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John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham say it's okay for foreign governments to nearly drown US troops

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(Click photo to see larger, readable copy.)

The above treatment of prisoners of war, including American troops imprisoned abroad, is what McCain, Warner, Graham and George Bush apparently agreed to yesterday. That foreigners have the right to nearly drown American troops (see "water boarding" photo and description below), and the US government thinks this is totally acceptable. No physical harm, no foul - so say our brave Republicans in the congress and the White House.

This is water boarding

Here's a lovely description of the "it's not torture" technique of water boarding, first used in the Middle Ages (yes, it's that humane) - we're talking the year 1556 folks - that the Republican Congress and White House apparently think is an okay way to treat American troops - courtesy of Newsweek. (Click the image to see a readable version.)

(And it's funny, cuz last November 21, 2005, John McCain penned a column for Newsweek in which the oh-so-principled Senator said, explicitly, that water boarding WAS torture. Imagine that, John McCain blustering for the media and then privately caving on a matter of "principle." Apparently McCain was against water boarding before he was for it.)

McCain, Warner, Graham and Bush didn't just agree to what Bush could do to terrorists. They agreed to what ANY COUNTRY can do under the Geneva Conventions to any prisoner of war. And that includes what any country can do to US troops.

Why won't the White House, or McCain, tell us if water boarding is now illegal?

At best, the White House is refusing to say what techniques are and aren't outlawed under this agreement. And why is that? If something is outlawed, why can't they just say it? I mean, do we pass rape criminal statues that don't not mention the word rape? What are they hiding?

From George Bush's National Security Adviser's own lips just yesterday, via the National Review Web site:

[Stephen] Hadley said the deal does three things on the question of detainee treatment. One, it will "enumerate those actions that will constitute violations of Common Article Three, that are grave breaches of Common Article Three." Two, it affirms the Detainee Treatment Act, or the McCain Amendment, and "provides that the president will take action to ensure compliance." And three, "There is a provision that makes clear that the president has the authority, as provided by the Constitution and this legislation...for the U.S. to interpret the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, including Common Article Three."

When asked what would constitute "grave breaches" of Common Article Three, Hadley listed "torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, causing serious bodily injury, and sexual assault or abuse." He was asked whether water boarding would be on that list, and he answered, "We are not going to get into a discussion of particular techniques." As for the president's interpreting the meaning of Common Article Three, it appears the deal recognizes the president's authority to issue executive orders clarifying the nature of violations that do not rise to the standard of "grave breaches."
Get that? They won't discuss water boarding. But it sure doesn't sound like it's covered. They're only covering acts that physically harm the person in custody. So, nearly drowning them would apparently be fine, so long as there's no physical harm. Mock executions? That's okay too, I guess. All of this is perfectly fine behavior vis-à-vis our troops, per George Bush and his brave Republicans in Congress.

Funny, last year McCain said water boarding WAS torture

It is ironic, to say the least, that John McCain wrote an article for Newsweek in which he made it quite clear that water boarding IS torture. And I quote John McCain:
For instance, there has been considerable press attention to a tactic called "water boarding," where a prisoner is restrained and blindfolded while an interrogator pours water on his face and into his mouth—causing the prisoner to believe he is being drowned. He isn't, of course; there is no intention to injure him physically. But if you gave people who have suffered abuse as prisoners a choice between a beating and a mock execution, many, including me, would choose a beating. The effects of most beatings heal. The memory of an execution will haunt someone for a very long time and damage his or her psyche in ways that may never heal. In my view, to make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture.
So water boarding and mock executions ARE torture. Okay, then have our friends in the media pushed McCain on whether water boarding and mock executions are or are not outlawed by this wonderful agreement? And if not, why not? That is, after all, their job. (Then again, McCain's backroom cave on torture shouldn't surprise anyone. This is the man who for weeks blustered about needing to ban torture of detainees at Gitmo, then after his no-torturte-at-Gitmo legislation was passed Bush simply issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the law if he wanted. What did McCain do after that? Not much.)

McCain's "deal" gives Bush the right to do whatever he wants. Wow, some deal.

So keep all of this in mind when you hear all the august Republican gentlemen, and their rubber-stamp buddies in the media, talking about what a great deal the "republican rebels" worked out. What they worked out was a deal that says that everything Bush has done to prisoners of war to date is a-okay. And that anything in the future that Bush "interprets" as being permitted under the Geneva Conventions is also a-okay. (Today's Washington Post editorial explains it in detail.)

Let me reiterate that. The standard is whether George Bush, man of nuance that he is, THINKS what he is doing is permitted or not. Let's all guess what Bush is going to think about his own policies?

John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham just reached agreement on what foreign governments and foreign actors can do to US troops in their custody. And what that agreement says is that a foreign government or actor can do whatever it thinks is appropriate to US troops.

Let the water-boarding of US troops begin. Then let's ask McCain, Warner, Graham and Bush to explain why think it's okay for foreign governments to nearly drown American troops.

Republican rebels? Try rebels without a cause.

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