Someone brave enough to call it like it is: Our Torturer-in-Chief: Until Bush took office, the U.S. had no problem defining what is cruel and inhuman - pdf
If in doubt, take any of the “alternative” methods that Bush wants to use on U.S. detainees and imagine someone using those methods on your son or daughter. If the bad guys captured your son and tossed him, naked, into a cell kept at a temperature just slightly higher than an average refrigerator, then repeatedly doused him with ice water to induce hypothermia, would that be OK? What if they shackled him to a wall for days so he couldn’t sit or lie down without hanging his whole body weight on his arms? What if they threatened to rape and kill his wife, or pretended they were burying him alive? What if they did all these things by turns? Would you have any problem deciding that these methods are cruel?
Behind the antiseptic talk of “alternatives,” “dietary modification” and “stress positions” lie methods designed to break human bodies and human minds. Legally and morally, many of the alternative interrogation methods championed by our president are torture, plain and simple. And there is no doubt at all that they’re cruel, inhuman and degrading
[...] Bush isn’t stupid. He understands that it’s far too late for him to leave a legacy that won’t be a source of shame to future generations. So he’s going for second best: a congressionally delivered “get-out-of-jail-free” card.
Note that this new “compromise” (Republicans Reach Deal on Detainee Bill) will change none of these practices. As the NYTimes says in their editorial, A Bad Bargain:
Here is a way to measure how seriously President Bush was willing to compromise on the military tribunals bill: Less than an hour after an agreement was announced yesterday with three leading Republican senators, the White House was already laying a path to wiggle out of its one real concession.
[...] The deal does next to nothing to stop the president from reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. While the White House agreed to a list of â€œgrave breachesâ€ of the conventions that could be prosecuted as war crimes, it stipulated that the president could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach of the Geneva Conventions and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible. Itâ€™s not clear how much the public will ultimately learn about those decisions. They will be contained in an executive order that is supposed to be made public, but Mr. Hadley reiterated that specific interrogation techniques will remain secret.
Even before the compromises began to emerge, the overall bill prepared by the three senators had fatal flaws. It allows the president to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an â€œillegal enemy combatantâ€ using a dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. It not only fails to deal with the fact that many of the Guantánamo detainees are not terrorists and will never be charged, but it also chokes off any judicial review.
The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. Itâ€™s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nationâ€™s severely damaged reputation.
See also John Dean’s Thoughts on the “Bringing Terrorists to Justice Act of 2006″
Frankly, this proposed legislation is shameful. Even the much-heralded opposition of a few Republicans - Senator John Warner of Virginia, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Senator John McCain of Arizona - does little to correct the many deep flaws in this proposal.
This proposal, however, is going to tell us a great deal about where we are as a nation, for as General Powell said, “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts.” As will amending the war crimes law to absolve prior wrongs, denying detainees “a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples,” and enacting a law that insults the Supreme Court.