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September 25, 2006
McCain Can't Keep His Mouth Shut

During the negotiations over the legislation intended to authorize CIA detentions and interrogations of terrorists, officials in all agencies and in Congress took pains to avoid specifying the kinds of techniques approved or forbidden by the competing proposals. The CIA and the White House explicitly told reporters that revealing those techniques could allow terrorists to prepare for future interrogations. So it probably surprised everyone when John McCain decided to reveal the limits within the compromise legislation on national television yesterday:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named three measures that he said would no longer be allowed under a provision barring techniques that cause serious mental or physical suffering by U.S. detainees: extreme sleep deprivation, forced hypothermia and "waterboarding," which simulates drowning. He also said other "extreme measures" would be banned.

McCain's remarks were unusual because public officials involved in the lengthy public debate about U.S. interrogation practices have rarely made specific references to the CIA's actions, choosing instead to make general claims about the need for rough interrogations or a desire to stop abusive behavior.

"It's clear we have to have the high moral ground," said McCain, a former POW tortured by prison guards in Vietnam, on CBS's "Face The Nation." "I am confident that some of the abuses that were reportedly committed in the past will be prohibited in the future."

Bill Frist missed McCain's appearance on CBS. He told ABC's "This Week" that "no responsible person" would list the specific techniques allowed and disallowed in a public forum. Unfortunately, his colleague didn't get that memo.

What kind of damage could this do? Islamists who watch American media will note the exceptions McCain listed and tell their operatives that they will not need to prepare for waterboarding and can prepare for less rigorous techniques. While it isn't quite the same thing as telling them all of the approved techniques, it gives another edge to the Islamists -- an edge we didn't need to give them.

Serious and responsible people would understand this. Apparently, John McCain doesn't qualify as either.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 25, 2006 5:11 AM

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Tracked on September 25, 2006 11:17 AM

» Waterboarding, Sleep Deprivation, and Hypothermia Banned from Outside The Beltway | OTB
John McCain has specifically listed the previously accepted interrogation techniques banned in the compromise between the White House and the Congress. A Republican senator who played a leading role in drafting new rules for U.S. interrogations of terr... [Read More]

Tracked on September 25, 2006 12:09 PM


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