So it looks as if McCain, Lindsay, and Warner have gone along with a fake “compromise” that will allow torture.
The Republicans, of course, are openly chortling about how they’ve mousetrapped the Democrats. For them, this was never about national security; it’s always been about November. To some extent, it will certainly work. It’s not, after all, hard for a party with absolutely no moral principles to outmaneuver a party some of whose members still vaguely recall what it meant to be the proud citizen of a republic that had some respect for human dignity.
And no, I have no idea what the Democrats in the Senate should do about it, or for that matter what they should have done about it. I know that as a Senator I couldn’t vote for the bill; indeed, doing so might in itself constitute a war crime. But then I’m not a Senator.
One thing I am certain of: the claim that we can’t specify which torture techniques are, and aren’t, outlawed by the bill (for security reasons, you know) is absurd on its face. Unless a reasonable person reading a law can tell whether an act he contemplates doing would violate it, that law is, as the lawyers say, “void for vagueness,” because punishing someone for something he couldn’t know was a crime violates the Due Process clause.
At minimum, then, someone ought to stand up on the Senate floor and demand that McCain and his accomplices state for the record whether they think the law bans waterboarding (probably), sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and stress positions (probably not). There’s something to be said for defining just precisely how far down the road to Hell this country has gone under the able leadership of George W. Bush.
As to McCain, recall the words of Thomas Jefferson: .”Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.” Whatever courage, whatever principle, he once had he left behind him on the campaign trail.