Last night the insomnia banshees finally left me alone. As a result, I learned about the passage of one of the worst bills in Senate history (65–34, with 12 Democrats unworthy of the name voting for it and 1 Republican standing against his party, Lincoln Chafee) from NPR’s Morning Edition and not the BBC. Oh, what a beautiful mornin’!
I knew it was coming. The White House has way too much power to let three “rogue” senators keep them from getting one step closer to their goal: absolute authority. So I’m not surprised, only sickened. Just so we’re clear, with this bill the Senate has determined that
- CIA torture (ahem, sorry, detention) centers are legal
- short of murder or rape (and even that is defined hazily), torture is a gray area, best adjudicated by the president (fare thee well Geneva Conventions, thanks for your efforts to keep us from behaving like Nazis and getting away with it)
- US personnel are immune from prosecution for War Crimes, in the unlikely event that our president determines that such personnel crossed the blury torture line he (or she, should Condi win the White House) establishes at whim
- Habeas Corpus, keeping rulers from imprisoning people for the hell of it since 1215, and a constitutional right (“unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it”—extremely shaky grounds, there, Mr. President), doesn’t apply. Those held by the US government may not challenge their detention in US court
The House, which passed a very similar bill already, will almost certainly agree to the Senate’s changes. Bush should have the law by the weekend.
Congress, by passing such a bill, has abandoned the principles upon which this country was founded. They have abandoned the principles that have allowed us to stand against such behavior, because even when such atrocities were committed by the US in the past, these atrocities were at least deemed unacceptable and some semblance of accountability was expected. Instead of improving on that accountability, Congress has abdicated all accountability.
We as citizens have a responsibility when Congress does such a thing. We need to vote every single last representative and senator responsible for this travesty of justice out of office. Failing that, we need to demand the impeachment of those responsible.
Otherwise we may as well start saying “Heil Bush.”