Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Republicans Compromise America's Integrity

As we all hold onto hope that a) the Democrats can muster enough support to kill the President's torture bill, or b) the current congressional session will simply end without it passing, many people are taking a deeper look at how frightening this bill actually is.

Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson looks at what it will do to our Geneva obligations-
Geneva gives no enforceable rights:
(a) IN GENERAL.—No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas or civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States, is a party as a source of rights, in any court of the United States or its States or territories.

Bush gets to define Geneva as he wishes:
(3) INTERPRETATION BY THE PRESIDENT.—(A) As provided by the Constitution and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

A decade of lawbreaking wiped clean:
(2) RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY.—The amendments made by this section, except as specified in paragraph 2441(d)(2)(E) of title 10, United States Code, shall take effect as of November 26, 1997, as if enacted immediately after the amendments made by section 583 of Public Law 105-118 (as amended by section 4002 of Public Law 107-273).

Andrew Sullivan looks at other provisions dealing with who can be apprehended or branded a 'terrorist'. Glenn Greenwald also writes on that provision, noting that "this bill would give the Bush administration the power to imprison people for their entire lives, literally, without so much as charging them with any wrongdoing or giving them any forum in which to contest the accusations against them. It thus vests in the administration the singularly most tyrannical power that exists -- namely, the power unilaterally to decree someone guilty of a crime and to condemn the accused to eternal imprisonment without having even to charge him with a crime, let alone defend the validity of those accusations."

In a related post, Sullivan takes a critical look at the motives of Sen. McCain.

Meanwhile, the Republicans may be 'compromising' some more... on warrantless wiretapping-
Republican leaders said Monday that they had reached a tentative agreement to garner political support for legislation on domestic surveillance, in part by sidestepping the question of whether the president has the constitutional authority to order wiretapping without a court order.

There was wide disagreement about the plan’s impact. Supporters billed the most recent version as a way of requiring a court order for most domestic wiretaps. But civil rights advocates and even some administration officials suggested that it would maintain the status quo in allowing the continuation of wiretapping without warrants under a program approved by President Bush...

But, wait! Encouraging news from the Boston Globe-
Congress is unlikely to approve a bill giving President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program legal status and new restrictions before the November midterm elections, dealing a significant blow to one of the White House's top wartime priorities.

House and Senate versions of the legislation differ too much to bridge the gap by week's end, when Congress recesses until after the Nov. 7 elections, according to two GOP leadership aides who demanded anonymity because the decision had not yet been announced.

Glenn Greenwald has two great posts on this wiretapping issue over at Salon. The first notes that, since the President has refused to fully brief Congress on the program's details, that they are 'voting in the dark' on this important issue. They are, in essence, trying to rubberstamp an illegal wiretapping program without even knowing its details or whether it is even useful. Pretty pathetic Congress we have. He second post is about the fallout if Congress does indeed fall to pass a bill before the recess. He notes that this means that the President will continue to be wiretapping American citizens outside of existing U.S. law and the Constitution. He expresses hope- which I am reluctant to share- that this will force Democrats to finally hold the President accountable for his actions.

And that's where we stand today.

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