In a Rush to Make Things Worse
While some of us were teeing it up for a round of early fall golf, or watching our kids play football, the triumvirate of McCain, Graham and that other guy who was married to Liz Taylor, were off chipping more corners off their deal with the White House.
While some of us were teeing it up for a round of early fall golf, or watching our kids play football, the triumvirate of McCain, Graham and that other guy who was married to Liz Taylor, were off chipping more corners off their deal with the White House. It seems they had not sufficiently caved on principle and more was asked by their president.
They gave. No matter that they’d already given at the office, they stood up proudly and kicked in the last of what honor remained after last week’s capitulation. Last week was supposed to be as bad as it gets, but hey, this is Washington six weeks before mid-terms.
It’s campaign season. Everyone wants to close up the Senate and go home to wow the voters with gilded opinions of themselves. Who can really blame them, poor dears—they’re scared witless (or something that rhymes with witless).
So, all the brass bands and heroic talk that accompanied these ‘three independent Republicans’ in their shootout with Dick Cheney (and a president whose shoes barely showed under Cheney’s draperies) have come to naught. At least naught for the country. It was a big win for torturers, encouragers of torturers and those who turned a blind eye to torture.
No matter that it was their duty (and sworn determination) to prevent torture. This is not about duty, it’s about the big guns in the administration (perhaps even the biggest gun) getting called up before a trial judge.
That old ‘we can’t make the evidence available because it’s classified’ argument that Scooter Libby depends upon isn’t safe enough under the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ section of impeachment law.
So, amid the furor that already attended their cave-in to the White House, the three shamed Senators slunk back in over the weekend to further soil themselves—this time expanding the net of foreign nationals to detain without charges.
How wide a net? How about the whole world?
Unless Harry Reid's Democrats filibuster this outrage (which they surely haven’t the courage to do), the law as renegotiated will read in such a way that Cheney-Bush et al can cherry-pick anyone they damned well please from anywhere they damned well want. A 2am kidnapping in London? No problem.
Just name the kidnappee as a terrorist, or suspected of having once known someone who turned out to be the shirt-launderer to a guy whose cousin was a terrorist and you’re home free. Not to worry about habeas corpus or any similar embarrassments.
No appearance before a judge
No charges to bring (charges are from now on, state secrets, just like in dictatorships)
No advice of the arrest to another human soul in the world
No limit to the length of detention
And, the best part of all—
Those held by the CIA or the U.S. military as an unlawful enemy combatant would be barred from challenging their detention or the conditions of their treatment in U.S. courts unless they were first tried, convicted and appealed their conviction.
So, 1) presuming you are innocent of charges that were never explained to you and 2) presuming you were plucked from your innocent life and held for months or (more probably) years and 3) presuming you’d been mistreated, perhaps even tortured; then when (and if) you were ever let go, you would have no recourse.
Welcome to the new, improved, low-calorie America.
Couldn’t happen? Happened to a German citizen the CIA wrongly accused. Happened to a Canadian as well. Those are only the ones we know about.
According to a Washington Post article,
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) yesterday assailed the provision as an unconstitutional suspension of habeas corpus, which he said was allowable only "in time of rebellion or in time of invasion. And neither is present here."
He was joined by the committee's senior Democrat, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), who said that under the provision, legal U.S. immigrants could be held "until proven innocent, not until proven guilty."
The week is winding down and the weak are winding up their scurrilous business prior to going home to campaign.
This president knows precisely when and how to put the fire to the feet of the weakest and most partisan Congress the country has yet seen. The first bubble of resistance in his party has been pricked and now the pricks are off to reelection.
Democrats, their feet blistered and their courage non-existant, will no doubt allow the twin travesties of bills on detention and wire-tapping to pass in the Congress before their glazed eyes.
No pain, no gain is true of politics as well as sports training.
If Democrat members of the Senate allow this mockery to pass into law, then they will have abrogated any claim to ‘a change of course’ for the nation in the mid-terms as well as the 2008 general election.
We know the price of this Republican administration has been shouldering aside American rights in the name of fear. It has become increasingly clear that the cost of Democratic control in the legislative branch will be indecision and the worst kind of bumping into partisan furniture.
You’ve got one shot, ladies and gents—three days left to find both a spine and a platform to run on.
Democrats have folded under pressure time and time again. It's been their only consistent point of agreement. Who in their right mind would agree to turn over the destiny of the nation (presuming these bills pass) to such wavering incompetence?
Other writing on the subject;