Trying to Keep a Straight Face
As a personal friend of the president, I know more about presidents than most people. I have to rule on the president's powers, I can call 'im up and say, "Hey, Mr. President, do you have the constitutional authority to indefinitely detain prisoners without due process?" And he'll say "You bet."
Now, in another Fafblog interview, Condoleezza Rice comes through with disarming frankness:
FB: ....what's wrong with good ol fashioned American torturers? Aren't we just shippin their jobs overseas?
RICE: First of all, we don't send prisoners off to be tortured, Fafnir. We just transport prisoners to countries where torture happens to be legal and where they happen to end up getting tortured.
FB: Well that explains everything then! It's all just a wacky misunderstanding, like that episode a Three's Company where Jack sends Janet off to Uzbekistan to get boiled alive by the secret police.
RICE: I'd also like to point out that whenever we send a prisoner to a country that routinely tortures prisoners, that country promises us NOT to torture them.
FB: And then they get tortured anyway!
RICE: Yes, they do! It's very strange.
FB: Over and over again, every time! That's gotta be so frustrating.
RICE: Oh it is, it is.
If the rendition thing has caused a lot of unseemly winking and nudging between Condi and "our allies," according to Kenneth Anderson of Uncapitalist Journal it may also involve something of a private joke between Bush and John McCain. The McCain Amendment provides that
No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation. [emphasis Anderson's]
But lo and behold, the list in that Field Manual seems to have gotten a bit longer, according to the New York Times:
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods.... The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy. [again, emphasis Anderson's]Does that mean the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation is a "living document"?
Anderson also links to some other rather creepy indications that Bush has decided, for some reason, that the McCain Amendment isn't so bad after all.
Bottom line: torture has been illegal for a long, long time, and it's been going on for an equally long time with support (of varying degrees of directness) from the SOA, Green Berets, and God knows who else. Passing a new law that says "and we really mean it this time" should have about as much real restraining effect on the Executive branch as, say, the Boland Amendment.