McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill

Last week, the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill — which contained a provision banning waterboarding — to the floor for a vote. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), an outspoken waterboarding critic, voted against the bill.

At the time, ThinkProgress questioned whether McCain would stand with Bush’s threatened veto of the legislation. Today, the AP reports that McCain has come out saying Bush should veto the measure, which would make the Army Field Manual the standard for CIA interrogations.

Talking to reporters today, McCain attempted to defend his stance:

“I said there should be additional techniques allowed to other agencies of government as long as they were not” torture. “I was on the record as saying that they could use additional techniques as long as they were not cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,” McCain said.

“So the vote was in keeping with my clear record of saying that they could have additional techniques, but those techniques could not violate” international rules against torture.

But the vote was not “in keeping” with McCain’s unclear record on torture; in the past, McCain called waterboarding a “terrible and odious practice” that “should never be condoned in the U.S.”


McCain is trying to have it both ways. He claims the CIA should not use “cruel” or “unusual” interrogations, but he is defending Bush’s veto, a clear approval of waterboarding.

Furthermore, what are these “additional techniques” outside the Field Manual that McCain thinks the CIA needs? Marty Lederman noted that the CIA can currently use “stress positions, hypothermia, threats to the detainee and his family, severe sleep deprivation, and severe sensory deprivation.”

A veto would mean the “CIA will continue to assert the right to use all of these techniques.” In standing with Bush’s veto, does McCain, a former prisoner of war, support these types of harsh interrogations, too?

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