The New York Times is getting lazy, methinks. Today it squishes two stories into one and doesn't manage to ask the hard questions about either.
The first story is that Senate Republicans, under the erstwile leadership of Bill Frist and John Walter, have succeeded in stealing the Democrats plan for making the administration more accountable over how they are waging the war in Iraq and then managed to immasculate said plan. They dropped the requirement for benchmarks of success and moves toward establishing dates for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, leaving what is essentially a call for window-dressing reports every quarter (quarter!) "on subjects like progress in bringing in other countries to help stabilize Iraq." You just know those reports are going to end up reading like the unlamented "Good News From Iraq" roundups that rightwing bloggers used to slaver over every month.
Warner is quoted:
Mr. Warner said the underlying message was, "we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it." The senator, an influential party voice on military issues, said he did not interpret the wording of his plan as critical of the administration, describing it as a "forward-looking" approach.
And yet the NY Times didn't bother to ask Warner or anyone else why they aren't critical of the administration's ineptitude, why it should be the Iraqis who should get on with it when the coalition has singularly failed to rebuild their counry as promised, or even how they were going to prevent Rummie and Cheney using any old crap to fill out that quarterly report. Sad.
The second story is handled even worse, if that were possible. The article reports:
The Senate is also scheduled to vote Tuesday on a compromise, announced Monday night, that would allow terror detainees some access to federal courts. The Senate had voted last week to prohibit those being held from challenging their detentions in federal court, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is the author of the initial plan, said Monday that he had negotiated a compromise that would allow detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to challenge their designation as enemy combatants in federal courts and also allow automatic appeals of any convictions handed down by the military where detainees receive prison terms of 10 years or more or a death sentence.
Now here the obvious question is what happens if they never get convicted - that is, if they just detain the buggers and never put them to any kind of trial in the first place? If they've been ruled "enemy combatants" and had their appeal on that designation turned down then it looks like they can be held without trial forever. Not exactly the rule of law - "innocent until proven guilty" and all that - which is commonly understood by civilised nations.
However, the good news is that, according to the Washington Post:
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.
Oh that's good then. Maybe. But still no-one is asking McCain about his sudden friendship with the company that does the lion's share of private-contractor interrogations for the Pentagon.
And no, the WaPo doesn't ask the obvious question about duration of detainment without charge either. Double sad.