Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain Votes Against Banning Waterboarding, but Claims it is “Illegal”


BY FRANK J. RANELLI


Senator John McCain, the erstwhile prisoner of war, whose previous vehement opposition to torture stemmed from years of torment at the hands of the North Vietnamese, has voted against banning waterboarding while claiming it is illegal.


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As reported in the New York Times today, the Senate passed a measure by a vote of 51-45 to ban waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation methods.” The legislation had already cleared the House in December that would “limit all American interrogators to techniques permitted in the Army Field Manual on Interrogation.”

President Bush, threatening to veto the bill, drew harsh criticism from Democrats Charles Schumer and Senate Leader Harry Reid. In a salvo to prod Bush into signing the bill, Schumer exclaimed, “If the president vetoes intelligence authorization, he will be voting in favor of waterboarding.” While Reid proclaimed, “We are taking an important step toward restoring our moral leadership in the world. It is now up to the president to show his own moral leadership and sign this bill into law.”

However, self-proclaimed maverick and presumptive Republican nominee for President, John McCain, took a mercurial stance. McCain who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam for five years, and who was tortured while in captivity, voted against the banning of waterboarding.

McCain, claiming his support and vote for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which gives the President the ability to approve harsh interrogations methods not in the Army Field Manual, provides proof his record is consistent with his views and voting record on torture.

Nonetheless, McCain seemed to contradict himself, telling one reporter, “Waterboarding is illegal and should be banned” and “the agency (the C.I.A.) must adhere to existing federal law and international treaties.”

The “Straight Talk Express” may be posing tough on terror, in an effort to shore up a shaky relationship with hard-line conservatives, but obvious prevarications, such as this, will do little to convince likely voters McCain is anything but an opportunistic politician who claims, when asked about potential political motives, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

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