John McCain: For Torture Before He Was Against It

In last night's debate, John McCain said:

...we have a long way to go in our intelligence services. We have to do a better job in human intelligence. And we've got to -- to make sure that we have people who are trained interrogators so that we don't ever torture a prisoner ever again.

In a letter to constituents on October 18, 2006 he said:

... techniques such as waterboarding, extreme sleep deprivation, and stress positions that cause serious pain and suffering will not be acceptable forms of interrogation.

McCain's public statements stand in stark contrast with his legislative actions.

On February 13 2008, John McCain voted to continue to allow the interrogation technique that USDNI John McConnell called torture.

In 2006 his Military Commissions Act (s.3930) allowed evidence obtained from torture, provided retroactive criminal immunity to torturers, and gave the President the power to disregard existing laws and treaties and arbitrarily determine the United States' legal definition of torture.

McCain's legislation has since been integrated into the Manual for Military Commissions whose guidelines allow evidence obtained with torture "if the judge determines that the statement is reliable and possessing sufficient probative value, and that the interests of justice would best be served by admitting the statement." (p172/III-9).

As pundits have noted with irony earlier this year, John McCain himself was not tortured in Vietnam by the definition his voting record supports.

John McCain cannot claim to hope that "we don't ever torture a prisoner ever again" when his legislation and voting record has at every turn provided cover for torture, legal protection for torturers, and allowances for torture-based evidence.