Torture is in the eye of the beholder
The bill would require U.S. intelligence agencies to follow interrogation rules adopted by the armed forces last year....
Those rules explicitly prohibit "forcing detainees to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over detainees' heads or duct tape over their eyes; beating, shocking, or burning detainees; threatening them with military dogs; exposing them to extreme heat or cold; conducting mock executions; depriving them of food, water, or medical care; and waterboarding."
Okay, I'll side with Bush on the forcing to be naked and sexual posing. That's humiliating, and shouldn't be allowed, but it's not torture.
But the rest?
Bush relies on the sophistry of "not telling our enemies what methods we use" as his excuse for opposing such clear bills. But that makes little sense. Yes, you don't publish a manual of interrogation methods. But if you can't label a given technique torture, then you can't meaningfully apply a law that outlaws torture -- and thus any claims that "we don't torture" are meaningless and unenforceable.
Froomkin also covers the contempt of Congress citations issued to Karl Rove and Josh Bolten for refusing to turn over documents related to the U.S. attorney firings. Interestingly, Republican senators Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley voted in favor of the citations -- deflating to some extent accusation that the charges are purely politically motivated.
For its part, the White House repeated its meaningless offer to let Rove and Bolten be interviewed without oaths or transcripts. And it vowed that the Justice Department would not enforce the contempt citations, preventing the issue -- which, questions of right or wrong aside, boils down to a separation-of-powers spat -- from being heard in the courts.
As Froomkin writes:
The White House position, of course, exposes an amazing conundrum: That the same Justice Department whose politicization is being investigated is also in a position to hand out get-out-of-testifying-free cards.
This may be within the executive's power, but it's not right. Both sides should agree to have the matter reviewed by the judiciary, which can rule on whether Congress has the power of oversight in this matter. If so, the documents must be turned over; if not, they don't.
But the scorched earth stonewalling by the White House serves no legitimate purpose.
torture, Bolten, Rove, politics, midtopia