World to end shortly: Senate vote on detainee bill forthcoming; Update: Bill passes

posted at 4:38 pm on September 28, 2006 by Allahpundit

I got caught behind the curve on this story, for which I truly and sincerely apologize. It’s obviously a big one, and the nutroots has gone berserk over it even by normal berserker nutroots standards. Blazing blue WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin calls it “a defining moment for this nation.” The even bluer Dahlia Lithwick at Slate says it’s a “watershed”:

Now we are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture we’ll never hear about. Instead of detainees we didn’t care about, we are authorizing detentions we’ll never know about. Instead of being misled by the president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that is a shame on us all.

Slate’s actually put together a clickable “taxonomy of torture” that graphically illustrates all the things the CIA will be able to do to Ayman al-Zawahiri once they have him in custody.

Meanwhile, Greg Tinti’s got video of Pat Leahy on the Senate floor comparing the bill to practices used by the Taliban, Saddam, or characters “in the fiction of Kafka.”

For sheer shrillness, though, one newspaper tops them all. Guess:

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Strong words. Weighing it all in the balance and discounting for the usual Bush = Hitler paranoia, I’m forced to conclude that the bill is, in fact, probably very mildly bad.

But see, even when I’m inclined to believe them and take their side, I really can’t because I catch them either exaggerating or outright lying. For example, the Times describes one of the flaws in the bill this way:

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Well, no. Those two aren’t always contradictory, no matter how much Pope Andrew I wishes they were. Watch the Brian Ross video and listen to him patiently explain how information coerced from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed proved to be quite reliable indeed. And ended up saving god knows how many Californians’ (blue state!) lives.

They want us to debate honestly on this. Fine. I’m willing to, if it’s a genuinely honest debate. The first step of which is for us to concede we don’t want innocent people or even not-so-innocent people who are guilty of ordinary crimes to be mistreated, and for them to concede that in some instances these tactics are important and effective. If we start from the position that no one should be tortured even if we credibly believe it will prevent airplanes from being flown into skyscrapers, then we are at what is known as an unbridgeable impasse.

Vote’s upcoming. I’ll update with the roll when it’s done. In the meantime, our eternal allies are pursuing security Saudi-style.

Update: Jonah’s in the same spot I’m in.

I’ve now heard two very different versions of the detainee bill compromise. One version, a la, Bruce Ackerman in the LA Times, says that Americans can be unilaterally declared enemy combatants and deprived of habeus [sic] corpus (this also seems to be Specter’s version). The other version says this isn’t true because the Hamdi decision and other safeguards don’t allow it and even detained enemy combatants can challenge the enemy combatant designation. I have not had a chance to study any of the fine print. Anyone know of an honest broker who has sorted through all of this in a clear-headed and non-partisan manner?

Ditto. Anyone?

Update: According to DU, Reid doesn’t have the 40 votes needed for a filibuster.

Update: It’s 5:08. Fox says the vote is imminent.

Update: A Freudian slip germane to this post by the headline writer at CNN’s Political Ticker:


Update: Who said it? “I think that I’ve become — I hope — a credible spokesman for a muscular view of anti-terrorist activity by the Democrats as well as the country. The fact is, I’ve never been just an anti-war guy.”

Bush is taking off the gloves:

“Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstructionism and endless second-guessing. The party of FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt), the party of Harry Truman, has become the party of cut and run,” Bush told more than 2,000 cheering loyalists in a Republican fund-raising speech.

Update: 65-34, it passes. Waiting for the roll.

Update: Here’s the roll. Joementum must be feeling pretty confident to vote with the GOP on this. Sharpen that blade, Liebs.


Update: This is unfortunate:

By mostly party-line votes, the Senate rejected Democratic efforts to limit the bill to five years, to require frequent reports from the administration on the CIA’s interrogations and to add a list of forbidden interrogation techniques.

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This is all I could find.

Capitol Hill-AP) September 28, 2006 – A big win for President Bush as the Senate works on the military tribunal bill.

The Senate narrowly defeated, 51-48, an effort by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter to let terrorism suspects challenge their imprisonment in court.

DannoJyd on September 28, 2006 at 4:55 PM

My gut reaction would be “Check Volokh,” but I haven’t bothered to do that myself just yet.

Mark V. on September 28, 2006 at 4:56 PM

When the next terrorist attack hits us, we are going to look back at this as a silly moment – this is what we argued about while our enemies planned the next attack. We are not yet serious about fighting this war.

gash on September 28, 2006 at 5:09 PM

Senator Depends is still alive?

JammieWearingFool on September 28, 2006 at 5:16 PM

It seems as if the Rules of Engagement were made by insane people. Waterboarding is done to our own troops and CIA to prepare them should they be captured, how could it be torture? Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but isn’t it supposed to be? We certainly aren’t cutting off their headsm and showing it on t.v! Muslim extremists are largely cowards, made so by their belief system. They get to blow people up and go straight to “heaven”, don’t pass “GO” don’t collect the 200 dollars. No long prison stretches, no falling into the hands of people who might, “Do unto them” etc. They are given permission by their beliefs to LIE, to cheat, to steal and to kill children. Other radical systems that have existed on Earth, have actually included “honor” as a tenent of their beliefs, just not radical Islam. In the old west, shooting someone in the back was actually frowned upon, Billy the Kid notwithstanding. In the “Knights of the Roundtable” era, they’d cut your head off soon as look at you, providing you first insulted a damsel or something. Then they’d make an appointment with you, provide weapons AND a guy to take your place should you bail! Armies would traditionally wait for their opponents to assemble their forces, so polite where they, that attacking a castle was known as a SIEGE, because it could take months! It included armed sorties and frequent pauses for negotation. So there have been radical, even bloodthirsty ideologies which include some notion of “honor” towards ones enemies, Islam simply doesn’t. That’s why CO-ERCIVE interrogation WORKS. Because nothing in radical Islam toughens their “warriors” ! That’s why they generally FLEE the field of battle when the going gets tough! Saddams supposedly “elite” Republican Guard, bailed “quicker’n a mouse at a cat convention”! And they aren’t even conflicted enough to call it “re-deployment”. “Coercive Interrogation” generally works on cowards, even though the danger of “waterboarding” etc, is only PERCEIVED, danger. No one’s actually going to kill them, usually. The barbaric practices of our enemies, however, will break even the bravest man, obviously. So even with our most aggresive techniques we are far behind the savagery of our adversaries.

Soothsayer on September 28, 2006 at 5:23 PM

Mark V.,
Eugene Volokh says he hasn’t been commenting on this because it’s not his area of expertise in law and it’s not something easy to dive into without any expertise.

I just want to know whether a wiffle ball bat to the groin as an interrogation technique is legal or not.

frankj on September 28, 2006 at 5:25 PM

Reid could have still filibustered – Billy Jack style – if he really cared about the Constitution

One Tin Senator vs the BFEE and the Corporationist DINO’s

Songs would have been sung about Reid around hippy drum circles for generations to come…

rw on September 28, 2006 at 5:27 PM

I should have figured that Allah would get the CNN Freudian slip first…I posted it, too. CNN finally fixed it. Took them about a half hour…and no word on a correction.

Ennuipundit on September 28, 2006 at 5:30 PM

Ditto what the Soothsayer says.


Subsunk on September 28, 2006 at 5:31 PM

Anyone know of an honest broker who has sorted through all of this in a clear-headed and non-partisan manner?

I’m sure Sully’s available…

Greg Tinti on September 28, 2006 at 5:32 PM

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other Republicans whom he described as “moderate,” charged that denying habeas corpus to detainees would be unconstitutional.

Since when do they have U.S. constitutional protection?

Entelechy on September 28, 2006 at 5:39 PM

Fear of reality or fear of perception?

Entelechy on September 28, 2006 at 5:43 PM

The text of the House bill, as passed, can be found through the Library of Congress here.

Section 948c appears to limit application of this Act to alien enemy combatants.

And since alien status is defined under 8 U.S.C. § 1101 as “any person not a citizen or national of the United States,” I’m having trouble rationalizing the Ackerman / Specter position insofar as it relates to U.S.-born resident citizens (if this is what’s meant by the term “American”).

In other words, even if the President determines that someone is an enemy combatant, that still doesn’t make him an alien enemy combatant subject to the provisions of the Act as far as I can tell.

I’ll keep reading ….

Blacksheep on September 28, 2006 at 5:48 PM

Whatever happened to out-of-uniform combatants being summarily executed on the battlefield for being spies?

The Senate elites have lost their collective mind.

Mojave Mark on September 28, 2006 at 5:55 PM

Crap — I see my links timed out. If you care to verify the links in my post above, go here and enter H.R.6166.EH into the Search Bill Text box, and be sure to click the Bill Number button rather than Word/Phrase. From there you can link through to Section 948c. Sorry about that.

Blacksheep on September 28, 2006 at 6:02 PM

Details of the Senate’s Detainee Bill

Entelechy on September 28, 2006 at 6:04 PM

Did Leahy just say that Bush let OBL go because he pulled Special Forces out of Afghanistan and sent them to Iraq… in 2001? That’s a new one.

rw on September 28, 2006 at 6:12 PM

When is A-nough, A-nough already…
No Geneva rights – they broke every rule.
NO Illegal Aliens
No trans Fat?
No time left …Book em Danno

Jarch007 on September 28, 2006 at 6:13 PM

finally, Bush has taken the gloves off & called out the Democrats for what they really are. too bad he didn’t do this for every public speech he made on nationl t.v.

Starblazer on September 28, 2006 at 6:36 PM

Upon further investigation, the proposed compromise bill pending before the Senate sufficiently differs from the House version passed yesterday that my analysis above has been superceded.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the final version looks like, as I’m still seeing updates and proposed amendments to the compromise version.

Gotta’ admit, though, from what I’ve read so far it looks like the House language has been extended to cover others of indeterminate origin who have provided material assistance to the terrrists.

More tomorrow if warranted ….

Blacksheep on September 28, 2006 at 6:37 PM


do you recall if Zywicki or Bernstein are abstaining as well for the same reason?

Mark V. on September 28, 2006 at 7:00 PM

it passed
Bush got basically what he wanted

Defector01 on September 28, 2006 at 7:10 PM

There are no pickpockets or convenience store stick-up kids in Gitmo. Who are we talking about here?

Martin on September 28, 2006 at 7:11 PM

34 democrats oppose it – gee, what a suprise

Starblazer on September 28, 2006 at 7:16 PM

I’m looking forward to seeing which Dems voted for it. I’m half inclined to send them a thank-you note.

mcg on September 28, 2006 at 7:24 PM

Mark V.,
Don’t recall anyone at discussing torture.

frankj on September 28, 2006 at 7:25 PM

Am I the only one stunned that the RINOS didn’t cave in? Why, oh why, can’t the Republicans be like this all the time. There’s nothing more America needs to see than a bunch of namby-pampy Democrats railing to protect TERRORISTS!

SouthernGent on September 28, 2006 at 7:25 PM

“Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstructionism and endless second-guessing. The party of FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt), the party of Harry Truman, has become the party of cut and run,” Bush told more than 2,000 cheering loyalists in a Republican fund-raising speech.

Why does this guy only show up once or twice a year?

RightWinged on September 28, 2006 at 7:28 PM

In November of 2001 every Democrat in office was yelling kill them, kill them. By the time one year had passed every liberal was screaming stop the violence, stop the violence.
Just exactly what does armed conflict mean to these pansies?
There doesn’t seem to be much of a problem with burning the enemy to death (there doesn’t seem to be much reaction to our young Men and Women dieing horribly by ‘some’ liberals either) in combat with a bomb, but considering the waterboarding of a terrorist who would gladly burn us all alive if only they could as some terrible war crime is just stupid.
How many times does the hypocrisy meter get pegged by these jokers anyway?
Simple (even for liberals) if you can’t stand the heat, stay out the hell out of the kitchen!

Speakup on September 28, 2006 at 7:42 PM

Hmm..are any of the dems that voted against it on the ballot this year? I would like to know. Only the far left with far left constituents could logically vote against this. I believe the Bush/Rove strategy and timing on this issue is priceless. Made the dems show thier true face or vote for it and he got what he wanted :D

lsutiger on September 28, 2006 at 7:54 PM


Just a quick look at the list, but Clinton(NY) and Byrd(WVA)
are at least two dems up for re-election in November. Both of them are expected to win by very wide margins though. Does not take too much bravery for Hillary or Bob Byrd to vote this way.

Let me rephrase Isutiger’s question………….Any dems that voted against it in reasonably tight races this fall?

BacaDog on September 28, 2006 at 8:49 PM

Watch the Brian Ross video and listen to him patiently explain how information coerced from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed proved to be quite reliable indeed. [Emphasis mine.]

Remember, I’m on AllahPundit’s side, and often considerably “to the right” of him. Regarding permissible techniques of interrogation, I would authorize use of the “Death by 10,000 Cuts” if interrogators asked. But I still think it’s worth pointing out that coerced information isn’t reliable even in cases in which, later, it’s proved accurate.

If you don’t know whether information is accurate at time t, it’s not reliable at time t. If it’s proved accurate at time (t + 1), it doesn’t retroactively become reliable at time t, even if at (t + 1) we retrospectively say it was reliable at t.

It would have been better to defeat Sullivan’s use of the unreliability of coerced information as a red herring. Even though coerced information is unreliable, one can profit from it by using it as a starting point for further investigation, until its accuracy is proved or disproved.

In fact, a more direct way to defeat Sullivan’s argument is to point out that although the coerced statements of terrorists aren’t reliable, neither are their uncoerced statements. But in either sort of case, information obtained from adversaries may be a starting point for further investigation.

Kralizec on September 28, 2006 at 9:12 PM

It looks to me as if Ann was right about Chafee.

Ok. Allah. You’ve lost me. Why “This is unfortunate“? I believe you might think that some abuses would be allowed, but I don’t see it that way.

DannoJyd on September 28, 2006 at 9:18 PM

On to the next one, tomorrow. Sen. E. Kennedy and Mexico are very upset!

Entelechy on September 28, 2006 at 10:09 PM

Mexico can protect “THEIR” borders with “THEIR” military & yet they get upset & complain that Congress has finally passed a bill to protect “OUR” borders with a 700 mile fence with security cameras & other security measures. what right does Mexico have any say in our poilices – “NONE!”

Starblazer on September 28, 2006 at 10:31 PM

If I’d had to sit through all this blather all day, I’ve have been irritable enough to smack down the 5 year stuff, too.

We’ve been hearing this nonsense for 5 years and the only thing that has come of it but wilder charges and more bizarre accusations. They have proven today that they haven’t the slightest interest in protecting us from terrorists. I have two words for them: “suicide pact.”

flataffect on September 28, 2006 at 10:56 PM

Warrantless wiretap law passed by the House:

bill passed 232-191.

“To always have reasons why you just can’t vote ‘yes,’ I think speaks volumes when it comes to which party is better able and more willing to take on the terrorists and defeat them,” Boehner said.

Entelechy on September 29, 2006 at 12:34 AM

Jarch007, that trans fat issue has really been bugging me lately, but I think I have a solution.

Fast food restaurants[?] need to stop selling french fries, and start selling American fries.

Let’s see the bone headed, incompetent, replace the toilet instead of using a plunger, grazing, clueless do-gooders fight that.

DannoJyd on September 30, 2006 at 3:12 AM

Entelechy, this is how I see it…

Those who always have excuses for why you must obstruct speaks volumes when it comes to which party is better able, and are more willing to take on the terrorists and defeat them. Those that can, do. Those that cannot join the Liberal Democrat Party.

DannoJyd on September 30, 2006 at 3:16 AM

Danno, and then there is the category of sane LDP members, i.e. Mr. Lieberman, who have to leave the party…it really speaks volumes for “moral victory”.

Entelechy on September 30, 2006 at 10:05 AM