Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"

stand up now, or kneel forever

by John at 9/28/2006 08:53:00 AM

Last night the House voted to approve the torture bill (Democrats voted nay 160-34, while Republicans voted "yay!" 219-7).

From today's NYT editorial:

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the powerto apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

Call 1-800-AMNESTY to be connected to your senators to tell them to vote against this bill, or filibuster. The Senate is the last possible hold on this tyrannical bill.

This is serious shit. The very unpopular Republicans are using this bill as a tool against Democrats in order to try to hold their own in the midterm election. I do not believe these Congress schemers actually understand how dangerous this is to our nation. The Republicans are determined to hold on to power, and they will do whatever they can to keep it, damn the consequences. They will burn the Constitution if necessary.

Update: Senator Specter has co-sponsored an amendment to the bill to restore Habeus Corpus. That's something, so tell your senator to support the Specter amendment to S. 3930. Tell them to oppose S. 3930. Tell them to oppose cloture on the bill if necessary (the Senate will need 60 votes for cloture to vote on the bill if the Dems manage to filibuster). Here are some numbers - even if you think your Senator will vote to oppose the bill, give them some love and tell them they are doing the right thing. (Also, it's a good idea not to call from your place of employment - use a cell or home phone)

Kyl, Jon
(202) 224-4521
McCain, John
(202) 224-2235

Santorum, Rick
(202) 224-6324
Specter, Arlen
(202) 224-4254

Cantwell, Maria
(202) 224-3441
Murray, Patty
202) 224-2621

Update 2: My quixotic hero, the lovable loser of 2004, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, summed it up: "This bill is everything we don't believe in". 609 law professors agree:

Taken together, the bill’s provisions rewrite American law to evade the fundamental principles of separation of powers, due process, habeas corpus, fair trials, and the rule of law, principles that, together, prohibit state-sanctioned violence. If there is any fixed point in the historical understandings of constitutional freedom that help to define us as a people, it is that no one may be picked up and locked up by the American state in secret or at an unknown location, or without opportunity to petition an independent court for inspection of the lawfulness of the lockup and of the treatment handed out by the state to the person locked up, under legal standards from time to time defined by Congress. This core principle should apply with full force to all detentions by the American state, regardless of the citizenship of detainees.

Update 3: The Specter Amendment was voted down by Republicans. After all, the Preznit gets what the Preznit wants, and above all, they must pass a bill that is completely abhorent to Democrats.
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