What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Punishment Fitting the Crime : Full Senate vote on a Democratic amendment, offered to a bill to authorize Defense Department spending for FY05 (S. 2400), to compel Attorney General John Ashcroft to hand over all documents related to the treatment and interrogation of detainees held in U.S. custody.
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Full Senate vote on a Democratic amendment, offered to a bill to authorize Defense Department spending for FY05 (S. 2400), to compel Attorney General John Ashcroft to hand over all documents related to the treatment and interrogation of detainees held in U.S. custody.
senate Roll Call 144     Jun 23, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Spurred by the revelation of recent abuses of Iraqi and other foreign prisoners at the hands of American soldiers and contractors, Sen. Patrick Leahy (R-Vt.), in the course of Senate debate over a bill to authorize Defense Department spending for FY05 (S. 2400), offered an amendment to compel Attorney General John Ashcroft to hand over all documents related to the treatment and interrogation of detainees held in U.S. custody. The amendment, backed by Senate progressives, failed 46-50. Leahy's proposal was considered a "second-degree" amendment because he offered it as an add on to an underlying amendment (No. 3387) he had proposed earlier in the debate to guarantee the humane treatment of foreign prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The underlying amendment was eventually approved by the full Senate, after the second-degree amendment was defeated. Proponents of Leahy's second degree amendment, which was cosponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), argued that the information regarding interrogation tactics should be provided to Congress so it can perform its role to legislate and conduct oversight. It is especially crucial, amendment supporters said, as there has been mounting evidence that high-ranking members of the Bush Administration authorized the use of interrogation tactics that violate longstanding U.S. treaty obligations. Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), taking up the administration's defense, accused backers of the amendment of trying to scapegoat Ashcroft, saying the Justice Department already has been forthcoming with the Congress, but that the Democrats are making unrealistic requests including a "laundry list of document requests so broad that it could take a year to search the files." conservative critics of the Leahy language also argued the Justice Department was not in a position to release the documents without further consultation within the administration, including the White House and the Defense Department. Conservatives said it would be imprudent during time of war to declassify the documents, since some of them reveal potential interrogation techniques.

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