Bush Got What he Wanted From a Fleeing Congress
The Macon Telegraph (MCT)
October 5, 2006
Oct. 5--In its rush to adjourn and step up campaigning for Nov. 7 elections, Congress failed last week to keep faith with the U.S. Constitution while at the same time confering upon the president authority that our Founding Fathers never intended. In bowing to Mr. Bush's demands that he be permitted to determine what treatment is acceptable for detainees accused of terrorism, the lawmakers essentially told the president he can do whatever he wishes.
The legislation that Sen. John McCain assured the public would preserve the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, the Military Commissions Act, fails miserably in every respect. The new law essentially gives Mr. Bush carte blanche to decide "the meaning and application" of the Geneva Conventions as they pertain to the treatment of prisoners. The president has been doing this all along: Now he can simply decide that detainees have no rights under the international agreement, a procedure he had been following until the U.S. Supreme Court said he had to stop.
The key points of this measure permit:
--the president to deny detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba the right to challenge their imprisonment, even though many have been held for years without charges;
--the president to authorize interrogation techniques that many would deem torture;
--the use of evidence secured under torture;
--shielding the president and his administration from charges of torture conducted from 9/11 until now;
--military prosecutors to prohibit detainees from challenging evidence, even seeing evidence against them in some cases;
--the government to designate a U.S. citizen as an "unlawful enemy combatant" who can be held indefinitely without the protection of a habeas-corpus review in a U.S. court.
It is extremely evident that Congress could not look past the Nov. 7 elections as they casually approved legislation not in America's best interests nor in the best interests of the soldiers, sailors, Marines, National Guard and airmen who are involved in combat operations now and in the future.
Almost certainly, this measure will be back before the Supreme Court, where its longevity is likely to be curtailed. It's sad the acts' lack of moral and ethical tenets were overlooked by lawmakers who for one reason or another declined to consider these egregious shortcomings.
In approving this act, Congress didn't make the United States any safer; if anything, it did the opposite -- it gave our enemies more ammunition with which they can attract recruits.