September 29, 2006


What happened last night is just so stunning and shameful that it's hard to know how to respond. Is it even possible to feel safe agitating against this law now that the executive has the authority to imprison US citizens indefinitely without trial for "purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States"? And to the extent that the interpretation of this last point is left up to the president, haven't all the rights guaranteed in the Constitution been effectively taken away?

What we have here is the complete evisceration of the rule of law in the United States -- an executive whose consolidation of power is positively Stalinesque. How Bush uses his new power will determine whether he's seen by history as a tyrant or simply a benevolent dictator.

barrett  {September 29, 2006}

It must not really have been important or it would have been on the news this morning, right? Right? And all I saw on the news this morning was information on how you need to drop your first child's pregnancy weight before having a second and a hard hitting expose on how Sesame Street Live! was coming to town for the weekend.

I'm pretty disgusted myself today.

mike  {September 29, 2006}

It's time to start naming names.

Seth Anderson  {September 29, 2006}

Disgusting. And with nary even a peep of a threat of a filibuster by the Dems. A pox on both their houses.

paul  {September 29, 2006}

Yeah, at this point it almost seems like Congress could be dissolved.

And the Dems -- just trying to hold on for the election this fall, but in the process they failed to act decisively against the most important bill to go through there in a generation. Talk about missing the forest for the trees...

barrett  {September 29, 2006}

Seth, from what I understand, the Dems could either offer a bunch of amendments or filibuster. It's not clear a filibuster would have held, and Reid believed he had the votes to attach one or more amendments to the bill.

Kennedy's amendment was the smartest one - it defined a number of behaviors that the U.S. would consider War Crimes if they were performed on an American soldier by a foreign government. Waterboarding, sexual humiliation, use of dogs - all the Abu Ghraib favorites were on the list.

It came close to passing, but got knocked down.

As one poster on another forum put it - better to go down 48-51 against torture than 35-65 against not voting.

There's still the hope the Supremes aren't completely rightist yet and will strike this down on the habeus provision, but it's a very dark day for American moral authority.

Jonathan Versen  {September 29, 2006}

I don't have much hope for the supreme court- they surprise us only rarely in a positive way. Will the three left who helped bring this day to pass reflect on what they've done?

suttonhoo  {September 29, 2006}

some serious suckage. and terrifying.

Haggai  {October 1, 2006}

While the overall performance of the Dems in this instance was pretty weak, it should be fairly clear that at least some of this stuff would not have passed if they were in the majority. The amendment that went down 48-51 wasn't against torture, it was on the habeas issue. Even Lieberman voted with the rest of the Dems on that. Unfortunately, torture itself really does appear to have the support of 2/3 of the Senate. But, control of the Senate (or the House) means a much greater ability to shape the legislation before it ever even comes to a vote on the floor.

paul  {October 1, 2006}

It's so interesting to me that folks are fixated on the torture aspects of this bill. IMHO the torture stuff is really small potatoes compared to the suspension of habeas, especially for American citizens... without habeas, there isn't any due process, and the whole legal system is upended. Technically Bush can disappear anyone he wants now.

Haggai, I think would rather have seen them filibuster this bill and lose in November, if that was the choice (which I dont think it was). The legislation can't be unwritten now without a veto override, which won't happen no matter how well the Dems do next month. Maybe SCOTUS will undo it? But I'm not going to hold my breath.

barrett  {October 2, 2006}

Haggai, you're right, the Kennedy Amendment went down 46-53. The Specter habeus amendment went down 48-51.

Haggai  {October 2, 2006}

Regarding the Geneva conventions, this bill might also have been named the Captain Barbossa Detainee Treatment Act. Recall that in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, he invokes the "pirate code" with Elizabath but then goes back on it, telling her that "they're more like guidelines" than rules (the gag comes back later when Elizabeth futilely tries to convince Capt. Jack's crew to help her save him and Will). One could pretty much sum up Gonzalez' memos with that phrase--don't worry about it, they're more like guidelines than rules. Just what out country's always needed, isn't it? Government by pirate movie villains.

Haggai  {October 2, 2006}

out country = our country...pirates aren't known for their spelling either.

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