Bush's Latest Slam on Detainees and Torture

Scotusblog reports:

The Bush Administration appears to be preparing to try to scuttle the two most significant pending cases on the legal rights of foreign nationals now being held at the terrorism prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One of those cases has been granted review by the Supreme Court, the other is awaiting a decision in the D.C. Circuit Court.

President Bush himself signaled this strategy of challenge in a statement last Friday that got little mention in the media, during the holiday lull. His remarks, made at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, came as he signed into law a new defense authorization bill, H.R. 2863, that contains the "Detainee Treatment Act of 2005" as part of its Title X, "Matters Relating to Detainees." (The full text of the President's signing statement can be found here. The discussion of the detainee issue is in the eighth paragraph, which begins "The executive branch shall construe Title X...")

Go on over and read the rest. Marty Lederman has more at Balkanization.

Most importantly, as to the McCain Amendment, which would categorically prohibit cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees by all U.S. personnel, anywhere in the world, the President wrote:

The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.

Translation: I reserve the constitutional right to waterboard when it will "assist" in protecting the American people from terrorist attacks. [UPDATE: Or, as Matthew Franck eagerly puts it over at the National Review, "the signing statement . . . conveys the good news that the president is not taking the McCain amendment lying down."]

Marty also reprints the complete language of the McCain and Graham Amendments as they appear as Title X of Division A of the Appropriations Act.

Here's some TalkLeft background on how the McCain Amendment evolved into into an empty promise. I don't expect McCain to do anything about it either.

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  • Re: Bush's Latest Slam on Detainees and Torture (none / 0) (#1)
    by soccerdad on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 05:53:28 PM EST
    "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I'm the dictator..." --Washington, DC, Dec 18, 2000, during his first trip to Washington as President-Elect "You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." George Bush Describing what it's like to be governor of Texas. (Governing Magazine 7/98) "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." (Business Week, July 30, 2001)

    Re: Bush's Latest Slam on Detainees and Torture (none / 0) (#3)
    by The Heretik on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:58:53 PM EST
    Is John Calhoun being channelled through Bush these days? A distinct 1832 feel in the air. Bush seems to think he can nullify whatever parts of law he doesn't like. Am I mistaken or has all the BS suddenly jumped several levels of magnitude in the last few weeks. Some times I stand back from this only to find myself falling down in disbelief. Oy.