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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Credit Where It's Due: Kline Comes Out in Favor of the McCain Anti-Torture Amendment (sort of)

It's been nearly two years since the Abu Ghraib abuses became public. It's been more than two months since John McCain first attached his anti-torture amendment to a defense appropriations bill and received the approval of 90% of the U.S. Senate.

It's been two months since I publicly urged John Kline to champion McCain's amendment through the House to insure it becomes law. I have yet to receive any response personally, but to his credit, John Kline is now taking the right side on the issue. He just isn't voicing his support too loudly.

From the December 13 edition of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press:

U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota's 2nd District, on Monday changed a previous position and endorsed Sen. John McCain's demand that the United States outlaw the use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners.

Kline, a retired Marine Corps colonel from Lakeville who previously had questioned the need for the McCain provision, urged House and Senate negotiators to accept McCain's anti-torture amendment to a defense appropriations bill.

The Bush administration has been trying to keep McCain's amendment out of the bill and to allow CIA agents to use interrogation techniques that military troops may not use.

"The United States has long outlawed the use of torture against any person, regardless of their legal status or geographical location," Kline said in a statement. "Despite such legal precedent, I feel it is important for Congress to reemphasize our anti-torture polices by clarifying strict guidelines for the interrogation and detention of enemy combatants.''

In an interview, Kline said: "I just think we're quibbling around the edges. It's imperative that we be very clear that we don't tolerate torture or degrading conditions."
While I applaud congressman Kline for his change of heart and/or mind, I'm a bit perplexed about the fact that the Pioneer Press cites "an interview", but didn't publish anything more of the interview than a few paragraphs in its Minnesota briefing section.

A Google search reveals no further information about an interview Kline gave on Monday. Kline has nothing posted about it at his congressional website, which apparently hasn't been updated in a month, or his campaign website, which seems not to have been updated since early 2004. A check of the past two weeks of the Congressional Record shows Kline hasn't spoken out in favor of the McCain amendment --- in fact, hasn't mentioned torture at all. So even though Kline is now on the right side of this issue, he seems none too interested in making sure his constituents know about it.

For that reason, I'm a bit skeptical about this conversion, and will keep a close eye on Kline's future actions, especially his floor votes, to see whether his actions match up with his words. But for now, I congratulate him on seemingly deciding that America should still be a civilized nation which does not stoop to engage in barbarism, even when fighting barbarians.

Update: About the time I was writing this post, Kline was matching actions to his words, voting for a nonbinding resolution to instruct the conference committee to include the anti-torture amendment in the final defense bill.

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