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Sen Barack Obama Reacts to US Bill Approving Torture

Human Rights Should Be Bigger than Politics

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The problem is that the structure of the military proceedings has been poorly thought through.

Indeed, the regulations that are supposed to be governing administrative hearings for these detainees, which should have been issued months ago, still haven't been issued.

Instead, we have rushed through a bill that stands a good chance of being challenged once again in the Supreme Court.

This is NOT how a serious Administration would approach the problem of terrorism.

I know the President came here today and was insisting that this is supposed to be our primary concern. He's absolutely right it should be our primary concern - which is why we should be approaching this with a somberness and seriousness that this Administration has not displayed with this legislation.

Now, let me be clear - for those who plot terror against the United States, I hope God has mercy on their soul, because I certainly do not. And for those who our government suspects of terror, I support whatever tools are necessary to try them and uncover their plot.

US Has Detained Innocents

But we also know that some have been detained who have no connection to terror whatsoever.

We've already had reports from the CIA and various generals over the last few years saying that many of the detainees at Guantanamo shouldn't have been there - as one U.S. commander of Guantanamo told the Wall Street Journal, "Sometimes, we just didn't get the right folks."

And we all know about the recent case of the Canadian man who was suspected of terrorist connections, detained in New York, sent to Syria, and tortured, only to find out later that it was all a case of mistaken identity and poor information.

In the future, people like this may never have a chance to prove their innocence. They may remain locked away forever.

Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary

And the sad part about all of this is that this betrayal of American values is unnecessary.

We could've drafted a bipartisan, well-structured bill that provided adequate due process through the military courts, had an effective review process that would've prevented frivolous lawsuits being filed and kept lawyers from clogging our courts, but upheld the basic ideals that have made this country great.

Instead, what we have is a flawed document that in fact betrays the best instincts of some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle - those who worked in a bipartisan fashion in the Armed Services Committee to craft a bill that we could have been proud of.

And they essentially got steamrolled by this Administration and by the imperatives of November 7th.

That is not how we should be doing business in the U.S. Senate, and that's not how we should be prosecuting this war on terrorism.

When we're sloppy and cut corners, we are undermining those very virtues of America that will lead us to success in winning this war. At bare minimum, I hope we can at least pass this provision so that cooler heads can prevail after the silly season of politics is over.

Thank you.

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