Saturday, September 16, 2006

“What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?”

So asked our president yesterday. The Washington Post reports that Bush is threatening to close down interrogation of terror suspects and blame those who want the U.S. to adhere to the Geneva Conventions:
The president's threat to end the interrogation program seemed to make little impression on the Republican dissidents who have balked at his interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), two of four Republicans who voted against Bush's position on Thursday, again rejected his logic after the news conference, and a fifth Republican senator, Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), joined the rebellion against the president.
The issue, as New York Times reports, is reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions:

The dispute centers on whether to pass legislation reinterpreting a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article 3 that bars “outrages upon personal dignity”; the Supreme Court ruled that the provision applies to terrorism suspects. Mr. Bush argued that the convention’s language was too vague and is proposing legislation to clarify the provisions. “What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?” he said at one point.
Mr. McCain and his allies on the committee say reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions would open the door to rogue governments to interpret them as they see fit.
"Weakening the Geneva protections is not only unnecessary, but would set an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative 'reinterpretations,' " McCain said in a written statement. "This puts our military personnel and others directly at risk in this and future wars."
As for Colin Powell, Bush said his former secretary of state isn't thinking clearly:
He also discounted an argument made in a letter from Mr. Powell that his plan would encourage the world to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”
Asked about that analysis, Mr. Bush said, “If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it’s flawed logic.”
Bush and his apologists had reasoned that shifting the focus from Iraq to terrorism would work to their political advantage. It's doesn't seem to be working out as they hoped.

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