Senators Cave to Torture President: ‘Compromise’ Allows Abuse

September 23rd, 2006 - by admin

Cenk Uygur / Huffington Post & – 2006-09-23 23:01:34

‘Maverick’ GOP Senators Cave to Torture President
Cenk Uygur /

WASHINGTON, DC (September 23, 2006) — After huffing and puffing about principles, three GOP senators essentially gave Bush what he wanted on the Geneva Conventions.

Wow, what mavericks! Those courageous, rebel Republican senators are at it again. They showed Bush a thing or two. Now, he wants be able to maim, rape and mutilate detainees. That ought to show him.

On the torture issue, the senators basically pretended to get a concession when the president said he would not reinterpret the Geneva Conventions … when it comes to “grave breaches.” But anything other than a grave breach the president has free reign to interpret and reinterpret any damn way he pleases.

First, let’s go over what the “grave breaches” are: torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, causing serious bodily injury, and sexual assault or abuse, and taking hostages.

Great, we won’t be doing biological experiments on the detainees anymore. Since cruel and inhuman treatment’s definition is not spelled out, this leaves us exactly where we were before. The president can order waterboarding, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, physical abuse, etc., etc. It’s all cool as long as no one is getting raped or mutilated. Are we not merciful?

In the end, what did the brave maverick Republican senators get on the torture issue? Bupkus!

And what was their reaction? Bend over, smile and pretend to be rebels. I thought sexual abuse wasn’t permitted anymore under the new guidelines. So, I guess it was consensual.

Oh yeah, they did get one more powerful concession. The president promises to put up a list of the different torture tactics he thinks are acceptable in an executive order at a date to be determined later. Except of course, Stephen Hadley has already said they will not do that because specific interrogation techniques will remain secret. Ooops. There goes that.

Speaking of Stephen Hadley, he also said the one real concession the senators got on the other issue – letting the defendants see evidence they are being charged with – might also be a head fake. He says they might reconsider that later. Of course!!!

This is a president you can’t trust on anything. I mean that literally. On this very issue, the president has lied before and said he would agree to a compromise worked out on torture before – and then reneged on the deal by attaching a signing statement to the bill saying he would not follow the wording on torture. The man just can’t get enough of torture. He is an addict. Even these high profile interventions can’t stop him.

Maybe we need to bring in a heavy hitter to take care of this problem. The same man who helped Bush beat his other addictions – Jesus Christ. Though, there is some chance if Jesus himself came down and told Bush to stop torturing people, he still wouldn’t do it. Cheney would convince him Jesus was soft on defense.

For kicks, the senators also threw in the concession that the prisoners will not be able to enforce any rights they might have because they will be held in a lawless state. Again, this is literal. They will have no right to habeas corpus. No recourse to the courts. They will only have the legendary compassion of George Bush to comfort them.

So, in the end, the president who started out by claiming to be a compassionate conservative will go down in history as The Torture President. Just when you thought Bush’s legacy couldn’t get any worse.

Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks (, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide.

Senators: The Abuse Can Continue
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON, DC (September 22, 2006) — The good news about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not — as President Bush had demanded — pass legislation that formally reinterprets US compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration’s use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture. Trials of accused terrorists will be fairer than the commission system outlawed in June by the Supreme Court.

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 US 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.

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 US 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.

For now, the administration says it is not holding anyone in secret CIA facilities. The detention of those being held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay clearly conforms with international law.

If suspects are routed into the CIA program in the future, the administration has pledged to consult with Congress about the interrogation techniques that will be permitted. In theory, Congress could override Mr. Bush’s regulations governing treatment if it judges that they are being used to authorize unacceptable practices.

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.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Center for Constitutional Rights

In a statement issued on September 22, 2006, Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights said: “The compromise reached yesterday is a nearly complete capitulation by Senators McCain, Warner and Graham to political pressure from Karl Rove and the White House.

“The compromise allows President Bush to issue his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions by executive order and immunizes CIA and military personnel from prosecution for past violations of the Geneva Convention….”
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