Bill Frist only hates filibusters some of the time.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist signaled yesterday that he and other White House allies will filibuster a bill dealing with the interrogation and prosecution of detainees if they cannot persuade a rival group of Republicans to rewrite key provisions opposed by President Bush.
Frist’s chief of staff, Eric M. Ueland, called the dissidents’ bill “dead.”[…] The sharp rhetoric of last week was replaced yesterday by softer language from both the Bush administration and the three Republican senators leading the opposition to its proposals: Warner, John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.).
But Frist struck a more jarring tone, telling reporters that the trio’s bill is unacceptable despite its majority support.[…] The disagreement centers on the Geneva Conventions, which say wartime detainees must be “treated humanely.” Bush backs language saying the United States complies so long as CIA interrogators abide by a 2005 law barring “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment of captives. Warner and his allies say they are concerned that Bush’s approach would invite nations to interpret the Geneva Conventions in lax ways that could lead to abusive treatment of captured U.S. troops.
The Warner contingent also opposes Bush’s bid to allow detainees to be convicted on secret evidence they are not allowed to see.
Observers have been biting nails for weeks over whether the McCain-Graham-Warner trio would knockle under to pressure and present some watered-down “compromise” that gives the president ninety-five percent of what he wants. Many observers have speculated that the entire kabuki exercise is designed to produce just that result. As Anonymous Liberal points out in the link this is still a bill written by very conservative Republicans. That the president cannot accept the bill’s meager intrusion on unitary executive rights does not by itself make the legislation good. Rather we should leave our code of conduct exactly where it has stood through the existential crises of the twentieth century, and anybody who has broken the law in mistreating detainees should be prepared to go to jail.
Needless to say the Democrats could not write a better result than the president’s legislation going nowhere and the half-awful “compromise” bill falling to a Republican filibuster threat. Given the state of our Republican leadership, nothing could serve America’s interests more than to put these bills off until the Democrats take one or both houses of Congress. Let Congressional hearings shine some light on the behavior of our government for the last six years and then make legislation based on informed understanding rather than our current state of half-light and demagoguery.