Today’s War News

TODAY’S WAR NEWS….Hmmm. Very interesting news on the war front tonight. First, we’ve apparently reached a compromise on Lindsey Graham’s legislation that would eliminate the right of habeas corpus to military detainees:

The compromise links legislation written by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), which would deny detainees broad access to federal courts, with a new measure authored by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) that would grant detainees the right to appeal the verdict of a military tribunal to a federal appeals court. The deal will come to a vote today, and the authors say they are confident it will pass.

Graham and Levin indicated they would then demand that House and Senate negotiators link their measure with the effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to clearly ban torture and abuse of terrorism suspects being held in U.S. facilities.

“McCain’s amendment needs to be part of the overall package, because it deals with standardizing interrogation techniques and will reestablish moral high ground for the United States,” Graham said.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this. The details of this “right to appeal” are important, but it sounds like it might be a reasonable compromise. And if it’s linked to McCain’s anti-torture amendment, all the better.

On another front, it looks like Democratic pressure to figure out an eventual withdrawal plan from Iraq has actually had an effect:

In a sign of increasing unease among Congressional Republicans over the war in Iraq, the Senate is to consider on Tuesday a Republican proposal that calls for Iraqi forces to take the lead next year in securing the nation and for the Bush administration to lay out its strategy for ending the war.

….The proposal on the Iraq war, from Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, and Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would require the administration to provide extensive new quarterly reports to Congress on subjects like progress in bringing in other countries to help stabilize Iraq.

….The plan…is built upon the Democratic approach and makes it clear that senators of both parties are increasingly eager for Iraqis to take control of their country in coming months and open the door to removing American troops.

In fact, it appears to be nearly identical to the Democratic approach. Kudos to Harry Reid & Co. for producing a positive plan for Iraq that’s forced a Republican response.

But will it work? Again, the devil is in the details, namely just how detailed these “extensive new quarterly reports” will be. They could turn out to be window dressing that’s easily fobbed off by Donald Rumsfeld, or they could be serious instruments that force the administration to set meaningful benchmarks and report on them. With midterm elections coming up, my guess is that they’ll be at least moderately serious. We’ll see.

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