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September 24, 2006


Note -- I think Katherine deserves credit for this post ;)

fixed it, sorry.

First, there's a http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=2416>hearing.

but there's no need to wait until after the hearing for calls, right?

Do you have a sense of who the swing votes are?

No need to wait. Everyone should call their folks on the committee. And call their folks not on the committee.

I don't know whether C-Span is going to pick it up. They'll definitely carry Dorgan's show on the Iraq report cited in the previous thread. From their website, I see that Specter has a 12:30 http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/09/25/midday2/>speech at the Press Club.

I am so tempted to go, since tomorrow is a relatively free day..

Oh, this is reassuring:

The White House had preferred to bar questioning that caused "severe" and "prolonged" harm, while McCain and his allies sought to obstruct interrogations that caused "almost instantaneous" mental harm. "If the detainee faints, that is not what we were trying to capture," said one of the congressional negotiators, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. "But we wanted to prohibit anything that would cause a lasting effect, or anything that would go up to that line."

"But we wanted to prohibit anything that would cause a lasting effect, or anything that would go up to that line"


I find it difficult to avoid imagining an appropriate afterlife for these people.

(This started to be a "Thanks, Katherine," comment, but I kept reading. In spite of which: Thanks, Katherine.)

Thanks, Katherine. Posted about this last week, will update.

I called my senator on Friday asking him to filibuster the bill -- if I call today asking him to support this amendment will that be treated as a retraction of my previous request?

Specter's hearing on habeas corpus should have been going for an hour at this point. No sign of it on C-Span. Anyone heard anything at all?

I just spoke to Cantwell's office. I said it's getting hard to keep track of the latest Really Bad Bill to be offered, and that I wished the whole idea would be voted down, but if it's a choice between lesser evils, would the Senator please support (and I used Katherine's exact words) "Specter-Levin amendment restoring habeas corpus."

The person I spoke to sounded understanding and sympathetic. I don't know if that means anything, and I forget to ask Cantwell's position. But I think she's one of the good guys on this issue.

Of my Senators, Isaakson's staff didn't appear to know about the amendment, and Chambliss' said he hasn't made up his mind about it yet. Probably wasting my time, but, oh well.

Make that "Isakson". I always do that.

Um...this post links to itself. If you intended it to link elsewhere, Katherine, you might want to fix it. The self-linking occurs under "Here's one."

Oh, scratch that last. I didn't realize there was scrolling to do.

Yes, the link is to the "Law" category, in which this post is currently the most recent. But since it says "one", Katherine might have intended to link to the post that was first there when she was writing (and is second now), "A World Beyond the Law".

So am I off the hook as I live in D.C.? Or does my close proximity require me to take, um, more "physical" action?

Oh, this is reassuring:

No no no. You see, we have to get down to the parsing. Can we make a detainee piss and sh!t himself, or is it piss only? Which parts of the body can we subject to electric shock? And how many amps/volts can we use? Does the first vary inversely with the second? Can we waterboard once or twice a day? Etc. etc. etc. It all must be memorialized and neatly spelled out in the United States Code.

Of course, they won't spell it out, they'll just use "code" language, kind of like how the Constitution contains no reference to slavery prior to the 13th Amendment.

Man I feel like singing me some Lee Greenwood.

Ugh, I had no idea you were in DC. Drop me a line, if you can do so without revealing your secret identity.

You're not off the hook. You must know people who live in other states. Get them to call.

Yes, Ugh, you should stop by DCDL (see my URL) if you're ever free on a Thursday night. Then again, maybe you already do.

I'm trying to put together a very short statement to give my Virginia friends and relatives to communicate to Warner, thanking him for standing up for American values (despite the fact that he ended up following McCain in caving) but pointing out that any guarantees about treatment he's gotten through the legislative changes are meaningless without habeas corpus, so he needs to support the Specter-Levin amendment. Not sure what more I can really ask of him.

I guess I should have them contact Allen too, but it may not be worth the effort since it would require putting together a different statement, and he's a hopeless case anyway.

And then I need something for my Maryland friends and anyone else with a Democratic senator in general. It is awkward to be asking for them to support an amendment but oppose the whole bill.

Here's NYTimes coverage of the hearing.

A Yahoo News search on 'Senate Judiciary Committee' turned up some other coverage, as well:

AP: pre-hearing Specter opposition

UPI analysis: Habeas May Stymie Torture Deal

There are also great pictures of silent demonstrators at the hearing (orange t-shirts spelling out NO TORTURE).

Thanks, Nell.

Argh! From the NY Times article: "Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who was the only other member of the committee present for the unusual Monday morning hearing, ..."

So Specter, Leahy, and Cornyn were the only ones there? What were Kennedy, Feingold, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Schumer, and Durbin busy with that was more important? Couldn't they have gone and gotten off some quotable lines?

There's no mention of a vote in the committee.

The NYTimes article linked in my comment above also produces far better "optics" for the anti-torture side and, through Leahy, for Dems.

Frist is determined to have a floor vote on the bill by Friday (recess).

It sounds as if the Judiciary Committee is going to try either to bottle it up to prevent (but Frist may not recognize jursidiction; Can a Majority Leader just ignore a committee in this way?), or pass out with the Specter-Levin habeas-preserving amendment attached.

I hope for some lobbying guidance from Center for Constitutional Rights and/or Human Rights First.

Meanwhile, I think the message is: oppose any early vote on the bill, support the Specter-Levin amendment if bill comes to floor, and (worst case) filibuster if amendment fails.

I really don't like the idea of a bill that retroactively immunizes Bush and his advisers against war crimes, but that part is conceivably reversible.

Politically, failure to filibuster or solidly oppose means Dems are complicit in immunizing Bush and caving along with McCain-Warner on legalizing torture, no matter how much they promise us to do someting to reverse this in the future.

I believe minority Rs in a 110th Congress would not hesitate to filibuster to protect Bush's immunity. If this bill passes, I hope I'm wrong about that.

KCinDC: What were Kennedy, Feingold, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Schumer, and Durbin busy with that was more important?

The answer to that may be: planning how to block a little batch of horrible judicial nominations that the administration wants to jam through this week. Feinstein has publicly vowed to filibuster one for the 9th circuit (saw that in the Yahoo search results).

CharleyC - I may do that, though seeing as how I can't seem to find time to call the best man in my wedding these days it may be awhile (somehow I find time to comment here though). BTW, did you end up having dim-sum with Kleiman a couple weeks back? My wife knows him and we may head over one Sunday (or more likely grab dinner with him some other time).

KCinDC - I may do that too, with the same caveat as above.

I hope you're right, Nell, and perhaps they're also planning how to block other last-minute outrages (including the detainee bill). I do recognize that the most visible actions aren't always the most effective, but I'm eager to see more Democrats saying things on this topic to remedy some of the disgust and despair that's settled on the liberals online in the past few days.

KC in DC: I'm eager to see more Democrats saying things on this topic to remedy some of the disgust and despair that's settled on the liberals online in the past few days.

With you there. If I were the senior minority staff of the Judiciary Committee, I'd have set up some blogger conference calls for Sunday (when enough time should have passed since the McCain "compromise" to plot next steps). But I'm not, and all I know about him is his name.

The inside/outside tension that fueled much of the comments in the 'world beyond the law' thread is a built-in tension in legislative work. I've had a view from both sides over the years, and have seen it work to good effect when there are people whose job it is to translate the thinking from each side of the divide to the other.

I think it's fair to say that in the current situation, in which the Bush administration pushes to legalize lawlessness, the insiders need some help reaching out to the outsiders. Particularly since the outsiders now have considerably louder platforms from which to articulate their point of view...

From the hearing:

Senator Cornyn, I'd like to address a few remarks you made.
You said these are enemies of the United States captured on the battlefield. None of the 10 we represent were captured on the battlefield or are enemies of the United States.

You said no one suggested that the enemy combatants were entitled to the habeas corpus. The Supreme Court of the United States in the Rasul case two years ago held specifically that they were entitled to habeas corpus, to challenge the reason for their detention.

You said they have an administrative review following a trial on the merits. None of them got a trial on the merits. . . .

Let me repeat the question I asked earlier: is there any benefit writing to/calling people other than our direct representatives? Would it help if I were to call Schumer('s office), f'rex?

I called my Senators, for the first time in years, but since I live in Virginia, and one of my Senators is John Warner the "rebel" who already caved to Bush, and the other is George Allen who's basically a not very nice human being, I'm not expecting much. The aides I talked to said they'd pass it on, Allen's said the Senator hadn't made up his mind yet, Warner's didn't really give me an answer.

I bet all I'll get out of this is two more form letters, to go with the stack I already have.

This is very important but is a bill that has it satisfactory esp. given the limbo many with habeas have and will continue to have?

Not in my book.

Anarch, they don't like to hear from people not their own constituents, unless one has some other standing. (They'll always hear from Angelina Jolie. Or Admiral Hutson, to pick two).

Ugh, what, you don't eat lunch?

No, I haven't made one of Kleiman's deals. Maybe later. You could have had a two-fer, KC and I, had you come to DL last Thursday. (More than a two-fer -- there's a bunch of good folks doing the DL thing).

CC -- that's what I thought, which is why I forebore. Dangit, that's frustrating.

I've been meaning to go to Kleiman's dim sum thing too (and try to recruit him to talk at DL before he leaves DC).

my Senators, Dole and Burr, aren't likely to do anything but laugh at me, if i call them and urge them to stand up to Bush.

I posted this comment earlier but it seems to have been eaten:

The same crew are trying to strip U.S. citizens of habeas rights, as well:

(9/25): As Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) holds a hearing today to examine proposals to limit Guantanamo detainees' access to habeas corpus review, other members of the Republican leadership are trying to strip away this right for U.S. citizens convicted of crimes. With only days left before Congress adjourns for mid-term elections, some members of Congress continue to skirt regular order in an attempt to attach widely-criticized habeas repeal measures to unrelated legislation. ... House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is now insisting that a controversial "judiciary package" of crime legislation, which includes habeas-stripping measures, be attached to the DOD bill.

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