Well, there is not much to say. Tristero over at Digby's Hullabaloo reminds us that the whole purpose of the bill was Kabuki theatre. The US Government is already doing everything we fear that it is. There were two purposes to the bill: one was to assert the theoretical right of Congress to regulate such activities by passing a law that legalizes the existing practices and, two, to lay a political trap for the DC Democrats by forcing them to vote against tactics the President says are necessary for the war on Terror.
Whatever small and vague limitations on executive power that certain Republican 'moderates' wanted to include in the bill were lost last week. Once it was clear that the bill would pass, the administration juiced up the bill with everything they would ever want.
The DC democrats did not rise to the bait offered. While opposing the bill, and reaching almost complete caucus unanimity on some amendments, it was clear that they did not plan a filibuster. Nothing would have pleased the Republicans more than a filibuster against the bill, allowing them to go to the electorate with the Democrats supposedly obstructing the war on terror on Capitol Hill. They have the votes of the Democrats against the bill to work with, but that was going to be true the minute the bills were introduced.
The GOP in DC is not unlike the Dems in DC. They forget that the winning and losing tactical battles around legislation in DC does translate to the rest of the country. The Republicans won this skirmish in Washington, but at what cost. They confirmed all across the country that the GOP stands for torture, indefinite detention and unchallenged executive power.
I believe that the hidden question moving this election is the question : is the modern Republican party seriously out of control and dangerously unchecked? Democrats have thought so for quite a while (since the impeachment of Clinton in fact), but now independents and moderates are just as concerned. And, if it is true, the traditional solution is well-known, and at hand: vote to divide government between the parties.
I think that the DC GOP outmaneuvered the DC Dems, but weakened themselves around the rest of the country. I think that when they run their inevitable ads that Senator X voted against the torture bill, it will not help them, because it confirms the worst suspicions about the GOP. They are losing the middle, and proving that they are more willing to torture people is not going to help them.