The U.S. Senate has just approved the Bush administration's Military Commissions Act of 2006, granting the executive branch broad authority to abuse detainees as it sees fit while simultaneously denying those same detainees the right to see the evidence against them or to challenge their confinement in federal court.
The vote was 65-34. Twelve Democrats voted for the measure: Tom Carper, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, Frank Lautenberg, Joe Lieberman, Robert Menendez, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar and Debbie Stabenow. One Republican, Lincoln Chafee, voted no.
Perhaps the Democrats who voted in favor of the bill really do believe that it's critically important to let interrogators rough up their subjects and to deny detainees the writ of habeas corpus -- so important that it's worth undercutting America's moral high ground in the war on terror and inviting other countries to treat our citizens just as badly as we'd apparently like to treat theirs. If that's what they believe -- all history and law and experience and good sense notwithstanding -- then they were right to say "yea" when the clerk called their names.
But if the Torture Twelve think that today's vote is going to buy them some kind of free pass from the GOP's soft-on-terror claims, they'd better be prepared to be disappointed -- again. Even as the Senate moved toward its vote today, the president was attacking the Democrats -- all Democrats -- at a political fundraiser in Alabama. "Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on the American homeland in our history, Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second-guessing," Bush said. "The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run."
Yes, it has. Just not in the way that he meant it.