Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bush the torturer

It's now clear. President Bush supports torture, he enables torture, and he is, by extension, a torturer himself. These three posts are must-reads, particularly the first:

Marty Lederman: "In his impassioned press conference yesterday, the President acknowledged that the Hamdan decision, by clarifying that Common Article 3 applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda, had rendered the CIA's 'program' of 'alternative' interrogation techniques unlawful, and that unless the Administration's bill is enacted, 'the program' cannot lawfully continue... If the President sincerely wanted 'clarity' and 'definite standards' for the CIA as well, as he professes, that would be quite a simple thing to accomplish: Akin to what the Pentagon has recently done in the Army Field Manual, Congress could simply specify in the statute that waterboarding, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and threats are categorically forbidden. What are the odds the White House would accede to such 'clarity'?"

Extemely high. Don't bet on it.

Bradford Plumer: "In reality, McCain, Graham, and Warner are pushing a bill in the Senate that somewhat curtails Bush's power. But it still gives him, say, 80 percent of what he wants. And what he wants is appalling. The GOP bill would strip habeas corpus rights for any alien who has been 'properly detained as an enemy combatant' (even detainees, hilzoy reminds us, who aren't actually threats) and eliminate their right to challenge their detention in court. Even if they're innocent, as detainees commonly are. It would also weaken the definition of 'war crimes,' making only 'grave breach[es]' of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention a no-no, rather than any violation whatsoever."

Appalling indeed. At least these three Republican senators are doing something, even if that something isn't nearly enough. I reiterate my argument that we need, now more than ever, a Democratic Congress.

Andrew Sullivan: "This is why McCain, Warner, Graham, Powell and every decent, sane conservative with military experience refuse to give in [but see Plumer's argument above]. There is already clarity in the law, the Geneva Convention, and the McCain Amendment. What the Bush administration wants is to introduce vagueness to get away with exactly the same barabarism they have deploying illegally for the past five years. They must be stopped. And eventually, they must be prosecuted for war crimes."


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