We are at a crossroads today, and I fear that we will not by judged kindly by future Americans for what my Republican friends want us to do today.
This bill sends a clear message to both our friends and our enemies about what kind of people we are.
It shows them whether or not we are really willing to practice what we preach about freedom, democracy, and human dignity.
It is moments like this one when we reveal our true colors, and our real values.
Sadly, M. Speaker, those watching today will conclude that when the going gets tough, America's leaders are willing abandon our values...
...abandon them in favor of thuggish tactics they hope might make them safer for a little while...
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value."
Those were inspirational words. But here is the reality:
For years, this Administration has circumvented our Constitution in the name of security.
Its officials have dismissed even the most important of our legal documents - such as the Geneva Convention - as being nothing more than "quaint."
This Administration and this Republican Congress have allowed detainees to sit in prison for years without charging them with any crime.
They are willing to deprive people of even the most basic due process rights our country has always afforded those held by the government.
They are willing to convict people of crimes without giving them any opportunity to review the evidence the government is using against them.
They are willing to try and convict people based on unreliable evidence acquired through cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that the rest of the world recognizes as torture.
They are willing to allow government officials to degrade and torment other human beings in ways that the civilized nations agreed to outlaw sixty years ago.
They are even willing to make any new legislation we pass today retroactive, so that past abuses may be forgotten instead of being sincerely addressed.
What this Congress is showing the world today is that we are willing to trade our national birthright for a false and temporary sense of security.
Let me emphasize that: because it is indeed a false sense of security.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Here's Congressperson Louis Slaughter, a Democrat, a patriot, and a New Yorker, on the torture/wiretapping bill: