31 Democrats in Congress Vote For Secret Interrogations

Editor’s note-Jonathan Cook is our newest contributor and I believe this, his first piece, may not have been noticed by many, so I put it back atop the list to be sure others saw it as well.

As the Green Party moves toward the 2010 congressional elections, we should expect most progressives to react with the standard Democratic line of dismissal: “I like what ____ and the Green Party stand for, but they’re just not a credible part of this election.” Of course, credibility in an election is determined by the voters, and if more progressive voters could be convinced to vote for what they actually believe in, rather than what they’ve been duped to believe they must accept in the name of pragmatism, the Green Party and its congressional candidates would be quite credible in many congressional races.

If voters are to consider credibility in an election, we need them to focus on the credibility of ideas first. Voters will be more likely to do so if we can show that Democratic candidates, and the Democratic Party in general, are adopting policy positions that don’t match the Democrats’ progressive promises. In order to accomplish this, we need to become students of the U.S. Congress, keeping close watch on the details of legislative activity on display through the Library of Congress, but rarely reported upon by corporate journalists. Search through the dreck, and you’ll find Democrats in Congress engaging in some truly rotten politics.

For example, last week, 31 Democrats voted against a measure that would prevent torture and other abusive interrogation techniques by requiring the videotaping of all military interrogations, except for tactical interrogations that take place on the battlefield itself, where videotaping equipment is not available. The measure, an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill, was inspired by the Walsh Report issued this January by a Pentagon task force. That task force concluded that video taping interrogations had been successful in civilian law enforcement, would provide more reliable intelligence, and would protect both prisoners and interrogators.

Yet, 31 Democrats in the House of Representatives, listed below, voted against this measure. They followed the right wing argument that any regulation of interrogation is a bad thing that puts us in danger of terrorist attack.

Altmire, Jason
Arcuri, Michael A.
Baird, Brian
Barrow, John
Boren, Dan
Bright, Bobby
Cardoza, Dennis A.
Chandler, Ben
Childers, Travis W.
Costa, Jim
Cuellar, Henry
Davis, Artur
Davis, Lincoln
Dingell, John D.
Donnelly, Joe
Ellsworth, Brad
Gordon, Bart
Griffith, Parker
Holden, Tim
Kilpatrick, Carolyn C.
Kosmas, Suzanne M.
Kratovil, Frank Jr.
Marshall, Jim
Matheson, Jim
Murphy, Christopher S.
Peterson, Collin C.
Ross, Mike
Shuler, Heath
Space, Zachary T.
Taylor, Gene
Teague, Harry

With this one vote, these Democratic U.S. Representatives made themselves vulnerable on many issues to progressive opposition from their own Democratic constituents, as well as from Green Party challengers in 2010. The issues involved include torture, government secrecy, reliable standards of evidence in military tribunals, effective government intelligence, and the dismissal of the military’s own recommendations for reform.

Yet, not one professional journalist has written any article about this legislation, and the 31 Democrats’ votes against it. If the mainstream news media won’t report on antiprogressive Democratic votes like this, how can voters take this behavior into account when they decide how to vote in 2010?

There is an answer to that question: We Greens need to bring them the stories of regressive Democratic acts in Congress that the corporate journalists won’t write about. We can stop accepting the role of victims of the corporate media, and we can challenge it, creating our own media to show why it’s the Democrats, not the Greens, that lack credibility.

It’s this mission that leads me to join the effort here at Green Party Watch, and to offer an independent voice for my own region through Upstate Greens. The elections of 2010 may seem a long time away, but we need to act now to set up the media networks to challenge what surely will be, as before, a roaring silence in the mainstream’s coverage of Green campaigns.

Jonathan Cook


  1. Bravo, Jonathan. Great idea.

    There are a whole host of issues where Democrats have shown their true colors… and there’s nothing progressive about them. Bailouts for billionaires, comparing gay marriage to incest/pedophilia, supporting mountaintop removal, continuing the Bush war on civil liberties, the list could go on. However, I think nothing could shock the progressive conscience more than the recent war funding vote, where the Democratic leadership (both White House and Congressional) strong-armed freshman congresspeople into voting for war funding, with the threat of removing party support for their re-election.

    Another salient point is that 51 House Democrats voted against war funding when the bill was sure to pass, but when it came up again and could have been defeated by just 39 Democrats voting No, only 32 did so. These were not just vulnerable freshmen playing follow-the-leader to save their seats; many are veteran Democrats who pretended to be anti-war to please their constituents, but sided with the war machine when the chips were down.

    Hat tip to David Swanson for keeping score.
    “These Congress members voted No for show when it didn’t matter, and voted Yes to fund wars when it came to crunch time: Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Jerry Costello, Barney Frank, Luis Gutierrez, Jay Inslee, Steve Kagen, Edward Markey, Doris Matsui, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal (MA), James Oberstar, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Edolphus Towns, Nydia Velázquez, and Anthony Weiner. And John Lewis, for one reason or another, did not vote.”

    Too often, even intelligent people judge the Democrats by their nice words, not by their actions. As you said, Jonathan, we need to hold their feet to the fire and prove to the skeptics that the Green Party is America’s only national progressive party.

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