More below the fold...
I think it's very likely they are setting up votes for a few of their members to "vote against" Bush. And it's possibly why we saw three FISA bills passed out of Judiciary this week. Senators can vote against the Specter bill, and against the administration, but when it comes down to it, they'll "do what the president wants."
Nor was this a cleverly contrived media plot to allow Republicans to run away from the unpopular President (as if their votes weren't a matter of public record). That line of thinking is part of the prevelant media narrative in DC, which goes like this: when Republicans lose, they really win, because Republicans are always right.
Both views are reasonable, and either could be correct. Or, both could be wrong. I offer a third view, and it scares me because if I am anywhere close to the real story, it's going to make the NSA spying program look like the least of our worries.
There really isn't a rift between the President and Senate Republicans. It is a set-up, but its relationship to the elections is only tangential. The reason for this is because there are no substantive differences between the legislation in play. There are perceived differences though, and this is what is fueling the media hype. It's all smoke and mirrors though, and is intended to keep us from seeing what is really going on.
One of these perceptions is that the President is advocating torture, and that some Senate Republicans have an issue with that. This over-simplifies the issue somewhat because of the varied conceptions of what constitutes 'Torture.' It's generally conceptualized along the lines of pulling someones fingernails off, or something similarly physically abusive. Interrogation techniques such as 'Cold Celling,' 'Long Standing,' and 'Water Boarding' are, however, less clear. Just how far is 'Too far' in our treatment of 'Terrorists?' If it saves lives, is it wrong to 'Water Board,' especially if it leaves no physical damage? Questions such as these are answered the same in all three versions of the 'Military Commissions Act of 2006.'
Nothing in the legislation re-defines 'Torture.' It simply refers to existing law for its definition. Each version of the legislation points to 18 USC 2340, which reads:
(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from--
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;
If all three versions of the legislation refer to the same existing law in defining 'Torture,' then obviously, there cannot be a substantive basis for the perception that differences exist.
Another perception is that the President is attempting to alter Common Article III of the Geneva Convention, which reads:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
The provisions of the legislation do nothing to alter the language of Common Article III. The primary reference to the Geneva Convention reads:
Sec 6. Satisfaction of Treaty Obligations.
(a) In General.-- Satisfaction of the prohibitions against cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment set forth in Section 1003 of The Detainee treatment Act of 2005 (title X of Public law 109-148; 119 Stat. 2739; 42 USC 2000dd) shall fully satisfy United States obligations with respect to the standards for detention and treatment established by Section 1 of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
Section 1003 of The Detainee Treatment Act reads:
SEC. 1003. PROHIBITION ON CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT OF PERSONS UNDER CUSTODY OR CONTROL OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.
(a) In General- No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
(b) Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose any geographical limitation on the applicability of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under this section.
(c) Limitation on Supersedure- The provisions of this section shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section.
(d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined- In this section, the term `cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
If all three versions of the legislation refer to the same existing law with regard to the Geneva Conventions, then obviously, there cannot be a substantive basis for the perception that differences exist.
If you recall from the introduction, it was said:
I offer a third view, and it scares me because if I am anywhere close to the real story, it's going to make the NSA spying program look like the least of our worries.
Notice that Section 1003 of 'The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005' makes reference to the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. This is the standard by which we are to treat Detainees. It's already the law, and has been for some time now. If this is so, then why the persistent perception that there is debate concerning the treatment of Detainees? Surely, we are not considering providing a 'Terrorist' with protections beyond those that we ourselves enjoy. No, of course not. It's a fabricated debate to keep us from seeing what is really happening.
The 'Military Commissions Act of 2006' references Section 1003 of 'The Detainee Act of 2005,' which it then refers to 18 USC 2340. The Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments referenced in Section 1003 are being defined by 18 USC 2340. This opens the door to an unprecedented increase in federal and state police powers, with regard to US citizens, because the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments are congressionally cast in terms of 18 USC 2340.
Interrogation techniques such as 'The Cold Cell,' 'Long Standing,' and 'Water Boarding' would then be within range of US citizens because such tactics are not prohibited by 18 USC 2340, which is the new standard by which to measure violations of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
Since the 'Military Commissions Act of 2006' links itself with Section 1003 of 'The Detainee Act of 2005,' which in turn links itself with the Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments, thereby purporting to render itself constitutional, other of our rights are endangered.
The 'Military Commissions Act of 2006,' in all three versions, removes the right to a 'Speedy Trial.' It removes the right against 'Self-Incrimination.' It permits 'Hearsay.' The right be free from arrest and trial without 'Probable Cause' is replaced with:
Charges and specifications against the accused shall be signed... and shall state:
1. That the signer has personal knowledge of, OR REASON TO BELIEVE, the matters set forth therein; and
2. That they are true in fact to the best of his knowledge and belief. (Emphasis mine)
The express withdrawal of such rights as constitutional under the Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments is characterized in the legislation as necessary considering the unique circumstances of the 'War on Terror.' The NSA spying program is also supposedly consistent with the unique circumstances of the 'War on Terror.' Does this not also cast a light upon the recent Republican insistence that reference to 'The Patriot Act' be included in a resolution commemorating 9/11?
In conclusion, and I wish I could have explained my views better, but this line of reasoning is not wholly outside the realm of possibility. I've detailed the relevant laws exhaustively. I've showed that the apparent rift between the President and the Senate Republicans doesn't exist at all. It's all been smoke and mirrors. I could be wrong about all of this, or I could be right. If I've made any sense at all, please hit the RECOMMEND button on the upper right side of your screen.