Thursday, September 14, 2006

Powell: World is beginning to doubt the moral basis

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined with Sen. John Warner, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham to challenge President George Bush’s Twilight Zone plans to deal out rough justice to the prisoners languishing at Gitmo, men supposedly captured from various theaters of the so-called War on Terror.

AP reports:

“‘I will resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity,’ Bush said at the White House.

“The president’s measure would go further than the Senate package in allowing classified evidence to be withheld from defendants in terror trials, using coerced testimony and protecting CIA and other U.S. interrogators against prosecution for using methods that may violate the Geneva Conventions.

“‘The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,’ Powell, a retired general who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his letter.

“Powell said Bush’s bill, by redefining the kind of treatment the Geneva Conventions allow, ‘would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.’”

“Firing back, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Powell was ‘confused’ about the White House plan. Later, Snow said he probably shouldn’t have used that word.”

This action is going to put pressure on Virginia’s Sen. George Allen, who is in a dogfight to keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. With Allen’s close association with the Bush administration’s goals -- Mr. 97 percent -- he will be expected to fall in line with Bush and split with his colleague, Virginia’s senior senator, John Warner.

Yet, this exposes Allen to more attacks from the camp of his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb. Given his military background, Webb is sure to agree with Warner’s senate committee, which is openly concerned with protecting Americans in the armed forces from being tortured if they are captured.

It appears to me Bush is holding a losing hand on this issue, as far as action in the Senate is concerned. He probably knows this but he still needs to take this stand publicly to rally his hardcore base for the fall elections. Sometimes, the demands of propaganda can be staggering.

Thus, candidate Allen is in a real bind. What to do? Which pose to strike?

The good thing about that predicament is at least Allen’s camp has finally got something to fret over that is more pressing than creating the next new apology for the Macaca Gaffe.

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