Following in the footsteps of the House, the Senate this afternoon approved the bill which vests in the President the power of indefinite, unreviewable detention (even of U.S. citizens) and which also legalizes various torture techniques. It is not hyperbole to say that this is one of the most tyrannical and dangerous bills to be enacted in our nation's history.
The final Senate vote was 65-34. The Democrats lacked the votes for a filibuster and therefore did not attempt one. Twelve (out of 44) Senate Democrats voted in favor of this bill, while only one Republican (Chafee) voted against it. The dishonorable list of Democrats voting for the bill: Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich).
One can look at the Democrats' conduct here in one of two ways. On the one hand, it is true that the Democrats disappeared from the debate until today, all but hiding behind John McCain in the futile hope that he would remain steadfast in his opposition to the White House. Once the Democrats designated McCain as the Noble and Wise Torture Expert who spoke on their behalf, it became very difficult for them to oppose the "compromise" bill whereby McCain predictably capitulated and gave the Bush administration virtually everything it wanted. Democrats painted themselves into this corner by failing forcefully to advocate their own position against torture and indefinite detention.
Nonetheless, it is simply a fact that virtually every Republican in the House and the Senate (with one sole exception in the Senate and only 7 in the House) voted in favor of this tyrannical bill, while Democrats overwhelmingly opposed it (in the House, 160 Democrats voted "no," while 34 voted "yes"). With those facts assembled, it is fair to say that the Republicans are the party of torture, indefinite and unreviewable detention powers, and limitless presidential power, even over U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. By contrast, Democrats have largely opposed these tyrannical, un-American and truly dangerous measures. Even if Democrats didn't oppose them as vociferously as they could have and should have -- and that is plainly the case -- this is still a meaningful and, at this point in our country's history, a critically important contrast.