I'll be writing more about the horrible "compromise" on torture later. (Good posts at Balikization and Legal Fiction.) I don't really have time to post now; but I did want to draw attention to the following debate, by our representatives, in the House Judiciary Committee:
"But the talk of sleep deprivation caused Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) to stir. "Detainees are entitled to a full eight hours of sleep and cannot be awakened for interrogation," he said. "The average inmate gained about 15 pounds, was receiving better medical care by far, dental care, you name it: being given a Koran, they pray five times a day, there's an arrow on the floor in each of the rooms . . . so they know which way Mecca is so they can pray accordingly."
Sensenbrenner responded with a deep cough. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) set about building a straw man. "We just heard that not guaranteeing eight hours of sleep in Guantanamo has been interpreted by some as inhumane," he said.
"Who?" demanded Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), for nobody had said such a thing.
But Feeney was just warming up. "There is not an American mom that is guaranteed eight hours of sleep every night. There are very few people in the business world . . . who are guaranteed eight hours of sleep." Further, he added: "There are suggestions that playing loud music is inhumane treatment. . . . The bottom line is, that means virtually every teenager I know is torturing mom and dad."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appealed for reason: "Although I'm sure parents do feel tortured by their teenagers, I don't think that's in the Constitution."
Nadler raised the ante. "Sleep deprivation [for] eight hours? How about 40 hours?" he asked. "How about waterboarding? How about holding people and subjecting them to hypothermia?"
"Absurd! Absurd!" heckled Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who accused the Democrats of "hyperbole."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) seconded the "absurd" accusation. "We are facing sleep deprivation here in this Congress at the shutdown of every single session," he cracked."
I saw the debate yesterday; all this got started when someone described treatment at Guantanamo, and then for some unfathomable reason proceeded on the assumption that this bill only allows what already happens at Guantanamo, which is wrong. That's where the 'eight hours of sleep' comes from: supposedly, detainees at Guantanamo get eight hours of sleep, and so, despite the fact that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the bill under discussion, the Republicans decided to argue as though anyone who objects to the President's bill must think that not getting eight hours of sleep is torture.
There are, basically, two interpretations of this. Either these Republican representatives have neither read the bill nor familiarized themselves with its contents and with current practices by the US government, including the practices that made them shout 'absurd!'. In this case they are flatly failing to do their job, which might be OK if they were considering some trivial bill that established National Dandelion Week, but would be inexcusable in this case. Or else they are liars and moral bankrupts: liars for pretending that the claim that we subject detainees to hypothermia and other genuine tortures is absurd; moral bankrupts for equating what we are doing to detainees to what they do to themselves at the end of every session.
In either case, they are unworthy of anyone's support. The people cited in this article as having made these ridiculous arguments are: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.). If anyone can find a transcript of the hearing, I'll go through it later today, see who needs to be added to this list, and update accordingly. The full list of members of the House Judiciary Committee is here; all the Republicans but Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Inglis (S.C.) voted for the administration bill.