It’s getting ugly out there. As was reported this morning, the Bush administration is trying to limit the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision holding that terror suspects have a right to protections under the Geneva Conventions. As the New York Times put it this morning, “administration lawyers urged Congress to pass legislation that would narrowly define the rights granted to detainees under a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article Three, which guarantees legal rights ‘recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.’” (That’s quite a different interpretation of the matter than the Times offered up yesterday, by the way.)


Marty Lederman at Balkinazation suggests that what’s really happening is that, “The administration is asking Congress for statutory authorization for the United States to violate Common Article 3. That’s what Lindsey Graham means when he says ‘that Common Article Three must be “reined in.”’ One administration official calls Article 3 “too vague,” to which Lederman responds, “Common Article 3 wasn’t too ‘vague’ for the 53 years that preceded February 2002. And it’s not now. The problem, from the administration’s view, is not that its standards are too vague, but that they’re too restrictive.”


Barking Moonbat, in case you were wondering, isn’t happy with the whole deal, either, but for different reasons. “We are going to lose the War On Terror,” he writes, “Why? Because the bleeding heart Liberals, the media, the Angry Left in America and especially the Democratic Party do not want to win the war.” Funny, we thought the recent Supreme Court ruling was to blame for the current administration exercise in CYA, not the liberal media and the Democrats in Congress. And, as it turns out, so does Moonbat, who, after batting various editors and members of Congress about the head and shoulders, does a neat reversal of field and opines, “When the Supreme Court stepped into the war and started laying out rules of engagement for the current conflict, they overstepped their authority in clear violation of the separation of powers intent in the Constitution. They are also going to lose the war for us by agreeing to the enemy’s conditions, namely to force our military to fight a ‘civilized war’ under Geneva Convention rules … while the enemy is free to use whatever means necessary to accomplish his goals, including the most barbaric behavior imaginable and guerilla warfare on the lowest levels.”


Some might argue that what separates us from the barbarism practiced by the terrorists is that we don’t engage in “the most barbaric behavior imaginable.” Isn’t that the point of the whole war?


As Andrew Sullivan notes this morning, “the real policy of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld is not to acquiesce to the Geneva Conventions (they got their one-day headline to confuse critics) — but to legislatively revoke them. This can be done. It would remove the United States from the company of decent nations in warfare, it would rewrite a formerly binding treaty unilaterally, and it would specifically authorize … other techniques.”


“Suspected al Qaeda terrorists have been held without any signs of due process for years,” notes Maine Democrats, before asking, “Perhaps the bigger question is why haven’t they been processed? Was there [even]a plan to do more than arrest anyone who looked suspicious?”

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.