Magazine article The Christian Century

Despite Church Pleas, Bush Vetoes Bill to Ban Harsh Interrogation

Magazine article The Christian Century

Despite Church Pleas, Bush Vetoes Bill to Ban Harsh Interrogation

Article excerpt

Calling tough interrogation methods a "valuable tool" in the war on terrorism, President Bush last month vetoed a bill to outlaw waterboarding in a rebuke to congressional Democrats and mainstream church leaders, including signers of a "United Methodists Do Not Torture" petition.

In his radio address March 8, Bush said, "Al-Qaeda remains determined to attack America again." He added that forcing captives to talk is critical, since "the best source of information about terrorist attacks is the terrorists themselves."

Democrats and civil libertarians said that the U.S. should not use inhumane techniques such as waterboarding, in which the subjects think they are drowning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) cited statements by dozens of current and former U.S. military officials criticizing such harsh tactics.

More than 1,000 people signed the Methodist petition, launched February 20, urging Bush to sign the Intelligence Authorization Act, which last year passed the House and Senate and would have prohibited using torture against prisoners.

Though torture is used in many countries, the U.S. limits its ability to speak against such practices unless the country itself abolishes their use, said Bill Mefford, staff member of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Bush is a member of the denomination but has shown little or no signs of acknowledging the UMC social stances and pleas for action, say observers in Washington.

Addressing a friendly audience March 11 in Nashville, Bush gave a lengthy defense of his war policy in Iraq and Afghanistan to the National Religious Broadcasters. …

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