Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibuster-Proof Margin

The coalition of Democratic Senators and a handful of Republicans -- most notably John Warner, Lindsey Graham and John McCain -- opposed to President Bush's reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention's requirement for fair trials and prohibition against torture is nearing a filibuster-proof margin, according to reporting today by Carl Hulse, Kate Zernike and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times.

Mr. Bush seems equally determined to win provisions he says are needed to interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects. He and his allies are ratcheting up pressure on Senate Republicans who support alternate rules adopted this week by the Armed Services Committee. Mr. Warner, like his two colleagues, has a network of high-ranking current and retired military officers who provide regular guidance and support. While he has been consulting them privately, some are expected to weigh in publicly in the days ahead. One aide said on Saturday that the number of Senate Republicans behind the three senators was widening beyond the 8 or 10 they had anticipated, with lawmakers -- heavily influenced by Mr. Powell's stance -- preparing to soon go public with their views.

In interviews, two senior Bush administration officials acknowledged that the White House had underestimated the depth of opposition Mr. Bush's proposal would provoke. They also said they had focused mostly on gaining Mr. Graham's support and mistakenly believed they had it, based on statements he made about the Geneva Conventions in Senate hearings. A Republican senator separately described the clash between the White House and Mr. Warner's group as "a train wreck." [emphasis added]

The debate over the Geneva Convention -- specifically their protections for those captured during war -- is not over. During the next two months, Republican opposition to President Bush's creative reading of the Convention could wane as a "compromise" is achieved. In this case, we could see a replay of the debate over the creation of the Homeland Security Department during the lead up to the 2002 midterm elections as Republicans eventually settled on language so unpalatable to many Democrats that it split the opposition.

That said, it is the Republicans who are terribly fractured at this point, as evidenced by this headline from The Times yesterday. And if this dynamic of division within Congressional Republicans continues through election day, as it has for almost the entire duration of the current Congress (Republicans couldn't come together on immigration, on tax reform, on Social Security privatization, etc.), it will be they, not the Democrats, who will have difficulty convincing voters that they are in agreement on the most vital issues and thus able to govern effectively.

Tags: geneva convention, George W. Bush, Guanatnamo, HR 6054, Iraq, John Warner, Military Commissions Act, S 3901, Senate 2006, Unlawful Combatants (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Interesting

So who are these 8-10 plus?  I assume at least four of the five Northeastern Republicans, but who else?

by jhupp 2006-09-17 11:52AM | 0 recs
Senator Specter is one more

So who are these 8-10 plus?


Senator Specter said on Face the Nation that he stood with McCain and Warner on this, and he also said that there were some provisions in their bill that he did not agree with because of due process concerns that have not gotten much attention.

by Fred in Vermont 2006-09-17 02:44PM | 0 recs
Who are the 8 or 10 they anticipated?

I'd guess Hagel, Snowe, Collins, Chafee, Specter, DeWine, ... god, the R caucus gets scary pretty quickly... Sununu, Murkowski, Gorton, and Voinovich.  That's ten.  After that, if you're winning more votes they're coming from Hutchison, Alexander, Craig, and maybe even mainline committee chairs like Lugar, Gregg, and Domenici.  Martinez and Coleman are creations of Rove; I assume neither is willing to cross the President on a subject that's really important to him that he hasn't already lost on.

by texas dem 2006-09-18 03:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

Doesn't this "Republican Revolt" seem suspiciously close to election day?  

Graham and McCain, goofy as they are, are at least consistent on this issue.  But the movement, such as it is, seems staged.

by hoose 2006-09-17 01:20PM | 0 recs
Filibuster-Proof Margin

In the end, the GOP Senators will fold and agree to some half-ass compromise that gives the administration essentially what it wanted.

IMHO this issue is mostly about Bush and Cheney and Gonzales and Yoo and Rumsfeld hoping to insulate themselves from human rights charges.  They are trying to make sure that they don't end up in orange jump suits in front of a tribunal at The Hague.

by global yokel 2006-09-17 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Ex Post Facto - Jump Suits

Last I knew the U.S. is still a party to the Geneva Convention. No doubt the members of the administration want to avoid responsibility for the torture they have illegally authorized but it's not  something they can backdate.  Clearly they believe that they are above the law, but that won't impress  a tribunal at the Hague. Signing statements and other massive legal turbation won't protect them because Republicans don't control the Hague.  Only right-wing politicians and a U.S. Supreme Court packed with far-right authoritarians will protect them from being sent to the Hague.

I think you're right about the 1/2 ass compromise.

by FishOutofWater 2006-09-17 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Filibuster-Proof Margin

yeah, i think you guys are absolutely right on the compromise. Bush will cave in because he has to, but Repubs will try to sell it as a victory, along the lines of "see, we're getting things done here."

i think Kerry hit the right note in his speech last weekend. this will essentially be a major flip-flop on torture and the Geneva conventions. the only reason why the rest of the Repub Party will fall into line on any compromise is because its elections. first they were for torture, now they're against it. what's gonna happen if GOP retains control and this issue loses visibility? for all we know, they'll go right back to the way things were on Geneva and there'll be creative Bush interpretations of the new law that Congress, again, does not keep in check.

by Chris G 2006-09-17 06:44PM | 0 recs
It's worse than you think

One of my colleagues has been in touch with a law firm which apprised him of similar clauses in two competing drafts of this military commission legislation. My colleague contacted me because he wanted to know if I had any way of getting in direct contact with our Congressman on this isssue. He sent me the .pdf files of the draft bills which the law firm forwarded to him (unfortunately, the security on the files won't allow me to cut and paste, I have to type directly to this post - any typos or transcription errors are mine).

Both drafts (which is which?) retroactively abolish habeas corpus when it comes to detainees. The clauses are buried late in the documents.

The first documnent, titled "MilCommAct2006Draft.pdf" states on page 77, line 17:

...(c) Except as provided for in this subsection, and notwithstanding any other law, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action, including an application for a writ of habeas corpus, pending on or filed after the date of enactment of this Act, against the United States or its agents, brought on behalf of any alien detained by the United States as an unlawful enemy combatant, relating to any aspect of the alien's detention, transfer, treatment, or condition of confinement...

The second document, titled "Mil Comm ARS 9-12-06.pdf" states on page 74, line 19:

...(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained outside of the United States who - (A) is currently in United States custody; or (B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant (2)Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (18 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, treatment, or trial of analien detained outside of the United States who - (A) is currently in United States custody; or (B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant...

The law firm wrote a letter to a United States Senator which states:

....The Writ of Habeas Corpus is provided for in the Constitution (Article I, Section 9, clause 2) and by statute (28 U.S.C. [section] 2241). In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal District Court in washington, D.C. has jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Rasul v. Bush, 124 S. Ct. 2686,2698 (U.S. 2004). Since 2004, the administration has fought unsuccessfully - both in Congress and in the courts - to reverese the Sup[reme Court's decision in Rasul. Now the White House proposes legislation that would reverse both Rasul and the recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld....

Constitution? We ain't got no Constitution. We don't need no Constitution. I don't have to show you any stinking Constitution.

by Michael Bersin 2006-09-17 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: It's worse than you think

It's worse than you think


No wonder Specter has problems with it.  What do you bet that he says that such changes in the law should have also gone through the Judiciary Committee, not just Armed Services.

by Fred in Vermont 2006-09-17 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: It's worse than you think

That is bad.  The administration thinks that the Constitution can be legislated away or simply ignored. Does that make them traitors?

by FishOutofWater 2006-09-17 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

I don't remember seeing Bush bully his own party more than in the last news conference. It was a classic "It's my football and I'll make the rules." performance. He acted like a spoiled brat who wasn't getting his way, throwing a temper tantrum on national TV. He was angry with the press and his own party for not giving him what he wanted. What a whiner.

I think this latest performance backfired.  The Republicans are thoroughly divided on the interrogation issue.  Repubs with military experience are solidly against Bush while the chickenhawks are solidly behind him. The whole strong on terrorism act is imploding. The terrorists have beaten back the Pakistani army and Osama is firmly in control in a country that is supposedly a key ally in the so called "War on Terror".  If our strongest friends in the region can cut a deal with Osama, the whole "War on Terror" is nothing but a sham. That is obvious to anyone with military experience.

Republicans are running from Bush like rats from a sinking ship.

by FishOutofWater 2006-09-17 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

Could not agree more; Bush is really messing this up. This "be afraid" bullshit is not going to scare people into following him anymore:even the members of his own party. If we assume that Dubba is the head honcho of the Rethugs then this could truly spell disaster. For months they have not been able to get shit done and this is just another example of how messed up their party is. Let's hope failures like this will keep Rethugs at home on Nov. 7.

by Forward with Feingold 2006-09-17 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

I agree with the yokel above.

I see from some of the internet news sources that there is talk of a compromise now between the big 3 and the President.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/washin gton/17cnd-detain.html?hp&ex=1158552 000&en=393e8f644b2c5234&ei=5094& amp;partner=homepage

Posted by the Lemming Herder from Don't Be A Lemming!

by Lemming Herder 2006-09-17 01:43PM | 0 recs
Durable link, bill numbers, etc

[This was a diary (now deleted), before I noticed Jonathan's piece.]

The piece in the Times today [durable link] a fine example of the maverick GOP MC genre of article, I thought.

But - as per usual - the fucking article never mentions the bill number, damn the journos' eyes!

Moreover, it was one of those bills that were not introduced on the Senate floor: it's what they call an original bill, ie, one cooked up in committee and then reported out.

(How did I find it? One of the news pieces said it had been reported on Thursday. I go to the Congressional Record page in THOMAS and picked the Daily Digest for that date.

The good old DD does what the title suggests, including listing bills reported on the day in question.)

So - the House bill is HR 6054, the Senate bill is S 3901, both texts now on THOMAS.

(There is a report on the House bill from HASC; no report on the Senate bill.)

by skeptic06 2006-09-17 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

If I understand this post correctly, the title should really be "cloture proof margin".  It's very  confusing as it stands now.

by Sean Robertson 2006-09-17 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Pro-Geneva Convention Coalition Nears Filibust

~45 Democrats plus more than 10 Republicans is nearing a filibuster-proof margin of 60 votes.

by Jonathan Singer 2006-09-17 05:06PM | 0 recs
"The Times"

The NYT should always be called The NYT or new yourk times.  There is a paper in the UK called "The Times" I think.

by delmoi 2006-09-17 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: "The Times"

I work it out thusly:

In the UK, 'the Times' is the London Times. In the US, it's the New York Times.

Just like - in the UK, 'hockey' means what Americans call field hockey while in the US it means what Brits call ice hockey.

So - when in Rome...

by skeptic06 2006-09-17 05:49PM | 0 recs
I'm now confused

Jonathan talks about a filibuster-proof margin.

Which implies that our side is looking to pass a bill, rather than stop it.

Which bill? Presumably, the Warner bill S 6501, which is cracked up to be so radically different from the Bush bill that the HASC reported out.

Well, I've been comparing them - the version in the HASC report and the Warner bill, and I'm struggling with the spot the difference game.

Both in the text which excludes appeals and habeas corpus challenges from those subjected to the proposed commission, and in text which replaces the existing text governing the domestic crime of breaching the Geneva Convention (18 USC 2441(c)(3)), the bills look identical to me.

What exactly is the difference that Warner's boasting about with his bill? Is it really enough that the Dems should be supporting his bill?

Presumably, ultimately there will either be agreement on the bill text with the White House or, if a bill is passed, Bush will veto it.

Where would that leave the Dems if they've supported the Warner bill?

The whole thing is so screwy that I'm sure I've got hold of the wrong end of several sticks here.

No entiendo

by skeptic06 2006-09-17 06:38PM | 0 recs

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