McCain Concedes Right to Define "Torture" to Bush

You can read the Bill here (pdf file). Other than specifically banning that which was already obviously banned – murder, rape, maiming – the Bill provides a litany of vague and ambiguous phrases (e.g. “Grave Breaches”, “severe physical or mental pain or suffering”) as to what the Bush administration can or cannot do in interrogating detainees and, most disturbingly, the phrases are left to the interpretation of the President himself.

So when McCain, Graham and Warner tell you that water boarding is prohibited, don’t believe them. There is no express provision barring waterboarding, stress positions, sleep depravation, sensory depravation, exposing detainess to extreme temperatures, etc. Indeed, White House officials have made clear, their interpretation of the Bill means the CIA can continue doing what they’ve been doing. The Bill’s also retroactive to 1997 — there must’ve been a lot of this stuff needing ex post facto legal validation.

Worse, the Bill now creates the legal basis military interrogators have said they would need before they too engaged in the techniques that the CIA has been using. The Bill actually expands the ability of our government to torture.

Short of getting another “look at me” moment from an adoring and drooling press, McCain has accomplished nothing in the fight to preserve our national identity as a civilized country that takes the moral high ground against torture.

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