I surely must not be the first (nor the last) person to point this out, but the McCain/Bush “compromise” on torture is illegal because it goes against Article VI of the US Constitution.
First, some background.
On Friday, the traditional media was reporting that Bush “relented” and reached a “compromise” with the “rebel” Republicans in the Senate:
On the interrogation of prisoners, the White House gave up insisting that Congress reinterpret the Geneva Conventions to give it maximum latitude. In exchange, the administration got the “clarity” it wanted so CIA employees can function without fear of prosecution. Congress is supposed to define what “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions will be punishable under the War Crimes Act, which will outlaw not just torture but also some other brutal techniques.
Wait a minute.
Congress gets to decide “what grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions will be punishable? I presume that means that if a 50%+1majority of Congressmen decide that some heinous form of physical or mental abuse is OK, and the president goes along (which he will) then the Geneva Conventions will be null and void. That is a re-writing of international law in my book.
It gets worse:
Aside from “grave breaches,” the president would have the power to decide what methods may be used. But for the first time, he must publish the rules in the Federal Register for all to see.
So both the Congress and the president have the ability to unilaterally redefine the terms of the Geneva Convention. They get to decide which parts of the Geneva Convention rules they will break. No wonder they reached a compromise — share and share alike!
McCain, showing how far he’ll go to become the next Torturer-in-Chief, pronounces the entire deal to be OK:
“There is no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved,” McCain said after hours of closed-door, often tense negotiations.
No. Just no. You can’t have it both ways, Senator McCain. The fact is, this law guts the Geneva Convention which, by the way, is the law of the land. In effect, the Republicans have violated the US Constitution, something they are sworn to uphold.
How so? Article VI of the US Constitution, in part, says this:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
That means that the Geneva Conventions are the law of the land. And no “law” passed by Congress and signed by the president can make it otherwise.
The only question left is this: where are the Democrats? Will they stand up for the Constitution? Senator Reid‘s initial statement on the “compromise” was not encouraging:
Democrats are united behind the need to work on a bipartisan basis to bring terrorists to justice, and to do it in a manner consistent with our laws, our values, and our national security. Hopefully, today’s press conference means that President Bush and the congressional Republican leadership have changed course and listened to numerous national security experts such as General Colin Powell. Five years after 9/11, it is time to make the tough and smart decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve.
This isn’t about security Mr. Reid. The fact is, the president and members of Congress are sworn to uphold the US Constitution. If you break that simple but powerful oath, you should be kicked out of office at the earliest possible opportunity.