Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too true to be good

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away:

Seeking a deal with Senate Republicans on the rules governing the interrogation of terrorism suspects, the White House has dropped its insistence on redefining the obligations of the United States under the Geneva Conventions, members of Congress and aides said Tuesday.


Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican on the Armed Services Committee who has supported the president’s legislation, said Tuesday morning that the White House had agreed to work within the War Crimes Act to refine the obligations under Common Article 3.

“There’s agreement on the goal,” Mr. Cornyn said, “that is, that we continue to comply with our international treaty obligations and all of our domestic laws, but at the same time not tie the hands of our intelligence officials.”
And here's where the whole thing turns into kabuki:

Common Article 3 guarantees humane treatment to combatants seized during wartime. The two sides agree that the article’s language prohibiting “outrages upon human dignity” is too vague and leaves military and C.I.A. personnel uncertain about what techniques they may use in interrogating detainees.
I think if there's a question, maybe the techniques shouldn't be used, huh? No mention of that, however. No mention of the fate of habeas corpus, either. Missing, must be presumed dead, I'd say.

Of course, it has to be said, that this has been tried before, and the Supreme Court neatly disposed of the attempt in an almost off-hand manner in the Hamdan decision. Having already extended habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees, I don't see the court allowing Congress to remove it again. But such are the moves of this kabuki dance where our leaders seem determined to destroy the Republic in order to save it.

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