Some people have asked me why mediagirl.org has gone to black. It is in mourning and concern for our Constitution, which the President has railed against as an obstacle to his pursuit of power....
...because now the Republicans have done gone along with him:
"In this new era of threats, where the stark and sober reality is that America must confront international terrorists committed to the destruction of our way of life, this bill is absolutely necessary," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
The overall bill would prohibit war crimes and define such atrocities as rape and torture but otherwise would allow the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, the treaty that sets standards for the treatment of war prisoners.
The bill on interrogations and trials also would eliminate some rights common in military and civilian courts.
So President Bush gets to decide (a) who's a terrorist, (b) who therefore has no Constitutional rights, (c) what does or doesn't consititute torture of this alleged terrorist ... and if lines are crossed, nobody can be prosecuted.
The bill strips habeus corpus for any suspect labeled by the executive branch as an "enemy combatant":
The measure would broaden the definition of enemy combatants beyond the traditional definition used in wartime, to include noncitizens living legally in the United States as well as those in foreign countries and anyone determined to be an enemy combatant under criteria defined by the president or secretary of defense.
It would strip at Guantánamo detainees of the habeas right to challenge their detention in court, relying instead on procedures known as combatant status review trials. Those trials have looser rules of evidence than the courts.
Some Democrats cravenly voted in favor of giving the Executive Branch authoritarian police state powers, believing it would help them get re-elected:
"It's time for terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to face justice," Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, said, projecting a tough-on-terrorism position and sounding very much like Republicans who are gunning for his House seat Nov. 7.
The Texan is among the Democrats in hard-fought races who sided with Bush and Republicans.
AP reporter Liz Sidoti seems to want to help advance the Republican spin.
"They are voting in line with what they perceive to be the views of a majority of their constituencies on this issue," said Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist.
He suggested that these Democrats cast their votes not because of this election year but because of the next few, saying: "They're just trying to avoid trouble in the future."
The several Senate Democrats considering running for president in 2008 may not be so lucky. All of them voted against the measure — and those votes could leave them vulnerable to Republican attacks beyond November.
Of course, endorsing torture in deed, if not in name, may not be a wise political move, either. There are still some people in this country who believe in American values, and not American might-makes-right.