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Generalissimo George



We were heartened briefly last week when a handful of Republican senators appeared to stand up to the Bushwhacker in Chief and said his proposed legislation to "clarify" the Geneva Conventions anti-torture provisions was unacceptable. But by week's end, the senators had caved.

But don't take our word for it. As president of the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner knows what he's talking about when it comes to this issue. He describes the so-called compromise "nearly complete capitulation ... to political pressure from Karl Rove and the White House."

"If this bill passes," contends Ratner, "the president's mere labeling of someone as an 'enemy combatant' would permit the president to lock him up. His innocence would be irrelevant. We now know all too well the dangers of this kind of unchecked executive power. Last week, the Canadian government completely exonerated Maher Arar. Mr. Arar was sent by the U.S. government to be tortured in Syria. He was detained there for a year based on a mere executive assertion. And we know that the overwhelming majority of men currently detained in Guantánamo are men who were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

We could go on, but better judgment dictates that we not make too big an issue of this. After all, if anyone in the White House finds out we're providing a megaphone to critics of the administration, we might just find out firsthand exactly what that waterboarding thing is all about.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or

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