Republicans Divided, Democrats Fail to Unite
You pretty much know you’re in trouble when key players on your team are publicly questioning your game plan.
Three of the most influential Republicans in the country (Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Secretary of State Colin Powell) are currently challenging President George W. Bush on his call for Congress to allow for military tribunals in the case of terror suspects. This call was made after the Supreme Court already struck down the Bush administration’s military tribunals as unconstitutional.
The most influential challenge is that made by Colin Powell, one of the most respected figures in American politics today.
His much-quoted letter written to McCain reads, ‘The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts.’
The president hopes that Congress can ‘reinterpret’ Article 3 of the Geneva Convention to allow for weaker regulation of interrogations. More specifically, the administration wants the current Guantanamo tribunals to be able to use evidence acquired by coercion. Also, Bush wants to be able to keep parts of the prosecution cases secret from the accused.
After trying to quietly pressure these vital players, no agreement was reached. These Republicans, as well as other members of Congress, argue that the reinterpretation of the protections that the Geneva Convention offers would be detrimental to the United States’ already-damaged reputation in many foreign countries.
Moreover, what’s to stop other countries from reinterpreting these vital human rights laws to their own ends? Bush’s eagerness to try these prisoners is not worth the risk of harm that may come to American troops and prisoners of war.
Powell, McCain and Graham should be commended for taking a risk and stand up for what they seem to feel is right. However, this type of challenge to the administration’s policies should be seen in the greater context of the upcoming elections.
Many Republicans are attempting to distance themselves from Bush, but only after supporting him through many of the decisions that made him unpopular.
Republicans are even more worried that this public challenge to the president’s policies will divide voters and ultimately cause the GOP to lose valuable seats.
Democrats, on the other hand, have yet to unite to pressure the administration and the Republicans in an effective way.
In order for Democrats to gain a majority in either or both houses of Congress