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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bush Administration Says McCain "Not Tortured" in Vietnam

By way of Andrew Sullivan comes this shocking accusation by the Bush administration that, contrary to all of McCain's many (repeated, again and again, ad infinitum) claims otherwise, the Senator from Arizona was in fact, not tortured during his time as a POW. Multiple administration officials have repeatedly claimed that McCain was not tortured. People like Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Don Rumsfeld, David Addington and George Tenet. All calling the presumptive Republican presidential nominee a liar. That's cold.

Why, I'd expect this to be all over the news already, or at least to hear a reporter ask McCain how he feels, knowing that the current administration calls bullshit on his claims of torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese:
In all the discussion of John McCain's recently recovered memory of a religious epiphany in Vietnam, one thing has been missing. The torture that was deployed against McCain emerges in all the various accounts. It involved sleep deprivation, the withholding of medical treatment, stress positions, long-time standing, and beating. Sound familiar?

According to the Bush administration's definition of torture, McCain was therefore not tortured.

Cheney denies that McCain was tortured; as does Bush. So do John Yoo and David Addington and George Tenet. In the one indisputably authentic version of the story of a Vietnamese guard showing compassion, McCain talks of the agony of long-time standing. A quarter century later, Don Rumsfeld was putting his signature to memos lengthening the agony of "long-time standing" that victims of Bush's torture regime would have to endure. These torture techniques are, according to the president of the United States, merely "enhanced interrogation."

No war crimes were committed against McCain. And the techniques used are, according to the president, tools to extract accurate information. And so the false confessions that McCain was forced to make were, according to the logic of the Bush administration, as accurate as the "intelligence" we have procured from "interrogating" terror suspects. Feel safer?

The cross-in-the-dirt story - although deeply fishy to any fair observer - is in the realm of the unprovable. But the actual techniques used on McCain, and the lies they were designed to legitimize, are a matter of historical record. And the government of the United States now practices the very same techniques that the Communist government of North Vietnam once proudly used against American soldiers. When they are used against future John McCains, the victims will know, in a way McCain didn't, that their own government has no moral standing to complain.

Now the kicker: in the Military Commissions Act, McCain acquiesced to the use of these techniques against terror suspects by the CIA. And so the tortured became the enabler of torture. Someone somewhere cried out in pain for the same reasons McCain once did. And McCain let it continue.
You know, I'd never even thought of this. Thanks Andrew.

So, not only is the Bush administration calling McCain a liar (or a crybaby), but McCain in turn actually endorsed the same "enhanced interrogation" techniques used against him by the North Vietnamese, condemning other human beings in US custody to suffer the same fate he did, including all of the lingering physical and (as becomes more and more apparent) mental effects. Nice. No wonder one of his fellow POWs spoke out against him:
I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60's and 70's. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John's age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.
You know what? I don't want to hear you go to that well to defend yourself anymore, Senator. Okay?

UPDATE: For those who are having trouble understanding and for clarity's sake in general: I, for one, firmly believe that the treatment McCain suffered (and which we now employ on others) was most definitely torture. The point of this (as well as Sullivan’s original) post is simply that by the Bush administration’s redefinition, they’re claiming that what McCain suffered wasn’t torture at all. I wholeheartedly disagree with their assessment, as well as their own use of the very same techniques used to torture McCain.

No one is suggesting that - here in the reality based community, at least - McCain is actually lying about what he suffered, or that he was not in fact tortured. The ugly point about his hypocrisy with regard to the MCA, on the other hand, can be taken without salt.

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