The Bush administration, having run its sordid course, is almost done, but that doesn't mean its crimes and wrongdoings should go unchronicled. The administration is the same callous monster its allows been, and though the beast is wounded, it is not yet dead.
> From the Intelligence Daily (via a friend): the White House simultaneously criticizes torture and vetoes an anti-torture bill.
The US State Department's new annual human rights report accuses China of "extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners and the use of forced labor." Russia and Sudan were also especially criticized. Ten countries were named as under "unaccountable rulers [who] remained the world's most systematic human rights violators": North Korea, Burma, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan. It noted improvements in Mauritania, Ghana, Morocco and Haiti, but little or no progress in Nepal, Russia, Georgia Kyrghyzstan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Iraq. (AlJazeera, March 11)
Congressional Republicans March 11 upheld President Bush's veto of a bill to bar the CIA from using "waterboarding" and other such "interrogation methods" against "enemy combatants." John McCain opposed the bill, saying: "I think that waterboarding is torture and illegal, but I will not restrict the CIA to only the Army Field Manual." Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both backed the bill and denounced Bush's veto. (Reuters, March 11)
Note that John McCain opposes the bill. It appears he only opposes torture carried out by the military (this exposing our troops to reciprocal torture. Also note that some of the of the countries we condemned for torture we send people to for the so that they can be tortured. Disgusting.
> The White House finally gets a bloody nose. See this post.
The administration threw everything it had at the Democrats. Statement after statement after statement on the White House lawn. TV ads, web ads. Letters from the attorney general and director of national intelligence raising the alarm about the danger the country is in. Even a TV appearance by the DNI himself to highlight the "increased danger."
And what did it get them? At the end of last week, nearly a month after the Protect America Act lapsed, the House passed a bill that does not contain retroactive immunity -- the bill even contains a provision that dispenses with the administration's main legal argument for blocking the lawsuits, the state secrets privilege.
So what now? No one on the Democratic side of the aisle seems to have bought the administration's line that the lapse of the Protect America Act is cause for concern. Wiretaps authorized by that law can go until August of this year. Wiretaps of new targets would have to be authorized under the old FISA law. But the authorities granted by the PAA are so broad (it authorizes wiretaps of entire terrorist groups) that as of two weeks after the law's lapse, no warrants of wiretaps for new targets had yet been required. That makes the administration's claim that such warrant requests will create a mountain of paperwork look pretty silly.