TPM Reader ZH on the torture bill compromise ...
This compromise basically returns us to the status quo as far as torture goes. We likely tortured captured spies throughout the cold war to extract information (or at least went beyond Common Artice 3 standards in any case) and probably did so in secret to try and prevent various ticking-time-bomb scenarios like those that have been described in gruesome detail by various pro-torture voices in the past weeks. Bush tried to take these actions out of the darker corners of the government and grant interrogators official cover for their actions. Beyond that, he coupled this with a law to rig courts where information gathered from torturing both the defendent and quasi-anonymous witnesses can be used to hang someone. That's one motive for legalizing torture. Another is that this president is, for one reason or another, more vulnerable than most to whistle-blowing despite his gather-the-wagons attitude. Lastly, there's the obvious tactic that including certain odious factors in the bill (specifics about no trial rights, torture, etc) will make it impossible for most Dems to vote for this wedge.
The compromise does little to help Dems on the last prong of Bush's strategy, but provides cover for the anti-torture GOP members by sending torture back to the shadows. Evidence obtained with torture probably won't be used in courts, and torture probably won't be made public again so long as the CIA does a better job than the military at keeping digital cameras out of its agents' hands. The compromise does to quite a bit in terms of saving our collective face and ensuring that the right to torture without penalty isn't enshrined in our laws, but anyone who actually opposes torture (as opposed to just opposing decriminalyzing it) should stand up, and probably should've asked a few more questions about our tactics several years ago before the first pictures came out as well.