September 21, 2006, Dems Played as Usual, Kabuki Complete on Star Chamber/Torture Bill
The Grey Lady and the WaPo give us their accounts of detainee treatment agreements reached between Senators McCain, Warner and Graham, and the White House.
I have a pretty good idea what the bills are about (stripping jurisdiction from federal courts to hear habeas corpus writs, and ostensibly trying to provide the dictatorial tools Cheney wants by Congressional rubber stamping what John Yoo had previously told the President he could do by "unitary executive" fiat)... they are about denying any semblance of a fair trial to terror suspects, they are about wink-winking to torture carried out by the CIA, and mostly, they are about trying to remove judicial oversight from any of this, because the Bush Administration figures it will make some lemonade out of the lemons handed to it by the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case.
As Marty Lederman writes at Balkinization, we will thus be the only country in the world to formally say that the Geneva Conventions are a dead letter: i.e., as a matter of law, no one can enforce any provision of them in our courts (and hence, whether or not we comply is entirely up to executive whim... good luck there, as they say.) Further, as Marty notes, it appears that all of the nasty procedures the CIA wants (standing someone up for days, keeping them in freezing cold cells with minimal clothing, that sort of thing... things that are, you know, torture, though now Congress can go along and tell us otherwise) are authorized by legislation...
The amazing thing is that the Democrats could have shown some backbone, and basically taken a chance at showing some principle, and it would have helped them in November. Instead, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and the gang (pricks) were content to hang their hats on the good will of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. Good move, Chuck. As interviewee after interviewee tells me, it's not as if the Democrats aren't already perceived as soft on national security; the thing is, they are also seen as craven, opportunistic and without principles. And now, without firing a shot, the Democrats have not only reinforced those perceptions, but have helped both McCain and Bush to solidify their own positions (indeed, now that whole October surprise thing might not even be necessary...) And they've helped to legalize torture and star chamber tribunals. In short, way to go.
Our so-called opposition party sits by as our nation legislates itself into pariah state status when they have the votes to stop this bullshit (with a filibuster, if nothing else.) Yeah, yeah... the formal vote on this abomination still has to take place.
But there's no point in false optimism: this deal is done.
It's a God damned good thing we'll likely be dead in 10 or 20 years from global warming and won't have to be around for the full scope of this shitstorm of evil we are unleashing to blow back at us. Because otherwise... I'd really find this codification of our national depravity to be... well, downright depressing.
I've got to hand it to the Democrats. The strategy of allowing the Republicans to "thrash out" their differences on the treatment and prosecution of detainees has played out exactly as planned...for the Republicans. Don't let anyone convince you that you can go to the well too often...that is if you are a Republican and your opponent is a fully inept Democratic Party.
Amidst a trend of favorable polling data and a firestorm of speeches by the President to refocus the voting public on their fear of terrorism, the Democrats stood in the background for the past two weeks and watched what the GOP will call the difficult work of creating legislation that preserves our commitment to civil liberties while at the same time providing our determined President with the essential tools needed to pursue those who seek to kill us all.
OK, perhaps I'm being too harsh. There is a possibility that in the past two weeks the Democrats were able to devise their sixth iteration of a campaign slogan and strategy to roll out with less than 50 days to the election. Perhaps they could call it "Fifty States, Fifty Days...But Never Fifty Percent"? It's catchy, it's succinct, and it may well be accurate come November 8th. Arrgghh!
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Posted by Daniel DiRito at September 22, 2006 12:42 AM
Someday, I will own the Yankees. So laugh now if you must.
Posted by Hugo Chavez at September 22, 2006 9:20 AM
Whenever McCain takes a stand, he backs off so he doesn't step on anyone's toes.
Posted by The Heretik at September 22, 2006 2:21 PM
America: Put a fork in her, she's done!
Posted by Mixter at September 22, 2006 4:15 PM