THE STRAIGHTTALK EXPRESS TO TORTURE TOWN.

Steve Benen examines John McCain's sell-out on torture:

To briefly recap, a spending bill to finance the nation’s intelligence efforts went to conference, where Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) added an important provision [requiring] the intelligence community to abide by the same interrogation standards articulated in the Army Field Manual, which, of course, prohibit torture.

For McCain, this should have been an easy one. After all, he recently argued, rather forcefully, during a Republican presidential debate, “I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not 24 and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. And 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.”

That was then. When push came to shove, and the nation looked to the senator take a stand on principle, McCain balked. He was against torture before he was for it.

Brian Beutler addresses McCain's tortured justifications for his vote against banning torture. Marty Lederman has more. Josh Patashnik comments:

It would be nice if McCain would spell out which techniques he thinks are appropriate for the CIA to use--because his anti-torture credibility is sinking pretty rapidly.

To which torture supporter Michael Goldfarb responds with the debating equivalent of dropping one's foil and climbing a tree:

And thus a 23 year-old reporter-researcher at the New Republic questions the "anti-torture credibility" of John McCain.

Touche! I'm not sure if I myself make the Goldfarb-approved cut-off date for being old enough to criticize certain politicians, but here goes: John McCain makes a lot of grave, serious comments in a grave, serious voice about how wrong torture is. His own war record, rightly, initially gave him a lot of credibility on this score. But instead of using that credibility to actually prevent torture, McCain has repeatedly supported legislative loopholes which continue to enable it. Given how relentlessly McCain and his supporters have milked McCain's biography, I think it's entirely fair and appropriate to ask whether they've actually been milking a bull.

--Matthew Duss

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