Congress is expected to act quickly on two stalled defense bills — including a $453 billion must-pass wartime spending measure — now that President Bush has agreed to a proposal to ban cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of terrorism detainees in U.S. custody.As with anything that involves a pledge by George, there is a catch.
In a reversal, the president bowed to pressure from the GOP-controlled Congress and accepted the proposal put forth by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on handling foreign terrorism suspects and limiting interrogation tactics used by American troops.
Bush's endorsement Thursday came after months of opposition that included White House veto threats of any bill that contained the McCain provisions.
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The legislation would prohibit "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. It also would require that service members follow procedures in the Army Field Manual during interrogations of prisoners. (emphasis mine)Can you guess what their next step will be? That's right, modify the Army Field Manual to provide a loophole for the torture exercises they have grown quite too fond of using.
The real test now will be whether the Army Field Manual revisions will be approved. It will provide yet another example of which political party enjoys serving as apologists for torture.
The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.
The addendum provides dozens of examples and goes into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and in what circumstances. Army interrogators have never had a set of such specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.
Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.
What a nightmare.