The Washington Post's Dana Milbank eviscerates a House committee for its absurd debate on the definition of torture:
Confronted with one of the weightiest issues of the times -- whether to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions' torture prohibitions -- the committee members quickly retreated to the familiar terrain of extraneous and off-point arguments.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), leading the debate for the Democrats, asked to put into the record an article written by a former prisoner of the KGB about techniques such as sleep deprivation that the Bush plan could allow.
"Objection," the chairman growled, without explaining himself or looking up from his newspaper.
But the talk of sleep deprivation caused Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) to stir. "Detainees are entitled to a full eight hours of sleep and cannot be awakened for interrogation," he said. "The average inmate gained about 15 pounds, was receiving better medical care by far, dental care, you name it: being given a Koran, they pray five times a day, there's an arrow on the floor in each of the rooms . . . so they know which way Mecca is so they can pray accordingly."
Sensenbrenner responded with a deep cough. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) set about building a straw man. "We just heard that not guaranteeing eight hours of sleep in Guantanamo has been interpreted by some as inhumane," he said.
"Who?" demanded Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), for nobody had said such a thing.
But Feeney was just warming up. "There is not an American mom that is guaranteed eight hours of sleep every night. There are very few people in the business world . . . who are guaranteed eight hours of sleep." Further, he added: "There are suggestions that playing loud music is inhumane treatment. . . . The bottom line is, that means virtually every teenager I know is torturing mom and dad."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appealed for reason: "Although I'm sure parents do feel tortured by their teenagers, I don't think that's in the Constitution."
Nadler raised the ante. "Sleep deprivation [for] eight hours? How about 40 hours?" he asked. "How about waterboarding? How about holding people and subjecting them to hypothermia?"
"Absurd! Absurd!" heckled Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who accused the Democrats of "hyperbole."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) seconded the "absurd" accusation. "We are facing sleep deprivation here in this Congress at the shutdown of every single session," he cracked.
And to think they call the Senate the world's greatest deliberative body...