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Posted by on Sep 8, 2008 in At TMV | 12 comments

Why John McCain Really Wasn’t Tortured & Other News On The Bush Torture Regime


Don’t expect the Bush administration’s embrace of Nazi-like torture techniques to be a talking point as the presidential campaign heads into the home stretch. As despicable as the practice has been — and made worse by the cover-ups, obfuscations and junk-law opinions justifying its use — torture simply isn’t on the radar screen of most voters.

01aaamccain_nixon.jpgThat so noted, and overlooking any mental torture that previous presidents may have suffered at the hands of their First Ladies, John McCain becomes the first potential president to have been physically tortured by an enemy while serving his country. As he has written in his memoirs, his North Vietnamese jailers withheld medical treatment, forced him to stand for long periods of time, put him in stress positions, beat him and deprived him of sleep during five and a half years of captivity.

All are clearly torture techniques, right?

Not according to Dick Cheney, the architect of the torture regime. Not according to his feckless boss, who long denied that he approved of torture and then publicly embraced it. Not according to the former concierge of the eponymously named Rumsfeld Gulag, a global system that includes Guantánamo Bay and secret prisons in foreign countries and aboard U.S. Navy ships. Not according to David Addington, who has proudly served as Cheney’s dungeon master.

It is the view of all of these cowards, smugly reinforced in John Yoo’s ethically- and morally-impaired Justice Department memos, that McCain was not tortured because the techniques employed against him were merely used to extract accurate information.

And so, as Andrew Sullivan wryly notes:

“The false confessions that McCain was forced to make were, according to the logic of the Bush administration, as accurate as the ‘intelligence’ we have procured from ‘interrogating” terror suspects.

“Feel safer?”

McCain’s service during the Vietnam War must be honored on its face. That is in no way diminished by the fact he was, by many accounts, the spoiled brat son and grandson of admirals and an underachiever at the Naval Academy and in the cockpit. He destroyed no fewer than three fighter jets (or four or five, depending upon the account) in the months before he was shot down, quite possibly because of the trademark impetuosity we saw in his selection of Sarah Palin.

But that is where I draw the line as a fellow veteran, albeit one who was never war hero material.

McCain has flipped and flopped on torture since the Bush administration’s mischief first saw the light of day and hasn’t spoken out forcefully against it — let alone commented on it — since he launched his campaign. Meanwhile, he has shamelessly played the POW Card when he doesn’t want to answer a question.

Does this diminish McCain’s stature as a war hero? No. Does it diminish his stature as a presidential wannabe? Absolutely.

Because in the end, accruing power and prestige has been more important to McCain than standing up for veterans, let alone standing on principle, which makes his newly minted claim that he is an agent of change so patently false.

Please click here to read more at Kiko’s House and here for an index with links to other torture-related posts.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • superdestroyer


    How many individuals involving in torturing Americans have ever been prosecuted for violations of the Geneva Convention. How many times have you personally called for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for toruring Americans and for violating the Geneva Convetion My guess would be zero

    The progressive would have some crediblityon torture is they could show that they were interested in torture commited by North Vietnam, North Korea, etc. I guess insulting Americans is more fun that remaining consistent.

  • shaun


    Your abject lack of intelligence is not insulting, it’s just pathetic that you don’t get it.

    A core reason why using torture is so despicable is because it lowers the U.S. to the level of the North Vietnamese, North Koreans, Communist Chinese, Soviet Communists, Khmer Rouge, Nazis, etc., etc.

    Get a grip, man!

  • RememberNovember

    Seriously. Heros don’t hit first, bullies do.

  • DLS

    [sigh] Bash, bash, bash. Will we see anything new in the next seven weeks?

    Or will it get worse if McCain-Palin [insert clarion sound] beats Obama-Biden [kazoo]?

  • Manchester2

    This was one of Shaun’s better posts. Sen. McCain’s bobbing and weaving on the torture question is legitimate fodder, as are his votes against veteran benefits. In the interest of equal time, can we expect any posts from you on Democratic foibles?

  • shaun


    I have gone hard at Clinton and Obama on occasion and will continue to point out those foibles. I’ll also be cuffing Biden if he doesn’t release his medical records stat.

    • PWT

      Will you be cuffing Obama until he releases his medical records?

      I know, very trollish of me, but, I see some Obama style rhetorical flourish at work here. Promising future change without having demostrated the ability to bring about such change in the past. In your case, claiming that you’ll be just as tough on the democratic ticket as you’ve been on the republican ticket without any evidence of having done so in the past.

  • PWT,
    I’m pretty sure Shaun went after Obama for his flipflop on wiretapping.

    But still, this is torture for Christ’s sake.

  • As Shaun points out, McCain was NOT tortured, not by the Bush metric. He simply had to endure, as one of the commenters here put it, “somewhat uncomfortable” interviews. How can any of you support kidnapping, torture, ungrounded detention and the murder of prisoners? I will never understand it. You respond, as McCain does, by trying to change the subject.

    How about it? PWT, DLS, superdestroyer, CStanley. Do you denounce and deplore torture and insist that it not be done in our name? I want a clear declaration. Here’s mine:

    Torture has no place in the treatment of prisoners of any kind, no matter what heinous crime we suspect the prisoners of. Furthermore every single prisoner of any kind has the right to know the charge against her, the evidence supporting that charge and has the right to defend herself against those charges. Those not charged or against whom we do not have sound evidence should be released.

  • onleyone

    really, guys: cry “partisan” all you like, but you have absolutely no moral leg to stand on if you want to argue that mcCain is a heroic POW who endured torture, and at the same time claim that what the CIA does is not.

    because he is, and the CIA does.

  • Leonidas


    I agree with you on most of the torture issue, but can’t you just post one article without some stupid partisan comments like McCain destroyed 3 jets? Its incredibly tacky. You belittle the rest of your commentary when you include such tackiness. But don’t worry, NBC wont be kicking you off this forum for such, though your comments do resemble Keith O’Reillyman. And ytes I see Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly both as horrible commentators.

  • rosiegots

    I love the US but I truly have a problem with how spoiled the Americans are. Throughout history governments have needed to take drastic measures to protect its shores and it is no different today. It is so easy to talk crap while you are sitting on your fat ass in your nice homes. Too bad you all don’t get reincarnated into a communist country where your tongues would be cut off.

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