John McCain flip flops on torture

This video is called John McCain Flip Flops on Gay Marriage.

From the weblog in the USA of Arianna Huffington; an ex-ally of Republican presidential candidate John McCain:

John McCain Sells His Soul to the Right: Backs Off on Torture Ban

Has there ever been a more repugnant example of political pandering than John McCain’s decision to vote against a bill banning waterboarding, putting hoods on prisoners, forcing them to perform sex acts, subjecting them to mock executions, or depriving them of food, water, and medical treatment?

That’s right, John McCain, the former POW who has long been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s disturbing embrace of extreme interrogation techniques.

But that was before his desperate attempt to win over the lunatic fringe that is running the Grand Old Party.

Earlier this week, I showed how outdated the image of McCain as an independent-thinking maverick had become — and called on the media and independent voters to snap out of their 2000 reverie and see the 2008 McCain for what he has turned into: a Rove-embracing Bush clone, willing to jettison his principles in his hunger for the presidency.

And now comes this latest unconscionable capitulation, which should drive a stake through the heart of the McCain-as-straight-talker meme once and for all.

McCain the maverick had been unequivocal in his condemnation of torture, and eloquent in expressing why. “We’ve sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists,” he said at an Oval Office appearance in December 2005, after he had forced the president to endorse an earlier torture ban McCain had authored and pushed through (a ban the president quickly subverted with a signing statement). “What we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are. And I think this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror.”

He made a similar case on the campaign trail in Iowa in October 2007: “When I was imprisoned, I took heart from the fact that I knew my North Vietnamese captors would never be treated like I was treated by them. There are much better and more effective ways to get information. You torture someone long enough, he’ll tell you whatever he thinks you want to know.”

And there was this pithy and powerful summation of why torture should never be an option: “It’s not about who they are, it’s about who we are.”

Of course, all that was before he put his conscience in leg irons — and before caving to the would-be Torquemadas on the Right became his campaign strategy.

Now we get tortured logic instead. Taking to the Senate floor to justify his vote against the torture ban yesterday, McCain twisted himself in knots trying to explain how he could sponsor a bill — the 2006 Detainee Treatment Act — that prohibits the use of any cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment by the military while voting against a bill that would extend that ban to the CIA and other intelligence agencies: “It is important to the war on terror that the CIA have the ability to [detain and interrogate terrorists]. At the same time the CIA’s interrogation program has to abide by the rules, including the standards of the Detainee Treatment Act.”

Got that? The CIA has to abide by rules prohibiting torture but we can’t tie the CIA’s hands by making it abide by rules prohibiting torture. Straight talk, RIP.

What’s more, McCain said he voted against the bill because it would be a mistake to “tie the CIA to the Army Field Manual” — a Manual he gave a ringing endorsement to in a November debate: “I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn’t think they need to do anything else. My friends, this is what America is all about.”

But not apparently once you have the White House in your sights. Then all bets — and deeply held convictions — are off.

The media and independent voters need to stop offering McCain valentines, and start interrogating him — humanely, of course — about the Faustian bargain he has struck.

McCain Flip Flops on Ethics Reform – Pandering: video here.

McCain flip flops on Social Security: here.

Already from 2006: McCain’s flourishing flip-flop list: here. And here.

Bush defends torture: here.

10 thoughts on “John McCain flip flops on torture

  1. McCain, you call this straight talk?
    Posted by: “lilgeorgiehas2go”
    Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:39 pm (PST)

    McCain’s Rewrite of His Anti-Rumsfeld Script

    By Peter Baker

    As he gets closer to the Republican nomination, John McCain has been trying to balance his unqualified support for the Iraq war by reminding audiences that he was also a tough critic of the way it was managed until President Bush finally changed strategies a year ago. In recent weeks, McCain has gone so far as to tell audiences that he was “the only one” who called for then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s resignation.

    The only trick is he never did, at least not publicly. The senator from Arizona was a tough critic of Rumsfeld and more than once declared that he had no confidence in the Pentagon chief in the two years before Bush finally dumped him in November 2006. But even as he was criticizing Rumsfeld, McCain typically stopped short of calling for the defense secretary to step down on the grounds that it was up to the president to decide who served in his Cabinet.

    McCain has rewritten that history a couple of times lately. While campaigning in Fort Myers, Fla., on Jan. 26, he told a crowd: “In the conflict that we’re in, I’m the only one that said we have to abandon the Rumsfeld strategy — and Rumsfeld — and adopt a new strategy.” Four days later during a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., aired on CNN, McCain said, “I’m the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go.”

    A McCain spokesman acknowledged yesterday that was not correct. “He did not call for his resignation,” said the campaign’s Brian Rogers. “He always said that’s the president’s prerogative.” Asked specifically about the senator’s statements in Florida and California, Rogers said, “I think he’s really just pointing out that he’s the only one who really called out the Rumsfeld strategy, and that is certainly true again and again.”

    McCain’s enhanced version of his opposition to Rumsfeld has come as he begins to wrap up the Republican nomination and pivot toward the general election, where his embrace of the war presumably will not prove as popular as it has been with the Republican base. McCain’s false account has been unwittingly incorporated into the narrative he is selling by some news organizations, including The Washington Post, that have repeated his assertion that he called for Rumsfeld’s resignation, even though he did not. Liberal bloggers and advocacy organizations such as Media Matters have pointed out the discrepancy.


  2. McCain endorsed by Iran-Contra Scandal’s Ollie North
    Posted by: “lilgeorgiehas2go” lilgeorgiehas2go
    Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:18 am (PST)

    This morning the McCain campaign helpfully circulated a column Oliver North had penned in the Washington Times, extolling the senator’s virtues, under the heading “In Case You Missed It: Oliver North on John McCain.” The e-mail made a point of pulling out the key laudatory quote and placing it in bold, making it even easier for reporters to read: “Neither John McCain, nor anyone in his campaign asked me to write this column. But I cannot sit silently while my fellow conservatives do to John McCain what GOP ‘moderates’ did to me. Today, the stakes for our country are far higher, the implications for the future far greater than who sits in one of 100 U.S. Senate seats. Now, our nation is at war against a vicious foe. We need a president who has proven how to win it.”

    That prompted The Trail to ponder a simple question: Is McCain pleased to receive North’s endorsement, given the fact that the failed GOP senatorial candidate was convicted in 1989 of shredding documents, accepting an illegal gratuity and aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress? Of course, a three-judge panel vacated North’s conviction the following year on a technicality, calling for proceedings to determine whether North’s immunized testimony influenced witnesses in his trial. And after the Supreme Court declined to review the case, U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell — who had earlier sentenced North to a three-year suspended prison term, two years’ probation, $150,000 in fines and 1,200 hours’ community service — dismissed it. Still, McCain was serving in Congress when North was conducting the activities in question, so it seemed like a reasonable question to ask.

    The McCain campaign’s response? “We’ll let the comments in the release stand,” wrote spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker in an e-mail. “Thanks.”

    John McCain was also a bit player in Ollie’s 1994 Senate race. In June, just after Ollie was nominated by a Republican convention to take on Chuck Robb, many Republicans balked and refused to support North. Bob Dole and John McCain were both interviewed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on June 5. Dole said he wouldn’t support North and would instead meet with J. Marshall Coleman, a former Republican attorney general running as an independent. That sent huge shock waves through Virginia. McCain said he would support North but offered disparaging words about his chances of winning that were seen as an additional shot by national Republicans who clearly didn’t want him. Here’s what McCain said on the show:

    “I know nothing illegal or unconstitutional that took place in the Virginia Republican Party’s process of selecting their nominee. I’ll support their nominee and it’s — clearly, it’s Colonel North at this time. And by the way, I’m the person that called for the resignation of the governor of this state, who was of my party. But I don’t see anything wrong with the process. I think from a clear political standpoint, our chances of winning that seat are dramatically diminished. There’s no doubt about that. But I respect the views and decision of the Virginia Republican Party.”


  3. Dear Friend,

    I taught prisoner of war interrogation for 18 years to U.S. Army soldiers. Neither I nor the Army taught torture: it’s morally wrong, it endangers our own troops who may be taken prisoner, it undermines our values, and it does not produce reliable information.

    Torture is un-American.

    One year from today, we can elect a President who ‘gets it’ – and rejects it.

    Take 30 seconds to join 30,000
    others in making a difference.
    Sign the petition today!

    I’ve listened to some of our current leaders say that we should use torture – what they call “enhanced” interrogation techniques – to combat terrorism. Abandoning our principles is never the answer. An expert interrogator needs to be clever, not inhumane.

    Strong presidential leadership is needed to restore our nation’s stature in the eyes of the civilized world. This week, one year from the presidential election, I am adding my name to Human Rights First’s petition, urging all of the presidential candidates to restore our nation’s honor. You can do the same .

    Take 30 seconds to join the over 30,000 Americans on Human Rights First’s petition against torture!

    This isn’t about being tough on terrorists. It’s about what’s in the strategic interest of the United States. Torture doesn’t produce reliable information but it does harden hearts and minds against us, and torture by any agency of our government puts our own troops at greater risk. It’s time to stop playing semantic games about what torture is.

    If you’re like me, you want a President who is truly devoted to this country , its longstanding laws, and its fundamental values. A President who will:

    * Stop shipping prisoners to countries known to torture
    * Close Guantanamo
    * Restore the right of habeas corpus
    * Ensure that torture is never again a part of U.S. policy

    Take a stand – sign TODAY. This is not a partisan endeavor.

    In one year, we could be celebrating the election of a leader who understands what’s at stake. But only if we demand it today!

    Thank you for joining me and Human Rights First as we end torture and abuse in America’s name.

    Yours sincerely,

    Brigadier General David R. Irvine, USA (Ret.)

    Human Rights First is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3), international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. We do not favor or oppose any candidate for public office.


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