I've noted the bizarre locution Bush used last night to describe the torture endured by John McCain. I hope the press corps will follow up. But one piece of evidence that the omission of the t-word by Bush was deliberate comes in Fred Thompson's speech as well. He went on at length about the hideous treatment handed down to John McCain in Vietnam. It was the longest section of the speech. Wanna guess if the word "torture" came up at all? Here's the whole thing:
On October 26, 1967, on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, a surface-to-air missile slammed into John's A-4 Skyhawk jet, blowing it out of the sky.
When John ejected, part of the plane hit him -- breaking his right knee, his left arm, his right arm in three places.
An angry mob got to him.
A rifle butt broke his shoulder.
A bayonet pierced his ankle and his groin.
They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return.
John McCain said "No".
After days of neglect, covered in grime, lying in his own waste in a filthy room, a doctor attempted to set John's right arm without success ... and without anesthesia.
His other broken bones and injuries were not treated. John developed a high fever, dysentery. He weighed barely a hundred pounds.
Expecting him to die, his captors placed him in a cell with two other POWs who also expected him to die.
But with their help, John McCain fought on.
So then they put him in solitary confinement...for over two years.
Isolation ... incredible heat beating on a tin roof. A light bulb in his cell burning 24 hours a day.
Boarded-up cell windows blocking any breath of fresh air.
The oppressive heat causing boils the size of baseballs under his arms.
The outside world limited to what he could see through a crack in a door.
What was done to John McCain was a war crime. His enduring of it, and his refusal to be released ahead of his fellows does indeed speak to enormous character, which is why so many of us love the man. But today's great crime is that what was done to him is now being done to others ... under orders from the president of the United States. You can either defend this, or you can use semantics to cover it up. The Bush administration has chosen the worst of all paths in this, and the taint of their actions is now spreading.
We have to start speaking English again. Asking Fred Thompson directly whether he believes John McCain was tortured in Vietnam is a start.
[Update: one other thing. Thompson does not mention, again bizarrely, the stress positions that feature very prominently in McCain's own account of his torture. Why not?
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