September 21, 2006

Scion of Hopeful News: Frist Was Right

Hatched by Dafydd

So Bill Frist did indeed have inside information, and President Bush and his crickets in the Senate did indeed craft a compromise on interrogating captured terrorists.

But it's still unclear just exactly what was won and what lost.

The president is claiming victory:

The White House said the deal would allow the CIA's questioning of foreign terrorist suspects to continue.

"We got what the president asked for," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "The CIA program to question detainees to get important information about al Qaeda, to foil plots and save American lives -- this program is going forward."

Reuters flatly states that Bush made concessions but doesn't give any examples:

Bush, who wanted authority for tough interrogations that critics said bordered on torture, was forced to make concessions after three leading Senate Republicans challenged his plan last week and offered a rival bill that drew more Senate support.

The Bush administration denies that prisoners are tortured.

So... is he is or is he ain't? Did the turncoats blink, or did the White House give away the farm? Or did they actually come up with some astonishing, real, hitherto unguessed-at compromise?

I find the one detail in the New York Times story very disturbing and worrisome:

The central sticking point had involved a demand from McCain, Sen. John Warner of Virginia and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for a provision making it clear that torture of suspects would be barred.

One official said that under the agreement, the administration agreed to drop language that would have stated an existing ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment was enough to meet Geneva Convention obligations.

Convention standards are much broader and include a prohibition on ''outrages'' against ''personal dignity.''

In turn, this official said, negotiators agreed to clarify what acts constitute a war crime. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he had not been authorized to discuss the details.

First, we don't know whether this "official" really knows what he's talking about, or for that matter who -- or what -- he is; second, we don't know what rules Congress will enact in place of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2004.

It's great to have clarity... but if Congress "clarifies" interrogation by saying waterboarding shall now constitute a war crime; a belly-slap, attention-grab, and harsh language shall now constitute war crimes; and continuing to interrogate a detainee after he has demanded a lawyer shall now constitute a war crime -- well, that's considerably worse than the situation of "uncertainty" we have now.

So the stink of sulphur is in the details (not the U.N.); who caved and by how much?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2006, at the time of 3:06 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Dale Gribble

Bush always appears to cave, but months down the road things look a bit different.

The above hissed in response by: Dale Gribble [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 4:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

According the panel on Brit Hume this evening, Bush was not the one who did most of the caving. It appears there was a compromise that was more semantic than anything else.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 4:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: XB234C

Senators are a unique brand of vermin. I don't care what party they belong to....

The above hissed in response by: XB234C [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 7:01 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

As near as I can gather, what Bush conceded was that he would not attempt to "interpret" the Geneva conventions, but simply say that what we were now doing complies and leave the international lawyers to try to make the case otherwise. Highly appropriate if true, IMHO, since these subhuman terrorists do not qualify for anything under the Geneva Convention, or any other standard of treatment. It is ridiculous to think we can shoot them on the battlefield, but not talk harshly to them if they're captured.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 7:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu

I'm not so sure that it's a sulfurous stink coming out of the senate. That implies a certain amount of evil--or, I guess, a lack of manners. It's almost as if someone has sprayed Fabreeze over the chambers, and now whatever smell there was has been blocked instead of eliminated.

Granted, if Bush is actually happy, we've probably gotten the best deal possible from this mess. As weird as he's been about immigration and such, intelligence gathering seems to be a subject he's more or less serious about. Whenever the NY Times divulges things they shouldn't, he puts on a good show of looking genuinely pissed.

The above hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 7:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: cboldt

The question of "who conceded what?" can be approached by reading the proposed law of each side before their differences hit the news in a big way, and comparing it with the language that came as a result of negotiation.

I think Warner, McCain, Graham, Collins (and by extension, Hagel, Specter, Chafee, Snowe and a few others "on the record" as supporting the Warner version) gave up substantive points in exchange for some confusing (politically useful) but cover language.

The above hissed in response by: cboldt [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 22, 2006 12:50 PM

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