ABOVE THE LAW. An informative but odd Washington Post editorial about detention policy notes all the ways the post-9-11 Bush administration has violated pre-9-11 rules against abusing prisoners, then notes all the ways the Bush administration has sought to evade post-Abu Ghraib efforts to get them to comply with the law, and then concludes with . . . suggestions for more stuff Congress might do. But Congress has already banned torture -- several times, depending on how you count.

The only way to get the administration to conform to the law would be to replace the personnel -- starting with the President -- with different people, people willing to obey the law. Alternatively, Congress could try and use the power of the purse to force the administration to start following the laws it's already passed. But simply trying to pass new laws won't change anything. Worse, it seems to involve implicitly conceding that it was somehow okay for the administration to have been breaking laws in the past. But torture, cruelty, inhumane treatment, etc. are all already illegal and have been for some time. There's no point in pretending this is some kind of legal dispute about which loopholes may or may not exist in the law. What we've got are two parallel moral disputes in which the people in the White House believe that torture is good policy and that lawbreaking is acceptable.

--Matthew Yglesias

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