The torture compromise

So, much I could say about the torture compromise, but I'll try and keep it limited, so I don't spend half my day typing away.  A few key points.  This compromise only limits egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions.  As to what sorts of “intense interrogation” i.e., torture, still goes, that's all up to President Bush.  As Andrew Sullivan puts it:

I should add that it is essential to the integrity of language and law
that the word torture not be defined out of existence. Waterboarding,
hypothermia, long-time-standing, and various forms of stress positions
are torture, have always been torture and always will be torture. What
we must do is what Orwell demanded: speak plain English before it
evaporates from our discourse, refuse to acquiesce to the corruption of
language and decency.

Here's today's News & Observer on the compromise:

But the agreement does specify that it would prohibit “grave
breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, including torture, rape,
biological experiments and cruel and unusual treatment. It's troubling,
frankly, that these clearly unacceptable abuses even have to be
specified by the United States, which has long set an example in humane
treatment of prisoners.

And as to breaches that are not “grave.”  The compromise gives President Bush the freedom to torture all he wants (as Sullivan's quote suggests).  The editorial continues:

And what about the part of the agreement
that permits use against suspects of testimony that was coerced? That
would apply if the coercion had occurred before a 2005 ban on cruel and
unusual punishment went into effect, and if a judge deemed the
testimony reliable. But in other words, some suspects will be subject
to having evidence used against them that would be illegal except for
an arbitrary deadline.

In addition, individuals, under this
agreement, could not protest violations of the Geneva Conventions in
court. How is that rule fair?

I'll have plenty more to say on the topic.  But for now, I just wanted to make it clear that the “principled” Republicans basically caved in to the “torturer-in-chief.” 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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