The Washington Post homes in on the essential fiction that the president is telling about his position on military interrogation: that he wants "clarity" for interrogators. There already is clarity. What Bush wants is a vague and utterly subjective standard against treatment that merely "shocks the conscience." As we know, what shocks the conscience of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is not what shocks the conscience of most of mankind. Common Article 3 is not vague. It is crystal clear. It bans what Mr Bush has illegally authorized and wants to continue practising. Money quote:
Common Article 3, which prohibits cruel treatment and humiliation, is an inflexible standard. The U.S. military, which lived with it comfortably for decades before the Bush administration, just reembraced it after a prolonged battle with the White House. The Army issued a thick manual this month that tells interrogators exactly what they can and cannot do in complying with the standard. The nation's most respected military leaders have said that they need and want nothing more to accomplish the mission of detaining and interrogating enemy prisoners - and that harsher methods would be counterproductive.
Mr. Bush wants to replace these clear rules with a flexible and subjective standard - one that would legalize any method that does not "shock the conscience." What shocks the conscience? According to Mr. Bush's Justice Department, the torture techniques described above - and at least in the past, waterboarding - do not, "in certain circumstances." So Mr. Bush's real objection to Common Article 3 is not that it is vague. It is that it will not permit abusive practices that he isn't willing publicly to discuss or defend.
These people do not even have the courage to demand that the United States withdraw from the Geneva Convention. They want to do so by stealth and by lying. This time, they must be stopped by the Congress. And in November, we must ensure we have a new Congress that will prevent the United States government from committing war-crimes in the future.
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