Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Democrats were "on the sidelines watching the catfights" among Republicans on terrorism legislation. He said they had little choice until the GOP settled on its position.
I don't usually make "and I'm never giving another dime!" speeches, but in this case it's warranted. If this shit is actually passed I'm going to turn my back on the Democratic Party for quite some time. They've spent this election season basically absent on anything I care about passionately, and at the moment I feel more disgust for them than I can express.
From the comments of the linked post, we get a careful parsing of the "compromise" definition of torture:
Serious physical pain or suffering means "bodily injury that involves"
(1) a substantial risk of death;
(2) extreme physical pain;
(3) a burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature, not to include cuts, abrasions, or bruises; or
(4) significant loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
So what does "serious" physical pain or suffering mean? Apparently only "extreme physical pain," plus certain horrible forms of injury and disfigurement, but it does NOT include the infliction of cuts, abrasions, or bruises.
NOTE ALSO that the infliction of physical pain or suffering, however severe, does not count as "serious" pain or suffering, UNLESS IT OCCURS THROUGH "BODILY INJURY," whatever that means.
I can't understand the paragraph about "serious" mental pain or suffering. But if the legal parsers turn for instruction to the language about "serious" physical pain or suffering, they will be inspired to define "serious" mental pain or suffering very narrowly indeed. We get a return here to extreme pain, organ failure, and death. The Bybee torture memo lives! In the years to come, we can look forward to learned disquisitions on the meaning of "serious" pain, "extreme" pain, organ failure, bodily injury, burns and disfigurements of a "serious nature."
So the fine print is terrible, and that's just the beginning.
The day (or hour) after this bill is passed, Bush will publicly announce his interpretation of Common Article Three. It will be the same flexible standard (linked to the "shocks the conscience" formula) that appeared in Bush's original bill. Only now, Congress isn't "stained" by putting that language directly in the legislation.
In one way this "compromise" is WORSE than Bush's original bill. Instead of redefining Common Article Three itself, the new legislative proposal gives the President carte blanche to do so himself, without any possibility of judicial review. So the governing interpretation of Common Article Three could turn out to be MUCH WORSE than what appeared in Bush's original bill. Not only that, but the bill gives the President a free hand in interpreting all of the Geneva Conventions. Get ready for some very creative interpretation of other Geneva provisions. (Expect that the Supreme Court's extension of Common Article III to suspected terrorists will be whittled away to nothing.)
All this of course is combined with the habeas-stripping provisions that deny torture victims any judicial remedy whatsoever, and the rewriting of the War Crimes Act so that torture (by which I mean torture rather than the administration's fancy definition of "torture") is no longer a federal crime.
And yes the bill does effectively block reference to Geneva even in criminal trials, since the ability to prosecute war crimes is extremely narrowly circumscribed in the ways we have seen.
Meanwhile, here's the election strategy. Awesome.
"We've got to go on the offensive," explained a senior Democratic aide, "and keep our eye on the ball -- and that's the economy"
"We're not going to win 15 seats on the war in Iraq," said another Democratic staffer, insisting it is the economy that will, in the words of Roll Call, "bring the party across the goal line."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow is quoted as saying the 2006 election "is all about jobs."
From that Washington Post article again:
Once Democrats do weigh in, their strategy is to show there is no daylight between the two parties on fighting terrorism, Democrats say.
We're going to legalize torture and do away with habeas corpus, but Democrats have cleverly avoided saying anything about that. They're betting Americans care more about gas prices. We're only torturing sand niggers after all, and occasionally locking up Puerto Ricans. BFD, right?
I leave it up to you to decide whether it's more depressing if they're right or if they're wrong. Either way, no one's interested in representing those of us who oppose. Fucking. TORTURE.
You remember when we were still debating whether or not the U.S. tortured people? Does that not seem innocent now?
It was barely nine months ago.