Well it looks like W has managed to wrangle maverick John McCain and the other torture dissenters back into the herd. As I understand it we will codify the acts that are considered grave breaches, well let’s have Byron York of NRO do a better job of explaining that.
How did that come about, giving the president what he wanted while still addressing McCain/Graham/Warner’s concerns? The key to the deal was the decision to have Congress define, in U.S. law, what are called “grave breaches” of the Geneva Convention. “We recognized that the president has the authority to interpret treaties,” says the source aligned with McCain/Graham/Warner, “but Congress now has the authority to define ‘grave breaches.’” In doing so, the negotiators enumerated nine offenses that everyone agreed constituted a grave breach of the treaty: torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, causing serious bodily injury, and sexual assault or abuse, and taking hostages.
The importance of delineating these offenses is to ensure that any actions taken that do not rise to this level are permissible.
“But what is clear is that, after defining grave breaches, Congress gave the administration significant leeway to define non-grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. “Grave breaches are crimes,” the source says. “Non-grave breaches are something else….We are going to spell out grave breaches, and then it is up to the administration to come up with sanctions for violations that are less than grave breaches.”
The end result is that US law wil now determine the legality of any actions taken by US personnel anywhere around the world and that interpretation of our obligations under the Geneva Conventions was jointly determined by the two branches of government elected by the people and most representative of the country’s will. This was necessary to ensure that Human Rights watch or another fellow traveling NGO doesn’t sue a CIA interrogator and venue shop untl they find an amenable judge. The ACLU came out against it about 5 minutes after it was announced, which is a good sign. It appears that all of the evil coercive interrogation techniques would be allowed, although there is some quibbling about waterboarding. Having personal experience with waterboarding in training (I signed zee papah!) I was heartened to see this clip of ABC’s Brian Ross confirming that Khalid “Skeikh Sheikh Sheikh” Mohammed took a waterboarding, caved quickly and gave up a bunch of actionable intel. From HotAir which has the vid.
Anti-”torture” absolutists like Sullivan adamantly deny that harsh tactics produce reliable information. It’s their way of avoiding the moral dilemma presented by a ticking time-bomb scenario. But they’ll have to face it now, because in four short minutes Brian Ross utterly explodes that particular article of quasi-religious faith as fantasy. Not only did they break Khaled Sheikh Mohammed; not only was the information he gave them valuable; not only did it save lives; but Ross’s sources include people within the CIA who are opposed to the practices.
I say again, coercive interrogation works and is not torture, just being very mean to bad guys for a short time. The best part of this deal, I think, is that it legally authorizes our intel folks to do what they have been, which has been effective. Plus it completely destroys the Dems wails about TORTURE, and they not only lose it as a trumped-up issue, but they get zero credit for helping fight terror AND you just know some of them will fight it and make the rest look weak on terror. This is a masteful peace of political judo where the Dems leaned much farther than the American public on how nice we have be to bad guys, and then W turned and whomped them to the mat with Johnny Maverick as his second. Not only have they ensured we can effectively and legally interrogate bad guys, but Republicans had an actual substantive debate and showed that they are not a monlithic block, but representatives of voters all over America who want to be safe.