news of a detainee compromise bill started rumbling off of Capitol
Hill, I was a bit suspicious that none of the media coverage contained
even the slightest bit of detail about how the new legislation would
deal with the major problems inherent in our current system of
torturing them until they give us what we want. As the days have
unfolded, Ive read the daily paper anxious for more information, and
been both surprised and alarmed that there wasnt any. So when the U.S.
House of Representatives approved the legislation yesterday, I was
intrinsicly hopeful that perhaps they had details that
sufficiently put to rest fears that wed continue crapping all over the
Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, and any other half-moral
set of guidelines that dictate we as a nation shouldnt be torturing
people. Well, it turns out that thats not quite the case most lawmakers havent the foggiest clue which interrogation methods are currently used in our War on Terror, and none of them know what practices will be allowed or disallowed by the new legislation. (And yes, this includes John McCain, who apparently doesnt actually give a crap about prisoners rights or standing up for whats just.) As always, Dahlia Lithwick masterfully puts it into words, this time skipping the humor and going straight for deserved damnation.
For the five years since 9/11, we have been in the dark in
this country. This president has held detainees in secret prisons and
had them secretly tortured using secret legal justifications. Those
held in secret at Guantanamo Bay include innocent men, as do those who
have been secretly shipped off to foreign countries and brutally
tortured there. That was a shame on this president. But passage of the
new detainee legislation will be a different sort of watershed. Now we
are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we
were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture well never hear about.
Instead of detainees we didnt care about, we are authorizing
detentions well never know about. Instead of being misled by the
president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that
is a shame on us all.
Update: Unsurprisingly, the Senate just voted to kill an amendment which would have guaranteed habeas corpus rights to all non-citizen detainees.
(Yep, even good ol John McCain voted against it.) Lets be very clear:
this means that those detainees who arent U.S. citizens will have absolutely no venue in which to challenge their detention,
meaning that theres almost no way to review this abhorrent bit of the
legislation once enacted. (Congress and the President decided to be
generous to citizens we all have been granted the kindness of
military tribunals to which we can appeal our detention.) Far from
fearmongering, that parenthetical statement is a particularly important
bit of info, since the new law also gives the President and military pretty much sole authority over the definition of enemy combatant,
meaning that its not exaggerated to say they can go so far as to
declare American citizens on American soil as enemy combatants. As a
result, our Congress is a hairs breadth from ensconsing our Executive
branch in virtually unfettered power to detain, interrogate, and
permanently imprison anyone they so choose. Truly, completely shameful. [Q Daily News]