A Republican deal on terrorism trials and interrogations would give US President George W. Bush wide latitude to interpret standards for prisoner treatment, even though it does not include a provision he wanted regarding the Geneva Conventions.
The resulting legislation, if it is passed next week by Congress as Republicans hope, would revive the CIA's terrorist interrogation program because it would reduce the risk that agency workers could be convicted of war crimes.
The deal also could open the door to aggressive techniques that test the bounds of international standards of prisoner treatment.
"The key to this deal will be whether Congress exercises real oversight over the CIA interrogation program," said Democratic Representative Jane Harman, who as the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has been briefed on how the CIA handles terrorism suspects.
The Republican bill outlines specific war crimes such as torture and rape, but it also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of the Geneva Convention standards for less severe interrogation procedures.
Such a provision is intended to allow the president to authorize methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.
Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said the president plans to use this authority to clarify Geneva Convention obligations by executive order, which must be published in the Federal Register.
Harman said on Friday she wants the Bush administration to give Congress a list of techniques approved by the president and legal justification for the methods.
"If Congress does not demand this information, we will be giving the president another blank check to violate the law," she said.
Bush has been pushing legislation that would endorse the CIA program since June, when the Supreme Court ruled al-Qaeda members must be protected under the Geneva Conventions, a 1949 treaty that sets international standards for the treatment of war prisoners.
Before the court ruling, the legality of the interrogation program relied on Bush's assumption that the combatants were not protected under the treaty and therefore could be subjected to aggressive techniques.
US officials say the Supreme Court ruling, which also determined that the trials Bush established to prosecute the terrorists were illegal, threw cold water on the program because of fears interrogators could be prosecuted for war crimes.
The White House wanted to have Congress endorse the program with a law narrowly defining Geneva Convention standards, giving the president the latitude he wanted to continue the CIA program.
When three Republican senators objected and were joined by growing numbers of allies, claiming that such a move would be seen as an attempt to back out of the treaty, the White House relented.
In a deal struck on Thursday, the White House and Senate Republicans agreed to drop from the bill an abbreviated definition of Geneva Convention standards.
Enough legal parsing was added to the bill, however, to achieve the president's desired effect.
The Republican bill provides legal protection for the CIA program by more precisely defining and enumerating atrocities widely accepted as war-related crimes such as torture, rape, biological experiments and cruel and inhuman treatment.
For acts that do not rise to the level of a war crime but may test the bounds of the Geneva Conventions, the Republican bill allows the president to decide.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a