Olbermann: Bush's 'rush' to redefine Geneva Conventions may be mostly about 'covering his own backside'

David Edwards
Published: Saturday September 16, 2006

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Keith Olbermann's Friday broadcast on MSNBC featured a long look at the President's contentious Rose Garden press conference on Friday, dubbing it the "Roast Garden," and then pondered whether Bush's urgency to redefine the Geneva Convention had more to do with "covering his own backside" than anything else.

At a Friday press conference, an animated President Bush tells reporters that the U.S. program to interrogate terrorist suspects will not continue unless Congress creates new legal definitions for Common Article 3 or the Geneva Conventions -- a move that has alarmed some GOP senators and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Bush also devoted his Saturday radio address to the issue.

In video of the Friday presser, a visibly angry President raises his voice as responds to reporters' questions.

NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory asks the President how he would react if American officers were interrogated based on another country's own re-interpreted version of the Geneva Conventions. Without answering the question, Bush says, "We can debate this issue all we want but the practical matter is if our professionals do not have clear standards in the law, the program will not go forward."

Further pressed by Gregory for an answer, Bush raises his voice and says, "You can ask this question all you want but the bottom line is -- and the American people have got to understand this -- that this program won't go forward... if there are vague standards applied like those in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It's just not going to go forward. Now, perhaps some in Congress don't think the program is important. That's fine."

Afterward, Georgetown University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley joined Keith Olbermann for a discussion on why the president was in such a hurry to get the legislation passed "his way."

Turley agreed with Olbermann that Bush's primary motive might be in "covering his own backside."

Turley noted that the 14 high level detainees recently transferred to Guantanamo Bay are due to be interviewed by the Red Cross, and that "most people believe that they will reveal that they were subject to water boarding - held under water until you think that you are going to drown - that is undeniably torture under the international standard."

"I think that the Administration senses that there is a lot of trouble coming down the mountain," said Turley.

See the video from Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show on MSNBC: