Friday, September 22, 2006
You know something is out of whack with the Republican Senate and Maverick McCain when they've lost Fred Hiatt.
The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
And things are particularly interesting for David Broder when his boy McCain is labelled a Rubber Stamp for the worst of this administration on the very opnion pages from which he broadcasts his love letters:
In short, it's hard to credit the statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday that "there's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved." In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do, America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism.
But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses -- led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) -- failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.
Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday. Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and bear responsibility for the enormous damage that has caused.
The New York Times and the Washington Post have now both laid bare the truth about the would-be maverick GOP rebels. It comes down to this: the only way the Bush administration will be held accountable is with a Democratic Congress. The only opposition this administration will ever have is from Democrats.
That has to start now. The Democrats have been absent from this debate for too long. Going to the mattresses on this legislation is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. The American people, the media, the Democratic base have to know that finally, there is a line over which this administration and it's enablers like McCain and all his Rubberstamp colleagues can't go. That's the line that further diminishes our moral standing in the world, that endangers our own men and women in uniform, that is one more step toward the coronation of the worst president in our history as king.