Now this is horseshit -- Eric Schmitt of the New York Times writes, "New Army Rules May Snarl Talks With McCain on Detainee Issue":
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotioations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday.
The addendum provides dozens of examples and goes into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and it what circumstances. Army interrogators have never had a set of such specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.
Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the White House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.
In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, some Army and other Pentagon officials raised concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.
"This is a stick in McCain's eye," one official said. "It goes right up to the edge. He's not going to be comfortable with this"... (#)
As I recall, McCain's bill passed in the Senate by a 90-9 margin. This bill requires that military interrogations be conducted in accordance with the Army field manual. The manual goes by the Geneva Conventions, which strongly oppose brutalizing prisoners of war. Bush & Co. have long insisted that detainees in the war against terrorism are not prisoners of war. That bit of illogic doesn't seem to be working anymore, so now people in the Defense Department are trying to amend the rules. This is a stick in the eye of everyone who sides with McCain when it comes to the question of torture. It is half willful tunnel vision, half juvenile mischief.
Let's just put aside the fact that torture doesn't work for a minute. What's up with this executive branch need to have sanctioned torture techniques in place, anyway? If we do not torture, then why are these negotiations occurring? Why did McCain's bill even have to be introduced?
What this also says is that our powers that be can't measure up to our own Army filed manual -- so they're pulling it down to their level. They're dumbing down their own standards in the hope that it'll make this problem go away. It worked (for a while) when they said captives in the war against terrorism weren't prisoners of war -- maybe it'll work a second time.
Or maybe not. Bush doesn't have the 70-plus-percent popular support he boasted of four years ago. Very few Americans had ever heard of Abu Ghraib back then. There was no talk of going to war with Iraq, never mind of fighting a losing battle against an insurgency there.
But like they say, "As above, so below": Bush made up his mind to "stay the course" in Iraq, and if he has his way, we're staying in Iraq. His stubbornness has spread to his subordinates and to other parts of the government. It's been decided that the "torture option" must remain available, so now like-stubborn-minded members of the government are working to legitimize it and assure its availability.
Gahddamn, aren't you glad the grown-ups are in charge?