I think that this passage is going to badly damage and undermine our credibility on the war on terror among the international community even further.
Although Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner, along with Colin Powell, publicly resisted Mr. Bush‘s demand that they redefine the Geneva Conventions, the final agreement also says "The president has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions."
To put it another way, the central question of what CIA interrogators may do to suspects who might be innocent would be determined not by law but by Bush himself, and that he would have to release publicly those executive orders when he issues them. And though the final deal explicitly states the definition of torture as "severe physical or mental pain and suffering", it also seems to leave open the door ajar on alternative interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, as previously explained in a previous thread Local Rebel stated here.
So the upshoot of this deal is that torture is not prohibited, and really leaves the president with a wide scope of executive power. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor from George Washington University who I saw discussing about this last week on "Countdown" on MSNBC I think gave a great analogy, where this is like "telling a teenager that I don‘t want you driving at 90 miles an hour" and then he thinks "Gosh, I can live with that, I‘d go to 89!"
This also gives an earlier torture memo some legitimacy, where Alberto Gonzales said in that memo that that they could do anything short of organ failure or death. And when you bundle it all up with that John Yoo memo following the September 11th attacks that basically suggested that the president could do anything he wants as long as he's fighting terrorism, it leaves our international law and treaties vulnerable to grave violations and moral cavities.
Moreover, in this case, the Geneva Convention cannot be cited in a federal case or trial. In terms of democracy, it basically tells everyone, "You can look, but you can't touch and you can't play!" You also can't cite international sources in foreign cases under this.
It's exactly bills like this that reiterate why we have become so unpopular in the international community recently, why just last week at the United Nations General Assembly wackos like Hugo Chavez appeared to have warmer receptions than Bush when he spoke there. I feel there's great reason to believe we've arguably become more unpopular than at any other time in our nation's history.
The majority of the American public is to the left of the Democratic Party collectively on this issue. A CBS/NYT poll conducted last week revealed that a majority believes torture is never justified (56%-35%) while an even greater majority believes that we should follow international conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war (63%-32%) The Democrats are weak not because most of them opposed this bill, it's rather the opposite; they're weak because while McCain, Graham and Warner challenged Bush, the Democrats just stood aside, appearing like feckless observers on the sidelines.
But worst of all here, it's this sort of behavior that's going to encourage other countries to feel as though they can walk around international law too, and it also puts our young men and women in uniform in greater danger in result.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"