Not that this is a surprise; the formerly principled Arizona republican — who is sitting in Barry Goldwater’s seat, no less — has his nose so far up GWB’s ass he can tell what he’s having for lunch. As a consequence, his supposed resistance to allowing the Bush administration to detain and torture suspects with no legal recourse or grounds has evaporated like, well, a kidnapped Canadian sent to Syria.
The “compromise” arrived at by the Senate and White House basically allows the executive branch to do as it pleases and disregard Geneva more or less at will. Habeas corpus won’t even enter into it because — you guessed it — Bush’s folks will still get to decide when that applies. We’re now the first nation on earth to legally authorize violations of the Geneva convention. Congratulations.
There is nothing in this bill that President Thumbscrews can’t ignore. There is nothing in this bill that reins in his feckless and dangerous reinterpretation of the powers of his office. There is nothing in this bill that requires him to take it — or its congressional authors — seriously. Two weeks ago, John Yoo set down in The New York Times the precise philosophical basis on which the administration will sign this bill and then ignore it. The president will decide what a “lesser breach” of the Geneva Conventions is? How can anyone over the age of five give this president that power?
Also, from the Washington Post, quoted at Whisky Bar (go read his contrasting quote, too):
The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation.
Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
If you think this is a good idea, just imagine what would happen if you or someone you love ended up on the wrong side of these provisions. It does happen. That’s why we have due process, and why we have a real court system. Bush & co. seem content to dismantle all that in the name of Fightin’ Terra, but those who support him would do well to recall that governments rarely give back power once the people have ceded it. Even if you think this is a good idea now, we can guarantee we’ll see these provisions applied in ways you won’t be so happy about within a very few years.