Marriage is love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Torture -- One down, One to go

Anyone else get a creepy feeling watching Shrub seemingly surrender to McCain over the torture issue, feeling it all too chummy for a White House known to be sore losers? Anyone else think Shrub looked entirely too happy, confident, and nonchalant to be properly in character?

Well, it's not because he's been hitting the happy juice again -- or at least not entirely why.

After hearing the media treat McCain-Murtha as the end of the torture issue, I grew even more greatly concerned that that would mean there would be no attention given to the way the Graham-Levin amendment to the same bill effectively makes mincemeat of McCain-Murtha.

You see, now that the House has adopted McCain/Murtha's anti-torture language, it unfortunately remains necessary to protect some of our prisoners from the practical gutting of that via the Graham-Levin Amendment. By chipping away at the right of habeas corpus by restricting the ability of detainees at Guantánamo to have an independent court review of the factual basis for their detention, Graham-Levin would seriously undercut the practical effect of the McCain amendment by barring Guantánamo detainees from applying to any court of law for relief from torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and permitting the government to use evidence in court that has been obtained through the use of abusive practices, thus creating perverse incentives for our government to continue to engage in the very misconduct that gave rise to the McCain amendment.

In short, making it impossible for the victims of such practices to present their claims before an impartial judge would make the McCain/Murtha victory a Pyrrhic one.

What this country needs is more serious study of these issues. Instead of being subjected to another Sunday morning hour of Condi Rice, another of Shrub's spying-on-Americans-co-conspirators, claiming that post-9/11, we're in a wholly new, never-been-faced-by-America-before threat situation, our populace needs to hear our legal history in dealing with the concerns raised by enemy combatants -- particularly that we've dealt with this before -- from the Revolution onward -- without having to compromise our basic principles.

Would that our people were widely aware, for instance, that Washington opposed many of the excesses of his opponents in the Revolution when it came to treatment even of hired mercenaries (who before that had been considered not even subject to the small limits on prisoner treatment afforded declared enemies in those days) or that Lincoln faced the same dilemma with the Confederates of not wanting to accord them legitimacy that we face with al Qa'ida yet he relied upon the foundational work of the Lieber-code (aka "Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field," which President Lincoln approved on April 24, 1863 as General Orders No. 100).

Would that they understood what Lincoln did, that the exercise of humanity moves us forward so that they would have no fears of quashing the excesses of a president who relies instead on the twisted illogic of Yoo and Gonzales.

Even if our whole populace has missed this bit of essential education, our Congress should not before voting on it. Thus I call on all to insist that Congress -- particularly the Senate -- vote for and do everything in its power to remove the Graham-Levin from any bill that's moved beyond committee and see instead that it is assigned to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees so that it can be given the careful consideration that such a fundamental change in the law deserves.