America is free to torture

The very worst -case scenario has come true, and one blogger had it all figured out in advance. Digby has the best post out there on how Bush and the “Gang of Four” Republicans who opposed his amendments to the war crimes act actually worked in concert, making Bush look good beyond words. Not only is he “tough” on terrorists, but he has the patience and diplomatic skills to work with “the opposition” to craft a wise and reasonable “compromise.” Except, as Diby shows, there is no compromise, there was no real opposition and Bush gets absolutely everything he wanted and more.

And by forcing the Congress to vote on it shortly before the elections, it becomes a litmus test of whether you are loyal to America. This is political cynicism at its very best, and it is a brilliant example of how Bush-Rove stage-manage elaborate stunts to create a powerful image, whether it’s on an aircraft carrier or the Senate floor. Republicans – strong, virile and reasonable. Democrats – cowardly, disorganized, weak. Sure, we all know it’s a trick, an illusion. But it makes me increasingly terrified that the GOP is about to make a sensational comeback and hold onto the House. In fact, until I’m convinced otherwise, until I see the Dems take back the microphone and start getting their own messages out, I am officially predicting a Republican upset. They will win in November. Not across the board, but they’ll do far better than any of us expected. Go read the Digby post to see just how beautifully they played the media on this. Appearances. They’re all that matter. Republicans have raised “positioning” to a high art form, while the Dems still don’t get it.

And now, we have to face the sad fact that we have officially sanctioned torture, and will protect Americans who carry it out.

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.

Once again, Bush pulls off a coup. And once again, America becomes in the eyes of the world a far different nation than it was a few short years ago. A smaller nation, a more petty and paranoid nation. We keep slipping from bad to worse, and one can only wonder where we we’ll finally end up. Grim. A grim day for all of us, and a chilling reminder of the legalized thuggery for which the Bush administration stands.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

Why was I not consulted?

I sanction nothing

except of course the impeachment of GWB

Forgive us world, while we deal with this plague we call “Bush” republicans

September 23, 2006 @ 12:20 am | Comment

I was feeling equally wretched about this…but on my way to work I heard an interview with Jane Harman – my Congresswoman – a pretty conservative Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. I didn’t like everything she had to say but I liked a lot of it. The gist was, no Democrat has seen the bill, this thing isn’t passing without extensive clarification, including, just what “techniques” are we talking about and why are such “techniques” even necessary (she was very insistent on these points). And also that the bill requires Congressional oversight, that this president in particular(due to his track record) will not be able to just redefine Article 3 by his own interpretation. But she put a particular emphasis on “why do we even need to do these things?” and also, that she did not see it as a blank check to cover all past behavior. She said that it was this Administration’s own fault that they and their operatives had put themselves in a position of legal ambiguity by not asking for Congressional oversight/clarification in the first place.

She sounded very straight-forward and very clear on these points. I hope she means it.

September 23, 2006 @ 2:42 am | Comment

See a tongue-in-cheek visual of the Grand Opening of “Tortureland”…here:

September 23, 2006 @ 5:33 am | Comment

Richard, I think it’s important to remember that this is not a done deal – the full Senate hasn’t seen the bill (no Democrats have seen the bill), it is still to be debated and voted upon. So America is not “free to torture.” Yet.

WRite your Senators, your representatives, your newspapers.

September 23, 2006 @ 6:54 am | Comment

I don’t know if I feel like putting my American urban-dwelling life on the line for the sake of my moral vanity… I’m going to take a look at this bill before I pass judgement. Any Clintonian compromise good enough for McCain is likely to be good enough for me, though.

September 23, 2006 @ 8:35 am | Comment

I just came across your blog and have to say it’s quite intriguing. There’s so much to learn from others around the world, and as long as we keep “talking” about these issues, there’s the chance that we can change things.

September 23, 2006 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

I just came across your blog and have to say it’s quite intriguing. There’s so much to learn from others around the world, and as long as we keep “talking” about these issues, there’s the chance that we can change things.

September 23, 2006 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

I have a question: since the U.S. is detaining other countries (allies) citizens (Maher Arar) without informing them, has air marshals filling quotas on “suspicious persons” to plug into a central database, sanctioning torture, suspending habeas corpus for victims of mistaken identity, refusing to explain to the judiciary the very rules and evidence that people are being prosecuted under due to “national security”, massively eavesdropping on communication in and out of the country, leaving citizens in limbo in Pakistan and arresting journalists (Greg Palast) because they photographed the wrong building (oil refinery), using ideological terms like “democracy” and “facism” to simply denote “our side” and “the enemy”, instead of forms of government, etc. etc. etc.

at what point is it acceptable to make U.S. China comparisons? There’s alot of differences but I think the similarities are growing too great – and illustrate precisely where the slippery slope leads.

September 23, 2006 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

To see where this is going, remember that since 2001, every expanded power that Congress has granted has been used against ordinary citizens charged with normal crimes.

September 24, 2006 @ 1:18 am | Comment

Again Richard, you’re illustrating why I left the U.S. and moved to Australia. Fascism, mate. It’s fascistic here too, but only with a small “f”…

September 26, 2006 @ 12:49 am | Comment

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