President Bush this morning proudly signed into law a bill that critics consider one of the most un-American in the nation's long history.My bolding above points out the key aspect of the law that GW desperately wanted and needed, thus protecting himself from any future legal prosecution and potential jail time.
The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture.
Here's the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules. The law would apparently subject terror suspects to some of the same sorts of brutal interrogation tactics that have historically been prosecuted as war crimes when committed against Americans.
Here's the clear message to the voters: This Congress is willing to rubberstamp pretty much any White House initiative it sees as being in its short-term political interests. (And I don't just mean the Republicans; 12 Senate Democrats and 32 House Democrats voted for the bill as well.)
Here's the clear message to the Supreme Court: Review me.
But history's questions may in fact be quite different: How far did we allow fear to drive us from our core values? How did a terror attack lead our country to abandon its commitment to fairness and the rule of law? How mercilessly were we willing to treat those we suspected to be our enemies? How much raw, unchecked power were we willing to hand over to the executive?
To be able to torture at will and toss aside habeas corpus -- that was all just gravy.