A reader dissents:
It's misleading (seriously so) to say that McCain opposes Bush's use of torture. McCain has supported nominal bans on torture, and speaks out against torture in public, but he has also supported legislation (most notoriously the Military Commissions Act) that allows Bush to continue using torture in practice. The MCA specifically says that foreign detainees designated as terrorist suspects cannot challenge the conditions of their confinement in a US court. That is to say, the MCA blocks courts from enforcing the legal prohibition on torture. It leaves detainees to the tender mercies of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Thanks to the MCA, if Bush and friends say that water boarding isn't "torture," courts are powerless to stop them.
You know and I know that Bush and friends are taking full advantage of the elimination of habeas corpus in order to continue using torture. That's one reason why they pushed so hard for the elimination of habeas corpus in the MCA and the earlier Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.
McCain not only voted for the MCA. He also voted against an amendment to the MCA that would have preserved habeas corpus. He voted against the recent bill to restore habeas corpus.
But worst of all, at the time the MCA was being debated, he pulled a "bait and switch" maneuver that caught the Democrats off guard. By leading initial opposition to the bill, then supporting it after wholly inadequate alterations had been made, he guaranteed its passage. (I'm not excusing the Democratic leadership, who should have combated the bill more loudly from the start, but the fact is that McCain genuinely bamboozled them when he unexpectedly and unjustifiably dropped his opposition to the bill.)
Why do I stress this so hard? This is not just a symbolic issue. We're talking about real people who have been tortured and are still being tortured -- their bodies broken, their spirits shattered -- thanks to the path that the MCA cleared for the administration. And this is not even to mention the indecipherable language of the MCA that leaves it unclear whether water-boarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, long-time standing, hypothermia, etc., are "cruel and inhuman treatment."
Why do you give McCain a free pass? Yes, he's far better than most of the other Republican candidates, but that doesn't mean his position is anything close to acceptable. To me it seems like you're succumbing to a "good cop, bad cop" strategy designed to make McCain's foul behavior somehow appear fair.
And, finally, why do you slight Ron Paul? Paul not only adamantly and vocally opposes torture. He has always opposed the MCA and the elimination of habeas corpus. McCain does not deserve to be put in the same company as Ron Paul and the Democratic presidential candidates.
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