"A handful of principled Republican Senators have forced the White House to back down from the worst elements of its extreme proposal for new interrogation rules,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. . . .
And Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Senators Warner, McCain and Graham as “standing up to the administration” and producing a bill that, “while it has a number of problems, is a substantial improvement over the language proposed by the administration.”
We are now officially the country of torture. The image above of the hooded prisoner is the one that gets used the most not because it is iconic (although it is), but because the others are so horrific people instinctively turn away and don’t want to face the conversation any more. The fact that Levin and Reid would applaud this as "standing up to the administration" is absolutely appalling. Totally aside from the moral bankruptcy and the political naivite they showed in getting punk’d by GOP kabuki, it is anything but an efficacious November strategy. As Glenn Greenwald says:
The only real advantage Democrats have during this election season is that Congressional Republicans are perceived to be rubber-stamping loyalists to George Bush who fail to impose any limits or checks on his behavior. But Sen. Reid and Sen. Levin are here to tell us that this isn’t true, that Republican Senators are actually brave, principled and courageous and boldly stand up to the President in order to protect all of us not only from the Terrorists but also from the occasional excesses of the President.
I don’t know what happened to the country I grew up to believe in, but I don’t recognize it in this matter any more.
Neither, it appears, does Digby:
People and societies don’t just wake up one morning to find they no longer recognize themselves. It’s a process. And we are in the process in this country of "defining deviancy down" in ways I never thought possible. We are legitimizing torture and indefinite detention — saying that we will only do this to the people who really deserve it. One cannot help but wonder what "really deserves it" will mean in the years to come as we fight our endless war against terror.
But Reid and Levin aren’t the only ones who have dropped the ball here. As Froomkin says:
[A]s the White House gears up to use detainee policy as a political issue, it is incumbent on the press to remind the public that there are not only two choices: Doing it Bush’s way and letting terrorists go free. Even if the Democrats aren’t coherent about other alternatives, the press should be.
I’m hearing frustration from a lot of quarters that people feel this subject is not a "winner" for November and therefore should be abandoned. So I feel the need to ask the question — is this important to you? Is this something you feel like your leaders are morally obligated to take a stand on whether it’s a "winner" or not, and do you think that journalists (hint: Spotlight) should be pushing harder on? I honestly want to know.