I cannot believe we're even talking about this.
On the key issue of detainee treatment that had caused the impasse between the White House and the dissident Republicans, the two sides agreed on a list of specified crimes that could provoke prosecution of CIA interrogators and others. They also agreed that past violations of the Geneva Conventions, an international treaty barring degrading and humiliating treatment of detainees, would not result in criminal or civil legal action.
The White House, for its part, yielded in its demand to adopt, with congressional approval, a restricted definition of its obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. That article requires humane treatment of detainees and bars "violence to life and person," such as death and mutilation, as well as cruel treatment and "outrages upon personal dignity."
The compromise language gives the president a dominant -- but not exclusive -- role in deciding which interrogation methods are permitted by that provision of the treaty. It also prohibits detainees from using the Geneva Conventions to challenge their imprisonment or seek civil damages for mistreatment, as the administration sought.
The torture provisions, which are staunchly defended by hawks who, for the most part, have not served in the military, are still a mystery.
What methods of torture were being employed by the CIA on terr’r suspects? 495 of the 535 members of Congress, including the Senate can’t tell you. With the recent redefinition of the Geneva Conventions between the President and those "maverick" politicking, stumping, fooling Republican Senators McCain and Frist, which methods were kept, and which ones were dumped? Again, only 40 of our 535 most important national leaders can answer that question. It’s “secret”, as are so many other actions this President and his Administration take behind closed doors.
What is even more disturbing about this whole thing is the fact that in just a couple of days, 495 of our members of the Halls of Congress will be asked to, and most likely will be participating in the vote to finalize this so-called “anti-torture” legislation; the brainchild of President Bush. And they don’t even know what they’re voting for or against, only that the President wants it quite badly; some on the left going as far as to speculate for the self-serving purpose of staying out of prison for war crimes.
The temptation to cave into fear and descend to the level of the terror criminals out there seems to be irresistible to these conservatives.
We fought the Nazis and did not descend to their level. What enemy we have faced since has been more horrible in goals and tactics? The instances of our past, where Americans let fear short-cut American values -- such as the Japanese internment camps and the witch-hunt against American citizens under McCarthy -- have been shameful episodes. Have we learned nothing as a nation?
And yet these Republicans, in their bed-wetting fear, insist on twisting and distorting American values, working contrary to their oaths of office in errant and unconstitutional means to gain intelligence, even though torture does not work.
America is at a crossroads here. George W. Bush took our mandate -- which was largely the world's mandate -- to deal with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and twisted it into a horrific war of choice in Iraq. That's bad enough. We're in a fucking mess there.
But he's not only taking us into imperialist adventurism, but also into the darker depths of base and inhumane behavior. Torture? Do we really need to shred our Constitution in order to be safe, as the Republicans claim?
If they cannot perform their jobs within the framework of the law and the U.S. Constitution, then they should have a chance to resign, then be impeached if they don’t. A lack of creative ideas and the ability to perform critical thinking does not give anybody the right to hover above the law. And that is exactly what these people are trying to do.
It's time America responded with integrity and intelligence, and not easily-goaded rage and stupidity.
It's time, before it's too late.