17 December 2005

Torture now banned--except when it isn't

Bush Caves...

President Reverses Course...

A Stinging Defeat for White House...

Well for all the great sounding headlines, it looks like this week's acceptance of John McCain's anti-torture amendment might be more cosmetic than anything else.
McCain's initial bill called for banning all U.S. personnel from engaging in "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of detainees. The only changes to his proposal, McCain said, dealt with people accused of mistreating detainees.

"(It) basically says that if a person, a reasonable person, would feel that someone was acting under orders ... then it could be a defense in case of accusation," McCain said. "And there is a provision for legal counsel for those who are accused (of torture), both civilian and military."

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds like even if someone gets caught, depending on the verbal gymnastics of their instructions, they might not be guilty of anything. His/her direct superior points the figure at the orders they were given, someone else references intelligence...

Rinse, repeat.

If that weren't bad enough, the Pentagon is seeking classified changes to the Army field manual that McCain wants to use as the blueprint for prisoner treatment. Any guesses as to what those changes will address? Beautiful, isn't it? If you can't keep from being held to a standard, change it. Plus we still have to wait and see if the Bush junta can effect changes in a measure put forth by Sens. Carl Levin and Lindsay Graham that would prevent detainees from seeking redress from the courts if they are being mistreated.

So where does that leave us?

Interrogators will be held to a standard, but one that has been amended to include more latitude than it did originally. Prisoners likely may not be permitted to address their treatment in the courts. Even if they are, if the hypothetical "reasonable person" feels that the interrogator(s) was acting under orders, then no crime was committed.

Another "policy" that isn't.

The emperor is again strolling about in the buff and the so-called "liberal" media says nothing.

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