Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the new torture act

jack balkin on the new torture act :
The bottom line is simple: The MCA preserves rights against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but it severs these rights from any practical remedy.

This means that the President can have his "alternative sets of procedures"-- i.e., torture lite-- if he can persuade CIA personnel to violate the law with the promise that they will never be prosecuted or punished for doing so. When Rickard suggests that someday CIA officials will have to answer to judges and juries, he assumes precisely what the new bill acts to forestall-- judicial inquiries into the conduct of CIA interrogations.

This is the great irony (and chutzpah) of the President's repeated claim that he only wanted to clarify the law so that the CIA and other officials wouldn't have to break it. The CIA will still be violating the law if it does what the President wants it to do. However, because the Military Commissions Act severs rights from remedies, the Executive branch has the sole power of enforcement. The President decides whether he thinks people in the Executive branch are violating the law, and even if he believes they are violating the law, the President also decides whether he will order them to stop. By now we know the answer to this question. He will not order them to stop. Quite the contrary: the President has made clear in his repeated endorsement of these "alternative" techniques (techniques that he will not name in public) that he will push CIA officials to break the law. Because the Executive branch holds all enforcement powers within itself, the only thing that prevents cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is the conscience of CIA personnel and executive branch lawyers.

And we know from the fiasco over the torture memo that the conscience of executive branch lawyers has not always been sufficient.

There are many things that are deeply distressing about the Military Commissions Act of 2006. One of the most distressing is its deeply cynical attitude about law. The President has created a new regime in which he is a law unto himself on issues of prisoner interrogations. He decides whether he has violated the laws, and he decides whether to prosecute the people he in turn urges to break the law. And all the while he insists that everything he does is perfectly legal, because, the way the law is designed, there is no one with authority to disagree.

It is a travesty of law under the forms of law. It is the accumulation of executive, judicial, and legislative powers in a single branch and under a single individual.

It is the very essence of tyranny.


«—U®Anu§—» said...

I've just completed my study of this law. I looked over my notes and closed the files. I'm going to have to go lie down for a little while and think about it.

This is such a ridiculous, incredulous piece of legislation. I am ashamed of myself for spending what I know was over 100 hours studying it. I figured to write two more parts to the series about it. It doesn't deserve even one. But I'll write another and wrap it up. Until I reached the last page, I took it all pretty seriously. Now I think, "you gotta be kidding," and the song "Is That All There Is" wafts wistfully through my head. Then let's keep dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball...if that's all...there is...

Hey you guys, take a look at this article from today's Truthout. Boy, these guys never stop trying. If they aren't cowards, they'll meet me out back for a good ass beating.

lukery said...

uranus - sorry to hear that you feel like you wasted all that time! "you gotta be kidding" probably should have been your starting point!

noise said...

I read some of the articles on this site and watched the clip of Olbermann on Crooks and Liars.

The thing I wonder about is why Congress passed THIS bill? Bush's "sway" at the time wasn't much in terms of public approval. If Congress said "No, we simply aren't passing this crap," there wouldn't be much Bush could do politically speaking.

So what pull does Bush still have to convince Congress to pass such a radical bill? How has Bush avoided oversight? How has Bush contained Republican criticism of his sick, cynical Iraq occupation policy?

I would guess it all goes back to 9/11. Somehow Bush has blackmailed Congress though it would seem Bush would be the one subject to blackmail.

lukery said...

i have no answers for you my friend.

the only thing that i can say is that it seems wrong to think of 'congress.' Repug concgresscritters and the WH are both just part of the same GOP machine. look at the GOP COngress voting record in the update here.

there are sure a lot of mysteries.

rimone said...

thank you, Uranus, for all your work.

Noise: Somehow Bush has blackmailed Congress

goddammit, i've been saying this for years and have been called a conspiracy theorist (or worse).

then we find out about the NSA wiretapping US citizens, which began way before the fucking TWAT (total war against terra).

if anyone thinks, for just one second, that bu$hCo didn't use this shit against Kerry to make him concede (and everyone else who ever stood up to him; once i was keeping a list of those who'd done an 180 degree turnaround after criticising then being summoned to the whitehouse) anyway, i guess i'm trying to say WAKE THE FUCK UP, people.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

It's up now. I was curious about this law, and I found out. My body hurts, and the cat is attacking. He knows I've been doing the devil's work. I hope that provides a little insight. The Act is unnecessarily complicated, but forcefully asserts Bush wants military style justice which operates on the whim of the executive rather than laws in order to treat people in a capricious manner.