videotaping interrogations.

Public criticism, independent investigation, and punishment of those responsible for establishing and implementing these policies may help restore credibility in U.S. efforts to promote human rights around the world, not to mention the important message it would send about how free societies are supposed to operate.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me. Please keep in touch.

Rep.Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON

"there is zero chance that articles of impeachment will ever go anywhere; even if it could be proven that the president authorized abusive detention practices."

I told you so.
Of course, being a socialist, DeFazio blames the Republicans.
If you reply, please comment on the meaning of "ever" and "even if".
I see you left out the qualifier given by Congressman Defazio, Jeff. The quote you refer to out of context starts with: "Impeachment is an inherently political process, despite its legal overtones. Therefore, given unified Republican control there is zero chance that articles of impeachment will ever go anywhere;"

Congressman Defazio's statement obviously does not apply if the Repubs do not control the political process.

I wish I had saved my original mail to the congressman. Then the statement "even if it could be proven" that the president approved torture would be more clear. In it, I asked him to research the FBI memo that describes a presidential order that ok'd prisoner abuse in Gitmo. There is no other record of this order. I thought if it could be proven that the president directly ordered abuse that that could be actionable against the president directly. Everything so far points to high level administration involvement directly to the office of the veep himself but there was yet to be shown direct evidence that the president himself authorized this directly when I wrote the original email.

2 more issues to address regarding your post Jeff. Why is it that you call people who don't agree with you to the left "socialist"? I mean you will not find one utterance on this blog where in I call president Bush a fascist or Nazi. It seems to me that you are trying to provoke those who may read this who do not agree with you, but your charge is essentially baseless. In this case you threw the charge out there in a matter that essentially does not have any economic implications.

#2. You seem to conclude the congressmans statement "even if it could be proven" is somehow exculpatory of the president. Read what he is actually saying. He concludes EVEN IF it is proven the president is directly involved, Republicans would not move impeachment. That is not to excuse the president, it is to condemn the Republicans. Even if it is proven their leader allowed prisoner torture they will not punish him. Of course this is the fault of Republicans. Republicans in the administration started us down this road of detainee abuse. And I would argue that it is Republicans that will correct this administration. As Congressman Defazio carefully points out (repeatedly) the initiatives that will stop this are bipartisan in nature. The needed correction could not be undertaken without Republican support in the congress.
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