Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bush to Congress: "Drop Dead!"

We recently witnessed a national debate on the propriety of using torture. On one side was Darth Cheney, advocating for torture, backed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, of “Geneva Convention is quaint” fame. On the other side was the civilized world, in this case represented by John McCain.

The Bushies argued that torture had made McCain’s mind a little soft when they were running against him in 2000, but they dropped that line of attack in the debate on the McCain Amendment.

The McCain Amendment categorically prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees by all U.S. personnel, anywhere in the world. The Administration publicly dropped its opposition when it read the writing on the wall. Rather than go down in ignominious defeat, it withdrew tactfully and tactically. The Amendment was tacked onto the H.R. 2863, “Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006.”

W signed this bill into law on Friday, December 30th. The signing ceremony was not widely covered in the news, perhaps because the 4th Estate was busy compiling their “Top Ten Celebrity Break-up” lists. Be that as it may, King George W’s signing message is a thing to behold. Here’s what the Chimp in Chief said:

“The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.”

Over on Balkinization Marty Lederman translated the preceding thus: "I reserve the constitutional right to waterboard when it will 'assist' in protecting the American people from terrorist attacks."

Will the Congress take this lying down or will they rise up and do their duty? Stay tuned.

”… and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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