When asked to judge the Bush administration this morning during an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said “history will judge that” but then immediately began making an attempt to distance himself from President Bush. One area of “disagreement” McCain cited was torture:
McCAIN: I obviously don’t want to torture any prisoners. There’s a long list of areas that we were in disagreement on –
WALLACE: You’re not suggesting he did want to torture prisoners.
McCAIN: Well, waterboarding to me is torture, OK? And waterboarding was advocated by the administration and, according to published reports, was used. But the point is, we’ve had our disagreements.
McCain seems to forget that he voted against a bill that would have banned the CIA from using waterboarding. In fact, when the bill passed, McCain urged Bush to veto it, which he did. Thus, McCain’s claim that he “obviously doesn’t want to torture prisoners” rings hollow. Indeed, because of Bush’s veto, the CIA retains the option of waterboarding prisoners:
Still, waterboarding remains in the CIA’s tool kit. The technique can be used, but it requires the consent of the attorney general and president on a case-by-case basis. Bush wants to keep that option open.
“I cannot sign into law a bill that would prevent me, and future presidents, from authorizing the CIA to conduct a separate, lawful intelligence program, and from taking all lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack,” Bush said in a statement.
McCain also said he differed from Bush on climate change, yet he plans to run on the GOP’s election platform, which is “loaded with caveats about the uncertainty of science and the need to ‘resist no-growth radicalism’ in taking on climate change.”
“I’ve been called a quote maverick,” McCain told Wallace, arguing his point. Yet McCain and his conservative allies have yet to indicate how his administration would be anything but a third Bush term.
WALLACE: Big question, how do you assess the Bush presidency?
MCCAIN: I think history will judge that. I do think it’s a fact that America has not been attacked again since 9/11. I think the president deserves credit for that. I think history will judge the president.
As is well-known, I was adamantly opposed to the spending spree that we went on, and predicted that we would be in the difficulties as far as our physical sanity is concerned if we continued the largest increase in government since the Great Society. And I urged vetoes.
I believe strongly that we needed to address the issue of climate change in a comprehensive fashion. I obviously don’t want to torture any prisoners. There is a long list of areas that we were in disagreement on. But I also think…
WALLACE: You’re not suggesting he did want to torture prisoners?
MCCAIN: Well, waterboarding to me is torture, OK? And waterboarding was advocated by the administration, and according to a published report, was used. But the point is we’ve had our disagreements.