Bloggers go to work on the Senate-passed detainee bill, and on a new poll that says most Iraqis want U.S. troops out of the country ASAP. Also, in eccentric billionaire news, Richard Branson has built a Virgin “spaceship.”
Geneva dissensions: The Senate has approved White House-proposed legislation that would establish procedures for trying and detaining “enemy combatants.” Many bloggers see it as a rubber stamp on torture, not to mention a violation of the Constitution—particularly the writ of habeas corpus—and the Geneva Conventions. Others maintain it is a necessary precaution for protecting Americans from terrorists.
Andrew Sullivan, the most outspoken conservative blogger against Bush’s detainee polices, is aghast: “If this Republican party maintains control of all branches of government, the danger to individual liberty is extremely grave. Put aside all your concerns about the Democratic leadership. What matters now is that this juggernaut against individual liberty and constitutional rights be stopped. The court has failed to stop it; the legislature has failed to stop it; only the voters can stop it now.” Sullivan even compares Hillary Clinton, who invoked the spirit of 1776 in a speech defying the Senate act, to Barry Goldwater.
Jack M. Balkin at lefty Balkinization writes that the legislation “continues to recognize that certain conduct is illegal, but attempts to eliminate all judicial remedies for such violations. That means that if the President violates the [Military Commissons Act], he still fails to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, which is his constitutional duty under Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution. … But the fact that the courts can’t offer a remedy doesn’t mean, I repeat, that the President has no duty to obey the law. And although he now has virtually conclusive authority to interpret non-grave breaches of Geneva, he does not have virtually conclusive authority to interpret either the Bill of Rights or the McCain Amendment.”
Liberal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly’sPolitical Animal wonders what the GOP thinks will happen when one of their own is out of the White House: “I wish conservatives could back away for a few minutes from their fear of breaking with a president of their own party and ask themselves if they want any president to have this power. The constitution is there for a reason, guys, and a day is going to come when you wish you hadn’t gutted it.”
But righty Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters has gone through the Geneva Conventions and remains unconvinced that the legislation violates any provision of them: “The entire point of the Geneva Conventions is to protect civilians. The rights afforded uniformed combatants and denied to all others are intended to motivate forces to distinguish themselves from civilians so that civilians do not get put at unnecessary risk by warfare. Terrorists undermine these rules of war by deliberately hiding among civilians and targeting them for their attacks. Giving terrorists the same rights as uniformed combatants under the GC not only doesn’t act to protect our troops, it legitimizes terrorist attacks on civilians.”
Read more about the detainee bill. In Slate, David J. Luban predicts the legislation will gut Nuremberg and other international law on war conduct, and Dahlia Lithwick says President Bush got everything he wanted.
Just leave, already: A University of Maryland poll finds that 71 percent of Iraqis want American forces to leave within the next year. While Sunnis seem to be warming to the idea of a sustained U.S. presence, Shiites—hitherto more accepting of that presence—have grown wearier because of targeted sectarian violence in the wake of the Samarra mosque bombing in February.
Alex at Martini Republic thinks this poll should make the scales fall from everyone’s eyes: “For all the Bush happy talk about a grateful Iraq being a stalwart ally in the war on terror, the reality is bleak. With the exception of the Kurdish minority living in the north … Iraq is a country full of people who resent Americans and distrust them. Not much basis for a grand alliance.”
“Wardytron” at British democratic socialist blog Harry’s Place, which supported regime change, reads the fine print and sees some cause for cautious optimism: “The report suggests that this hostility to US troops is related to the belief, held by 77% of Iraqis, that the US is planning permanent military bases, and says that the high approval rating for attacks on US forces might be ‘not because they are so eager for the US-led forces to get out immediately, but because they want to put pressure on the US to get out eventually (my italics).”
Former Reagan administration official Jack Kelly at Irish Pennants offers: “[T]here is little likelihood al Qaida could take over when we leave. The poll indicates just about everybody hates these guys, and they’ve sustained heavy losses. … The more serious danger to Iraq now comes from its neighbors, chiefly Iran, but also Turkey and Syria.”
Read more about the Iraqi poll.
Rocket mogul: Billionaire Brit Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the first Virgin “spaceship,” a six-passenger shuttle designed for suborbital space flight. Tickets are $190,000, there’s no first class, and don’t even think about cocktail service.
So, who gets to go first? According to BornRich, Brad and Angelina, of course: “Apparently, the couple has has already paid £115,000 each to ensure they have a seat on the jet. The couple will be accompanied by the superstar Robbie Williams and William Shatner.”
And naturally the Star Trek puns have only begun: “Check out the retro dials and funky helmets!” effuses techie blog Phicons. “I wonder if they will make it into the final interior? That has to be the coolest design job in the world today.”
Read more about the Virgin spaceship.