Friday, September 22, 2006

A compromise made in hell.

As I suspected, the fix is in with this "compromise" the McCain-3 has come to with the administration on detainee rights. Although, W. didn't get his tribunal rules as written and he doesn't get to gut Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Senate bill gets around the little problem of the Conventions by reworking the War Crimes Act instead. By enumerating which interrogation methods could be prosecuted under the Act -- death; mutilation; rape; hostage taking etc. -- anything short of those is fair now fair game. W. get's to "interpret 'the meaning and application' of the relevant provisions in Common Article 3," according to the WaPo.

The real sticking point for the supossed Senate "dissidents," the WaPo says, was not letting W. "appear to be reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions." Then once that was understood, they proceeded to negotiate some weasel wordage such as "serious and non-transitory mental harm, which need not be prolonged," for the length of interogations. W.'s henchmen wanted the language to read that the War Crimes Act would bar "severe" harm to suspects but the Senators got the word "serious" in its place.

Don't worry, though, the new law would require W. to publish the rules he comes up with in the Federal Register. (I can already see W.'s pen crossing out that particular constitutionally questionable provision in a signing statement.)

The McCain -3 have basically left everything pretty much as it was before this all came to a head, except for rejiggering slightly what W. wanted by giving detainees the right to see a summary of the secret evidence against them and only allowing testimony gained through coercion if it's deemed "probative" by a tribunal judge.

The issue of taking away the right of Habeas Corpus for detainees is still in the bill, but this may yet be in play as even some House Republicans are moving away from the Bush position on this. The Graham/Levin push seeking to not only prevent detainees from using the Habeas Corpus petitions in the future, but also wiping out all cases pending, is a particularly loathsome aspect of this bill. There are people being held in Gitmo who will have no legal recourse to challenge their detentions -- ever. Ironically, the al-Qaeda big shots will be given more protections if the law passes as it currently reads. Of course, if this portion of the bill gets in, you can be sure it will be challenged in the courts. That is, though, if McCain & Co. haven't already legislated the courts out of the process, which is yet to be seen.

All in all, I'd say this entire process has been a big disappointment to all us who were hoping that the Congress would finally stand up to W. and his march toward autocracy. The Democrats don't come out of this looking any better than the Republicans either. The only Democrat really involved in this whole process has been Carl Levin and he's on their side. His work with Lindsay Graham on undermining the fundamental legal protections of Habeas Corpus will be coming back to haunt all Americans sooner or later. When you start chipping away at something that basic, you're really on a slippery slope.

And what does the democratic Senate leader Harry Reid have to say about this shameful back down: "It is time to make the tough decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve." Wow, that's really standing up for you principles! Just trust in John McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Warner to do what's right and keep your head down. That's a strategy for victory.


Post a Comment

<< Home

hit counter script Top Blog Lists Favourite Blogs Top List
My Zimbio
Top Stories