Senate Republicans — led by Bill Frist and John Warner — are putting a package of antiwar legislation up for votes today that stops short of imposing a withdrawal schedule from Iraq, but will otherwise gladden the hearts of the Cindy Sheehans of the world.
The legislation scheduled for floor vote today imposes requirements on the administration to lay out its strategy to end the Iraq war, gives terrorist detainees the right to appeal military tribunal decisions to federal civilian courts and pressures the administration to impose the kind of “do this or else” requirements with the Iraqis that L. Paul Bremer brought into disrepute
The NYT report today shows how well the effort is orchestrated to dress this legislative cow pie up to look like a chocolate sundae.
“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 other appeals related to Iraq are nonbinding and express the position of the Senate.” And, of course, sitting atop the whipped cream is the McCain “anti-torture” amendment which is entirely binding and should be enough to draw a veto. Will it?
It should, but it probably won’t. The president has threatened to veto the McCain amendment (which, as I explained in a column last week, has nothing to do with torture and everything to do with confusing the law on detainee interrogation). But because the president hasn’t ever vetoed anything, no one takes him seriously on the McCain amendment.
The Senate continues to argue that the war is the war in Iraq, not the global war against the ideology of Islamic terrorism and all those who support it. They continue to do this because the White House doesn’t bother to dispute the point. If the president fails to veto this mess, he will set himself up for the same legislative mess Nixon faced in 1972: Congressional funding cutoffs, imbecilic deadlines, and the last helo out of Baghdad. And yes, it is that serious.