Dear Leader signs torture bill, habeas corpus screams in pain

Lindsay at Majikthise notes that Dear Leader has signed the torture bill, with these words:

"It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill that he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."

Bush signed the bill in the White House East Room, at a table with a sign positioned on the front that said "Protecting America." He said he signed it in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We will answer brutal murder with patient justice," Bush said. "Those who kill the innocent will be held to account." [AP]

Some observations. Yes, it has been rare for Dear Leader to sign any legislation that saves American lives. Including this one. No, there is nothing patient about torture nor is their justice. And Lindsay's observation that liberty and freedom is not a zero sum game is exactly correct. We are taking it from Americans (the same bill put a stake through the heart of habeas corpus) but not delivering it to Iraqis (or anyone else).

Another of Lindsay's points is especially pertinent. This isn't about torture, it's about retribution:

"With the bill I'm about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice," Bush said. [AP]

Even as many of us protest the incarceration and death sentences meted out to the five nurses and a doctor by the despotic regime in Libya with confessions extracted under torture, we move to sanction this in the US.

Not worried because it doesn't apply to you?

The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush would probably eventually issue an executive order that would describe his interpretation, but those documents are not usually made public and Snow did not reveal when it might be issued. [AP]

Are you sure it doesn't apply to you?

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And how do we know what "signing statement" got added in afterwards? I'm sure it can be made to apply to anyone, and I'm sure we wouldn't want the current administration in power during an influenza pandemic; there so little chance of getting back on track now as it is.

"even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." ~Thomas Jefferson

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."~James Madison

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." ~Dwight Eisenhower

"A republic, if you can keep it."~Ben Franklin

By crfullmoon (not verified) on 17 Oct 2006 #permalink

Interesting that Dear Leader signed this law on the very day that American casualties in Iraq have reached 3000. Makes one wonder who will sign a bill to hold someone responsible for these other 3000 murdered Americans. And that is of course without even pondering the plunder of Iraq and murder of Iraqis.

How many homocides a week in the US? I wish that the President would have another "rare occasion" to save American lives - like doing something about poverty and ignorance and drugs and guns and, and, and....

Step by step our Republic is being dismantled and the country is all decked out in Happy Halloween party time decorations. But the witches brew is simmering away for real, alas.

I keep hoping that the Supremem Court will not tolerate this law. We are nothing if we can't dream, I say.

"With the bill I'm about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice," Bush said.

I didn't realize we had captured Bin Laden. Neither did realize we were able to bring the hijackers back from the dead.

Makes one wonder who will sign a bill to hold someone responsible for these other 3000 murdered Americans.

Perhaps it will give everybody pause when the next President declares George W. Bush to be, in the next President's judgement, an emeny combatant, and W disappears into some secret prioson never to be heard of or given a fair trial.

And, all of that would now be legal.

It's gonna take something high profile like that for the people of the USA to realize what it is that our elected representatives have truly done.


Well, I guess the previous four comments made pretty much cover the left side of this coin we call America. Its a pretty big disinformation campaign being pumped up out there and part of it is that holding enemy combatants is considered to be illegal by the Left and that they have RIGHTS. Its because the Left believes that they should be afforded the same rights as you and I under the Constitution and trials in our civil courts. The Constitution doesnt say that in respect to war and anyone who says that is incorrect and its held at least three times by the US Supreme Court. They are not criminals now. They are enemies of the state by law and declaration of war.

Several Presidents suspended habeas corpus. Lincoln was one of them in relation to Confederate troops. They petitioned the Supreme Court and asked for a reach down decision which was done and the President was found to have acted in accordance with the Constitution. The assertion was made by each and every civil attorney then and nowthat these bozo's have rights. They do, but not to our courts. Now they are in the military justice system and they are going to be held accountable. Mostly though the torture thing is going to have a definition under our laws. This is something that it hasnt had before. Narco-terrorism is also on this table now. Drug cartel members can be snatched from foreign soil if we can get them.

One thing that is very good about this is that it will bring these people back up out of the dark that might be CIA or other agencies where they might have possibly been tortured. So far I have only seen Aunt Lyndie in Iraq acting outside of the system and she is going to see the bars of Leavenworth for a while to come.

Those combatants are now afforded rights under the Geneva Convention. Habeas Corpus is not one of them folks. I am sorry about that. But you cant have a war and apply civil law to it. You apply the military laws and Code of Conduct to the situation. If I recall it was Lefties that were sitting in Hanoi on anti-aircraft batteries saying that America was wrong for being in S. Vietnam. This is while fellow Americans were being BRUTALLY tortured daily by the N. Vietnamese. Not one word did the LEFT say about that and no one was ever held accountable. I didnt hear shit about Habeas Corpus either. War Crime? Sheyit, the whole world is a war crime and I admire the lefties for trying to keep a ship that is IMHO about to keel over. When it does keel over we will be in WWIV. We are doing this to supposedly preserve American lives, their ideals and the right of the Left to say what they are saying. Go for it baby. But I dont want to hear about intelligence lapses, Monday morning quarterbacking and especially torture of enemy combatants when American lives are at stake. Screw them and the ponies or camels they rode in on. Americans of Arabic descent do not do this. Arab Americans do it. This is the reason that I constantly, consistently and with every bit of remorse in my soul say that we are going to have to kill one shitload of people to get this to stop. Revere will still be 100% right about torture. Its not right. But the realities of the situation might mean that I would torture a prisoner to death to save one of you. Criminal? Only if we lose and someone prosecutes. I would go out knowing that I for one had done everything for my country and citizens.

We pull out of Iraq and its a civil war, destruction of the world economy and for the better part status quo. People in power hate it when they cant steal our money, pollute our air or in general be in power and that means Dems and Republicans both. I can tell you that some dipshit Democrat that tells you they are going to be able to do a better job is going to be going down faster than the Lusitania. That I might remind you killed a thousand or so people in under a half an hour in an act of terrorism by firing on an undefended ship. All civilians boys and girls. Not even a pistol shot among them.

I said it before, the ball is in play and extreme measures are about to be taken in the name of national security. If the threat goes away, then likely the new law will too. Dont
hold your breath on either though. There is an assertion that YOU have lost some of your civil rights. NOPE! You dont act in a manner inconsistent with the Constitution and there wont be a soul that bothers you. You give aid and comfort to the enemy and you are likely going to get the death penalty. Harsh? Harsh times require harsh actions and make sure I am not on your jury.

I guess the fundamental question is whether the Left and Right believe we are in a full blown war or not. I think that this question will be rendered moot in not so long a time. I think that in a year or less that we are going to be up to our eyeballs in expanding conflicts. Muslims, Koreans, likely Chinese and maybe the Ruskies are all going to be pounding on our doorsteps or those of our allies as the gloves start to slip off. The Iranians pop a nuclear cap and Teheran will cease to exist a few hours later and the Israelis take it off the map.

Can we get the genie back into the bottle. Now thats a lefty lofty goal. I dont think so but I can only hope. Will we lose people? I'd say that there are going to be thousands dead by this time next year. Likely quite a few are going to be Americans.

Anyone want to make a bet?

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 17 Oct 2006 #permalink

Well, I guess the previous four comments made pretty much cover the left side of this coin we call America.

Dude, I don't think I'm left. I'm not right any more, 'cause the right scares me now, but I was once upon a time. I don't know what I am now.

holding enemy combatants is considered to be illegal by the Left and that they have RIGHTS. Its because the Left believes that they should be afforded the same rights as you and I under the Constitution and trials in our civil courts.

The issue isn't specifically holding enemy combatants. It's that the definition of enemy combatants is left entirely to the discretion of the chief executive, and can't be questioned. It's that American citizens no longer have the rights that you seem to think that we still have under the Constitution, if the chief executive decides to declare them enemy combatants. It's that American citizens are now being denyed habeus corpus, in an ill-defined and likely never-ending "war". It's that we're not just talking about holding enemy combatants, it's that we're talking about torturing (in all but, perhaps, admission) them.

You misrepresent what everybody is all upset about in order to portray those you argue against as weak and nuts. But things really have gotten scary here, given the laws we pass and the freedoms we eliminate in (somehow) the name of "protecting freedom."

If the threat goes away, then likely the new law will too.

That's a laugh. First, because this threat won't go away. Terrorism isn't an enemy, it's a tactic. Second, becuase the law will only go away if the voters express enough horror at it that the lawmakers realize that they have to make it go away.

You dont act in a manner inconsistent with the Constitution and there wont be a soul that bothers you.

Tell that to the people in Guantanamo Bay who were just picked up for being in the wrong place when a sweep came through. Tell that to the Arab-Americans who were picked up and hassled for having truckloads of cellphones. Tell that to the handful of American citizens we know about who will face enemy tribunals and who won't have any of the rights that the Constitution theoretically gives to anybody accused of a crime (remember innocent until proven guilty?).

Muslims, Koreans, likely Chinese and maybe the Ruskies are all going to be pounding on our doorsteps or those of our allies as the gloves start to slip off.

You must be a troll. Nobody today is this paranoid. Are they? This whole thing must be a joke troll trying to get dupes like me to respond as if you really meant what you said.

The Ruskies??? They have their own near-civil-war to deal with next to them to bother invading our country nowadays. Dude, wake up, you're spouting the paranoid rant that's a couple of decades out of date.

I'd say that there are going to be thousands dead by this time next year. Likely quite a few are going to be Americans.

Given that even the conservative estimates have thousands of Iraqis dying a month, and that several hundred to a few thousand Americans die in Iraq each year, this is a pretty damn safe prediction. I'm not sure how it supports the rant position you're talking about, however. It's all part of the USA having seriously screwed up in what it thinks is its response to an increasing threat of global terror. Yeah, the threat is there... but invading a country that wasn't directly involved in anything, and turnning it into a chaotic mess that has only made things work, has proven to have been a monumentally STUPID thing to do.


Rob: Kudos, I can never seem to muster enough energy to dissect the lefty-righty claptrap Randolph throws out. And yes, I do think from his many previous posts that he thinks the "Ruskies" are coming.

Randolph: You keep throwing this term war around. Last time I looked, I seem to remember a War on Cancer (Nixon), a War on Drugs (Reagan?/Bush Sr.?), a War on Blowjobs (Ken Starr), and a War on Terrorism (Bush Jr.). This is just in my lifetime. I don't quite seem to see

a) any success or even much progress in any of these wars

b) who is going to sign the peace treaty? the bag of cocaine? the BRCA1/2 gene? (the bright red lipstick?) the emotional response going to grab a pen and sign the Treaty of You Got Me?

c) how you or any of the current adminstration, actually compares the current situation to the Civil War?

Enemy combatants decided by the Chief Executive? Seems that an elected Congress decided that, not you or me. It was, is and has been held in every major conflict by the Supreme Court of the land. About that Congress too, seems they were elected just as Bush was and in a majority. I dont portray anyone as weak and nuts. Dont put words in that I didnt say. You also have borne out what I said though, the new law wont go away and neither will the problem unless the problem is eliminated...completely. Those cellphones were being funneled to Afghanistan and Iraq. Arab Americans were picked up in a sweep, just as the Japanese Americans were. Innocent? Some of them for sure. FDR incarcerated thousands of Americans and the Supreme Court held that it was legal. So where's your problem today. Just pissed off that its Bush or a Republican Congress? Please pick one to vent on today.

My prediction isnt just my own. Its a given. I didnt say the Russians were coming for us, they might for one of our allies in short order. Hey you are preaching to the choir and unfortunately you guys never go the next step because the thought of killing one innocent to save thousands might just grate on you a bit. It does me too. If your delicate sensitivities are impinged upon so be it. I cant help you there. Having been there for 13 years, I can say that all things change. I started under Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and then Bush again. I think that the call will go out again soon. You guys are going to have to decide whose side you are on. Please feel free to vote and remind your friends too. Thats all I say when this kind of stuff kicks up.

For those of you who wont vote as a protest and if you think Saddam was such a great guy, load up, go over and free him and tell him you are his new found friends. I am sure the people of Iraq that I get pictures of every day from my unit that is on station there will welcome him back. Yeah, pictures of people shaking hands, posing with the troops, eating MRE's with them, drinking water and kind of hanging out.

I dont have to give a rebuttal to anything you have there boys, its the same old vist to the left. You will say mine is a visit to the right. But now its moving to the next step as was predicted a year ago. I cant for the life of me understand why you continously support people outside this country more than you do ours. You wouldnt have the rights you do except for the blood of others and that includes the innocent civilians. Enjoy the rights that others have provided you. They'll support you regardless.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 17 Oct 2006 #permalink

The heated discussion above held some useful points for me but I'd like to see if we as a people could discuss a list of the salient facts as well as we understand them, without ever saying the word left or right. I believe we as a nation have lost our way in this and it continues to get worse.

Bringing up the past is usually not helpful and distracts from the facts of the immediate situation. For example, on leaving Iraq: the fact of the moment is that we are there. Forget all that came before, we are just there so if we look forward instead of looking backward and blamethrowing, we have to figure out how to leave as early as possible but without making things worse. From what I have been able to gather, Iraqis in general do not want us to pack up and leave in the short term and they are afraid of the consequences of that. They have entered into a civil war (blame could be laid but it would be more useful to simply state lessons learned and apply them) and the kinds of things that will happen if we walk out the door right now can barely be imagined. Talking about the past does not change the current fact that we have a responsibility to Iraqi citizens whose lives we have disrupted, that's a human issue concerning people who will be left at risk of imminent death and survivors who will eventually suffer under a totalitarian theocracy if we walk out right now, it's not a left/right issue. But I'm sorry, I know that is not what the original post was about so I will move on.

As to the new law, my thoughts are: 1) we need to remember that the law was written not by the president but by congress, and that should worry us as much as anything the president ever does, and 2) I have the nagging sense that this country already passed the tipping point toward being a police state but people just don't notice it because they're lives are comfortable and they're *usually* not the target of blatant, excessive use of power. I don't want to be at risk of disappearing, say, for writing things like this, and if that is what this law leads us toward, that's a problem.

I'm worried about this country on an existential level and if the majority of the people (doing the talking) can't get through this left/right tunnel vision it seems to me things will continue to get worse. I think when we use the words left or right, a useful discussion suddenly becomes less credible, and we just feed into the partisan distractions being perpetrated by politicians. Look at those politicians, they seem to be all corrupt. Who respects them? To me they just seem to be ranting, talking-head partisans with nothing but either self-interest or some brand of ideological zealotry to offer, and no genuine interest in solving anything.

BGG. I hate labels too. But they are used by all sides so its rendered moot. I have said it too many times. I would burn, cook,fry, incinerate, and basically kill any sunuvabitch on this planet that screwed with you, me or anyone else in this country and that includes if we were right or wrong. This is the crux of the matter with me. These guys are always saying that we are going down the wrong path, doing things we shouldnt but you know our system still allows them to change it at the polls. They will rant and say its rigged, that Gore won..I was in on that and when 38,000 people vote in Palm Beach county than are registered in a Democrat county I think thats a crock. No I love to listen to them because like Revere they DO make sense a lot of the time. We have moved from the school yard bully days now to the one where everyone is packing and we have to run the gauntlet now. We ARE going to get shot at and I want us to have full and complete control of everything we can and that might mean a little loss of liberty. Happy about it? NO. Comfortable with it? NO. They have valid points but all they can come up with is worrying about someone else OTHER than Americans and our Allies. The Demon is out there and he is hungry. He will take many if you let him.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Oct 2006 #permalink

I wanted to raise something that I think is salient in all this. The WP had an opinion piece that addressed a relevant issue; the folks doing the "alternative interrogations" should be very careful. They may well find themselves prosecuted criminally or at the wrong end of a civil suit years from now. The editorial made the point that a Bush Admin memo that the 'alternative method" is not torture may not help much when you have to demonstrate that to a jury. A Democratic President / DOJ might well hang these folks out to dry years from now when they are more of an embarassment than anything else. Some of the victims of the "alternative interrogations" may ultimately wind up either in the U.S. or in countries where lawsuits may be filed. I wouldn't count on state secrets and the like protecting the interrogators forever. They will protect themselves legally by staying in POW type guidelines for interrogations. They torture, they may ultimately face legal consequences and saying that the President said it was OK may not be enough.