Monday, September 25, 2006
Republicans heal rift, but deal on detainees falls short
Mon Sep 25, 7:07 AM ET
The skids are greased in Congress this week to rush through a deal on how terror suspects should be interrogated and prosecuted.
Republicans were quick to embrace the deal over the past four days as a way to patch up an awkward rift between the White House and three GOP senators. And most Democrats, fearful of being painted as soft on terrorism, are expected to go along.
While the lawmakers would be elated to get this messy issue behind them before they go home to campaign for re-election, it's worth being wary of a quick fix for an intricate issue that defines the nation's values and how the world sees us.
Can America devise a system to extract valuable information from suspected terrorists without engaging in torture or endangering U.S. troops who become prisoners? Can the nation detain those who would do us harm while giving the falsely accused the right to challenge their detentions?
Those are difficult questions, and last week's ballyhooed "compromise" does not provide all the right answers, particularly in two key areas:
•Judicial review. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the deal is that it would bar detainees - including minor players and even those who maintain they are innocent bystanders - from challenging their detentions in court. Known as habeas corpus, that's a prisoner's right to have an independent judge review whether he is being held without justification.
•Interrogations. The deal would legitimize what President Bush has called "alternative" forms of interrogation by the CIA, but which others have defined as tantamount to torture.
Terry's Comment: I hope someone in Washington has sense enough to realize that the Bush administration could use the same law to place those they may term domestic terrorists into concentration camps and use "alternative" forms of interrogation for political purposes. It's quite evident that the Bush administration believes that anyone against the Iraq war or their policies is a travelling companion to terrorists.
Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
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