Friday, September 22, 2006

Not so Hopeful

Sounds like the same old same old runaround the law. The torture and treatment situation (and absence of accountability) might be even worse once this is passed....

From Democracy Now! :

Bush, GOP Senators Reach Prisoner Treatment Compromise

The Bush administration and dissident Republican Senators have resolved their dispute on the interrogation and trial of prisoners in US custody. Both sides say President Bush has dropped his insistence on being allowed to re-interpret the Geneva Conventions.

But in a major victory for the White House, the President will not have to follow the conventions themselves but only how they are interpreted under the congressional War Crimes Act. President Bush will also be allowed to interpret the Geneva conventions for practices the Washington Post says fall "between cruelty and minor abuse."

White House counselor Dan Bartlett explained: "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there." In another victory for the Bush administration, prisoners tried by military courts will only have limited access to the evidence used against them. The prisoners will be allowed to see summaries of the evidence. But even those will be subject to major redaction from prosecutors.

The agreement also bars defendants from invoking the Geneva Conventions in any habeas or civil action involving government officials.

The so-called compromise is already coming under criticism. In an editorial today, the Washington Post writes: "The agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent."

The agreement is expected to go before Congress next week.

More from the Post editorial:

The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation.

Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.


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