What amazes me is that so many Americans still don't mind. It seems like he can do anything at all and as long as he claims it will help "the war on terror", people will still support him. Now, I like to think that Bush's victory in 2004 was caused by the lousiness of the alternative, John Kerry. That's why I advocate electoral reform, so we can have more than two "real" choices. But when I see that 41% of voters "approve" of Bush's perfomance (or maybe 44%), my hope dwindles a little. Even though 55% disapprove (45% strongly), I wonder why the rest of the people don't see what he's up to.
And what is he up to know? Well, there's a bill (here's a data sheet) that has just passed that will kill Habeas Corpus for some detainees. Forget the flowery description on Bush's web site; as Human Rights Watch explained before the bill's passing:
In its immediate practical impact, the most damaging of the bill’s provisions is clearly its “court-stripping” provision, which would bar detainees in U.S. custody anywhere around the world from challenging the legality of their detention or their treatment via habeas corpus actions, even if they have been subjected to torture. Innocent people could be locked up forever, without ever having the facts of their case reviewed by an independent court.Indeed, there is no requirement that an "enemy combatant" actually be involved in combat, and since no proof is required to apply the label, there is no guarantee that he or she is an "enemy" at all. The bill also sounds subjective, allowing top officials to make up new policies:
If held to be constitutional, the court-stripping provision would result in more than 200 pending cases being ejected from the courts, including the case that resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark detainee ruling in June.
The bill has other dangerous provisions as well. The latest version of the legislation includes an extremely dangerous expansion in the bill’s definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” – a phrase used by the administration to justify holding a combatant outside of the usual protections given to combatants by the Geneva Conventions. It now explicitly deems persons who have “purposefully and materially supported” hostilities against the United States to be combatants, an unprecedented redefinition of “combatant” that could potentially cover a range of innocent people. Financing and support for terrorist activities are already criminal offenses in the civilian justice system. This definition would pervert any reasonable concept of what a combatant is.
Moreover, the provision also gives carte blanche to the Pentagon to call anyone an “unlawful enemy combatant.” All it requires is that the person be deemed an unlawful combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (the administrative bodies used at Guantánamo) or “another competent tribunal” established under presidential or military authority.The only plus side in this bill is that Bush didn't get all he wanted:
...the Secretary of Defense is to be delegated the power to create new rules and procedures if he or she considers the use of their courts-martial equivalents to be impracticable.
The legislation rejects the Bush administration’s attempt to explicitly rewrite the humane treatment requirements of the Geneva Conventions and to decriminalize all interrogation practices short of torture. On “Face the Nation,” last Sunday, Senator John McCain made clear that practices such as waterboarding, extreme sleep deprivation and induced hypothermia will continue to be war crimes if the legislation is passed.I wonder if the U.S. is so polarised that Bush supporters completely ignore what the opposition is saying, assuming that it's all lies intended to make Bush look bad. Indeed, some of the rhetoric against Bush goes too far, and maybe that turns people off. For example, maybe the first paragraph of this post goes too far. But after Bush has abused the world so much, it starts getting hard to restrain myself.
The bill does, however, narrow the scope of the War Crimes Act; it bars the Geneva Conventions from being invoked in any suit against the U.S. government, gives the president power to interpret “the meaning and application” of the Geneva Conventions, and prohibits the courts from relying on foreign or international law sources in deciding cases involving certain violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.