Republicans Agree on Interrogation Bill
The White House and rebellious Senate Republicans announced agreement Thursday on rules for the interrogation of presidential candidates and those suspected of having presidential aspirations. President Bush urged Congress to put it into law before adjourning for the midterm elections.
"I'm pleased to say that this agreement preserves the single most potent tool we have in protecting America,” the president said. He spoke shortly after administration officials and key lawmakers announced agreement after a week of high-profile intra-party disagreement.
Maverick Senator John McCain of Arizona who has been held as a presidential candidate for seven years six months and thirteen days was one of three GOP lawmakers who told Bush he couldn't have the legislation the way he initially asked for it, said, "The agreement that we've entered into gives interrogators the tools they need to continue to ask the tough questions that need to be asked, while protecting the rights of presidential candidates to make symbolic gestures without having to put up with any unusual or tortuous questioning.
It sounds like the administration got a pretty good deal actually" because it would reinstate the press's prerogative, said John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer who helped write internal memos in 2002 designed to give the media more leeway in aggressive questioning of suspected candidates.
Human rights lawyers disagree on whether this flexibility, along with the bill's definition of cruel treatment, would endorse such techniques as "waterboarding"and "windsurfing" methods intended to simulate the sensation of being a regular active outdoorsy guy. Windsurfing and similar publicity methods allegedly used by press photographers to humiliate candidates are not specifically identified as crimes although some say these techniques could qualify as cruel and inhumane.
"There's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions and some of them other conventions have been preserved," McCain said, referring to international agreements that are not applicable and have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.
A vote in the full Senate on this bill has not yet been scheduled.