Go read. It’s worse than you think.
The Senate just killed an amendment to ensure federal courts could review the legitimacy of individual’s imprisonment on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
Why do we need an amendment? Because the bill in question is that bad. Not that anyone noticed; it went down on party lines, with even “Maverick” McCain voting against it.
Kerry‘s had something to say about it, too:
We’ve got to tell the truth about what’s happening right now — right now — in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn’t limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn’t get it. Still. Right now — today — they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.
Let me be clear about something-something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.
The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they’ve already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.
Oh, and it gets worse. From the LA Times:
BURIED IN THE complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.
This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops “during an armed conflict,” it also allows him to seize anybody who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.
Glenn Greenwald has more:
There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny — one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent.
Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to Thomas Paine, 1789. ME 7:408, Papers 15:269, said: “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” And Patrick Henry warned us well in advance about Government officials who would seek to claim the right to imprison people without a trial:
Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings–give us that precious jewel, and you may take everything else! …Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.
Bush will sign this bill without a thought of what he’s doing, which is, in essence, undoing 800 years of legal tradition.
If you voted for any of these GOP weasels, well, fuck you. If you’re a senator opposed to this and didn’t try to mount a filibuster, fuck you, too. And if you don’t care about this law and its implications, well, fuck you twice. We are now officially a nation of shitheads. It’s Rob’s phrase, but we believe it.
Seriously. How long do you think it’ll be before someone politically inconvenient to the current regime is disappeared? An investigative journalist? A pro-choice activist? An environmentalist? It’ll be legal, under this law — Bush can declare someone an “enemy combatant” and keep them wherever he likes. It’s a complete end run around separation of powers, and that’s precisely what this imperial President wanted.