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Torture, By Any Other Name

And what precisely was Bush objecting to? A lot of it seems awfully petty.

Here's the text of the bill in question.

Says the signing statement: "To the extent that provisions of the Act, such as section 558, purport to direct or burden the conduct of negotiations by the executive branch with foreign governments or other entities abroad, the executive branch shall construe them as advisory. Such provisions, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, would impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, participate in international negotiations, and supervise the unitary executive branch."

All section 558 requires is that the administration designate three foreign seaports to pilot a scanning system for containerized cargo that includes nonintrusive imaging equipment and radiation detection equipment.

Says the signing statement: "The executive branch shall construe provisions of the Act relating to race, ethnicity, and gender, such as sections 623 and 697 of the Act, in a manner consistent with the requirement of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution to afford equal protection of the laws."

But all section 623 does is establish a graduate-level Homeland Security Education Program for senior government officials, and ask the administrator of the program to "take reasonable steps to ensure that the student body represents racial, gender, and ethnic diversity."

Similarly, all section 697 requires is that the government create a registry of businesses willing to perform disaster or emergency relief activities -- and that the registry note, among other things, whether the business is a small business owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, or service-disabled veterans.

Drowned Out

As I wrote yesterday , Bush is having a hard time competing for attention with the Congressional page-sex scandal revolving around former representative Mark Foley and rapidly enveloping the GOP House leadership.

Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times: "During his three-day campaign swing out West this week, Mr. Bush's carefully honed attacks on Democrats as soft on terrorism have been drowned out by the Foley case and its political repercussions.

"In interviews this week, White House officials expressed a sense of resignation, saying they were left with few options to help their party emerge intact from a scandal that appears to further threaten the Republicans' hold on Congress.

"For now, they said, they have little choice but to sit on the sidelines, watch it play out and hope that the House Republican leadership, starting with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, finds an adroit way to extricate itself from the matter."

Kenneth R. Bazinet writes in the New York Daily News: "Faced with an ugly GOP sex scandal in Congress and signs his own political comeback is on the skids, Bush used some of his most strident language yet while campaigning for Republican candidates in next month's election. . . .

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