Spencer Ackerman reports that intelligence experts are worried about retaliatory Hezbollah strikes against American targets in the wake of the mysterious car bomb killing of Imad Mugniyeh, a longtime Hezbollah operative responsible for the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon. At the same time, it remains totally unclear who actually killed the guy.
It seems John McCain just voted against a bill that would have banned waterboarding. Straight talk you can use!
Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress and Ilan Goldenberg from the National Security Network talk with some members of the press about the risks that the “Awakening” movement in Iraq will undermine the prospects for political consensus and national unity there. Here’s a paper by Goldenberg and another one by Katulis going into greater depth about the issues they’re discussing.
To boil it down, though, what we’re basically seeing is an increasing fragmentation of political power and weapons and thus a multiplication of the real and potential lines of conflict.
Meanwhile, in an inverse move to Donna Edwards’ primary win, Steve Clemons reminds us that Republicans are binding themselves ever-more-tightly to Iraq:
But in the Republican primary, Wayne Gilchrest whom I admired for voting against the Iraq War and for maintaining moderate sensibilities in a pretty conservative district lost to Maryland State Senator Andy Harris — who is far more conservative.
This, incidentally, is why the predicted post-2006 wave of moderate Republicans abandoning Bush on Iraq never materialized. The couple of House members who mumbled dissent quickly found themselves faced with challengers.
Today, at 10:30 a.m. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring to the floor the Intelligence Authorization Conference Report. One provision in the legislation, pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), establishes a single interrogation standard requiring the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war, has been an outspoken advocate against waterboarding. McCain has said the practice “is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” He has previously called waterboarding “very exquisite torture.”
In a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 28, McCain said that the Army Field Manual should be the gold standard for interrogations:
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.
Today, the Senate will vote on cloture on the conference report, a procedure that requires 60 votes to proceed. Reid “will need some Republicans to cross party lines” for the anti-torture measure to pass. Reid said McCain “could be a major swing vote” today.
McCain has desperately attempted to court skeptical members of his own party as well as the far right in recent weeks. National Journal notes that “Republicans and the White House oppose” the Army Field Manual provision.
McCain has previously skipped votes that he supported, such as the economic stimulus package, because of pressure from the far right. Will he show up for today’s anti-torture legislation or give up on his principles?
If, as I hope, cloture is invoked, our Republican colleagues may raise a point of order against the Feinstein provision. We will move to waive this point of order, which, under the rules, requires 60 votes. Should Republicans force a vote to waive the point of order, I urge all of my colleagues to do so.
John McCain says that “anyone who worries about how long we’re in Iraq does not understand the military.” On the contrary, it seems to me that McCain doesn’t understand diplomacy, Iraq, foreign policy, strategy, the concept of limited resources, or just about anything else. In the short-term, the McCain plan for open-ended warfare in Iraq costs lives, money, and carries enormous political costs and opportunity costs in terms of what the United States can do around the world. In the long-term, McCainite visions for a perpetual US military presence in Iraq fuel skepticism of US motives in that country and are a key driving force behind anti-American violence.
McCain even goes so far as to directly compare his vision of Iraq to the current situation in Kuwait, where in exchange for basing rights and oil we help prop up an unaccountable and corrupt dictatorship. Fear that this is what we’re aiming for in Iraq is precisely why many Iraqis are fighting so hard against our troops, and our habit of acting this way in other Gulf states is a major driving force of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. The Bush administration has at least had the good sense to pursue this agenda quietly and in secret, but hot-head McCain can’t keep his mouth shut to avoid gaffes and can’t stop digging now that he realizes he’s in a hole.