Politics on a wire
Republicans Reach Deal on Detainee Bill
By KATE ZERNIKE
Published: September 22, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 — The Bush administration and Congressional Republicans reached agreement Thursday on legislation governing the treatment and interrogation of terrorism suspects after weeks of debate that divided Republicans heading into the midterm elections.
Under the deal, President Bush dropped his demand that Congress redefine the nation’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions, handing a victory to a group of Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose opposition had created a showdown over a central aspect of the rules for battling terrorism.
The administration’s original stance had run into fierce resistance from former and current military lawyers and Mr. Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They argued, as did Mr. McCain and the other two senators leading the resistance, that any redefinition would invite other nations to alter their obligations and endanger American troops captured abroad.
“There is no doubt that the integrity and the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved,” said Mr. McCain, who was tortured during more than five years as a prisoner in North Vietnam.
Members of Congress and administration officials announced the deal after emerging from a tense and intricate all-day meeting in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office in a Senate building, saying they would try to push it through in the five days Congress is scheduled to meet before lawmakers leave to campaign.
A lot of people on Kos are pissed, and rightly so, but they didn't understand two things.
One, there probably isn't enough time for this to pass, reconcile with the House and then go to the White House, same with the wiretapping bill. It's going to take some effort to get them through, and there are more than a few people who don't want any vote on this at all. The compromise ie enough for them. A bill can wait.
Two, this isn't about torture. It never was. It was about Bush punishing the GOP for running from him. He was going to make them pay for their "independence" by forcing this. I wondered why he would bring this up when it would bring a nasty debate up during the election.
Well, that was it. He wanted the Dems to make outraged noises. They didn't. I wish this was about morality, but it isn't. It was a Rove trap. He wanted to make the Dems look weak and make them the party of terrorism.
No matter what the bill said, McCain and Bush were at each other, allowing Bush some of his scariest performances of the year.
"I'm trying to protect your family, Matt" was my favorite moment of creepitude. The local papers were whining that Chavez called Bush satan, but half the UN clapped. And one should take a message from that. Even an insane insult is applauded about Bush, one of the most despised leaders on the planet.
This is not a debate about torture. That's coming next year in a House and hopefully, Senate committee next year. This is a debate about seeing if the Dems would fall for a trap.
The White House is as cynical as a Hollywood press agent. They will push any issue for advantage, even torturing prisoners. Even as written, much of it will not survive legal challenge. But when you start getting angry, remember, these people aren't concerned with the law, but with winning. And that is all they care about.
posted by Steve @ 12:15:00 AM