The text(.pdf) is short, and disgustingly clear.
The relevant part is pretty much in one paragraph:
(3) INTERPRETATION BY THE PRESIDENT.—(A) As provided by the Constitution
and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the
meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards
and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave
breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
So there you have it. The president gets to decide what constitutes anything less than a grave breach, and lesser breaches are to be resolved by, "administrative regulations."
There is also this little gem:
CRUEL OR INHUMAN TREATMENT. —The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act intended to inflict severe or serious physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions), including serious physical abuse, upon another within his custody or control.
So who gets to define those "lawful sanctions, which allow for incidental pain and suffering?"
Looking at the first paragraph I quoted, it seems to be the president.
So what about those grave breaches (more commonly, in the this context, referred to as torture).
We've inserted language which means we interpret them anew.
“(D) the term ‘serious physical pain or suffering’ means bodily
injury that involves—
(1) a substantial risk of death;
(2) extreme physical pain;
(3) a burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature, not
to include cuts, abrasions, or bruises; or
(4) significant loss or impairment of the function of a
bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
“(E) the term ‘serious mental pain or suffering’ shall have the
same meaning as ‘severe mental pain or suffering’ as such term is defined
in 18 U.S.C. § 2340(2), except that the term ‘serious’ shall replace the
term ‘severe’ where it appears in such definition, and except that, as to
conduct occurring following the date of enactment of the Military
Commission Act of 2006, the term ‘serious and non-transitory mental
harm (which need not be prolonged)’ shall replace the term ‘prolonged
mental harm’ in such definition.”
Note the use of the phrase, "non-transitory", commit serious mental harm, which passes, and you aren't really torturing, so convincing someone they are about to die, inducing the fear of immediate death; that's kosher. Bring on the waterboards.
I'm glad, too, that we have such clear, and unambigous, terms as, "extreme pain," because that removes any doubt about what can be done.
What, one might wonder, are the clarifications, which "clarify" the vague terms of Art. 3 (the part which prohibits offenses to human dignity)?
(2) CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT DEFINED.—
The term ‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’ in this subsection shall
mean the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined
in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations
Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
I'm so glad that was made crystal clear.
Because those texts are so indefinite:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Yup, that's not subject to interpretation.
It's nice to know that this has been decided as binding
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Oh wait, they say this is, "a time of war" and that means the people we've been holding for almost five years can't be tried yet, because we can't spare the effort to have a trial. Then again we also hear that we can't afford to allow the accused to see the evidence and witnesses against them (it would, so we are told, "tip off the terrorists" to how we do things), so we'll just tell them how it went.
Seriously, that's the proposal I'm hearing. The White House has said it's, in principle, willing to compromise on that, by allowing military defense attorneys to be present at the testimony, and review the evidence. They won't be allowed to talk about it with the accused (nor, it seems, with civilian defense counsel, and the implication of the specification of military counsel implies that, even if they have clearance, it will stipulated the civilian attorneys have no need to know (after all at least one member of the defense team will get to see; and object, to the evidence/witness, and that's enough).
I'm sure that will make it all hunky-dory.
We are told we are "hated for our freedom," which is why people are "waging war on us."
We went war once before, with a list of grievances, among which were,
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
After that war we said, "Never again," and built the nation we have today.
But this administration is dismantling the protections we built against such abuses.
We've declared citizens to be outside the law (Padilla, Hamdan).
We've built extranational prisons, where we say the law does not run.
And now we say we need to be able to transport people to secret prisons, where we can torture them, and then try them in secret; before we give them whatever punishment those secret trials see fit.
John McCain can be proud of his part in making that possible, because it couldn't have happened without him.