Ambition and moral degeneration

John McCain in 1974 knew that sleep deprivation and stress positions are forms of torture. John McCain in 2008 voted to keep them legal.

John McCain of 1974 thought that sleep deprivation and stress positions are torture. John McCain of 2008 voted against forbidding them.

It’s sad that a man whose run for the Presidency is increasingly tied to his experience as a POW should have forgotten the one lesson he previously seemed to have learned: that torture is always and everywhere wrong. Or, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”

That’s entirely separate from the problem that some of the people being tortured at Gitmo weren’t even our enemies (until the Bush Administration decided to torture them). Some were merely turned in by their neighbors, for money or for spite, like Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Christo.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: