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McCain Suggests Bush Has Endorsed Torture


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, visited the Mississippi Emergency Management Operations Command Center in Jackson, Miss., August 31, 2008. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Sen. John McCain today issued some of his strongest criticism of President Bush over an aggressive interrogation technique, clearly suggesting that the president has endorsed torture.

During an assessment of the Bush presidency on "Fox News Sunday," McCain discussed the administration's use over "waterboarding," a technique that has been used to interrogate terrorist detainees.

"Waterboarding to me is torture, okay? And waterboarding was advocated by the administration, and according to a published report, was used," McCain said. "I obviously don't want to torture any prisoners."

McCain also said that he opposed the "spending spree" in the Bush years and wanted to take bigger steps to fight climate change. He gave the president credit for preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

The issue of waterboarding has been a central one for McCain, a former prisoner of war who sponsored in 2005 the Detainee Treatment Act. That legislation forbade the U.S. military from using waterboarding and other harsh tactics on prisoners, but it exempted the CIA. Bush signed the legislation grudgingly, adding a signing statement that stated the president will decide when and how the bill's limitations apply during wartime.

Earlier this year, McCain voted against making the CIA subject to the act. Bush later vetoed that bill. Democrats accused McCain of ignoring his principles to appeal to core Republican voters; aides rejected that, saying the vote was consistent with his long-expressed view on how best to prosecute the war.

McCain's comments, made in a taped interview broadcast the day before the Republican National Convention opens in St. Paul, Minn., came as Hurricane Gustav threatened to wallop the Gulf Coast.

In comments that previously had been released, McCain said his team was studying "various options" about changing the convention's schedule, "maybe devoting some of the activities to bringing [the] American people's attention to trying to help [the hurricane's] victims."

"We don't want to appear in any way festive when you have that kind of tragedy possibly revisiting itself on the city of New Orleans and areas around it," he said.

McCain faced questions about his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced on Friday.

McCain called Palin "a partner and a soulmate ... a person who will help me reform Washington and change the way they do business."

On ABC's "This Week," the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee said the choice of Palin was evidence that McCain had gone from being a "maverick" to an "erratic" politician.

In his heart, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) said, McCain wanted to pick former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a Republican, or Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut. Both are good friends of McCain, and both favor abortion rights.

"Rush Limbaugh and the right wing vetoed it," Kerry said. "John McCain was forced to come back and pick a sort of Cheney-esque social conservative who's going to satisfy the base."

Kerry said the choice of Palin links McCain even more to the Bush legacy.

"We've been warning against the third term of George Bush. With the choice of Governor Palin, it's now the third term of Bush-Cheney," he said.

Some political analysts have speculated that, by choosing a woman for his ticket, McCain was trying to attract wayward supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Kerry said McCain shouldn't count on it.

"The people who supported Hillary Clinton are not going to be seduced just because John McCain has picked a woman," he said. "They're going to look at what she supports."

Kerry said Palin fails the "threshold test" of a vice president: "to prove to the American people that the person that you've chosen can fill in tomorrow" as president.

Asked if McCain had picked someone who could lead the country if something happened to him, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close friend of his, first sidestepped the question.

"I think what he was looking for is a partner to tell a story about what he wants to do in Washington," Graham said on ABC.

Pressed, Graham said Palin has far more of the right kind of experience for the job than does Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

"What has he done? What has he done? What has Senator Obama done in terms of managing a war?" Graham said.

On Fox, McCain cited several reasons that Palin's experience on foreign affairs surpasses Obama's. First, he said, she agrees with him on issues such as Iran and the Iraq war. Plus, he said, Palin, as governor, has headed the Alaskan National Guard.

In an ABC interview, McCain's wife, Cindy, noted that Palin is especially suited to confront foreign issues such as the resurgence of Russia because Alaska is in close proximity to it.

"Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here," Cindy McCain said.

Cindy McCain also addressed her just-completed trip to war-torn Georgia, calling it the kind of trip she said she'd like to take more often as a first lady.

"I don't represent the government or anything, but, from the humanitarian aspect, it's very important that we continue to get aid in," she said.

Cindy McCain also addressed Obama's acceptance speech at last week's Democratic convention, saying she took umbrage at comments that McCain has lived a lavish life and can't relate to ordinary Americans.

"I'm offended by Barack Obama saying that about my husband," she said. "My husband was a Navy boy. His father and mother were in the Navy. I mean, there's nothing elitist about that."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who was passed over by McCain for Palin, said his fellow governor would bring real-life economic experience to the ticket.

"One of the objectives is to be able to relate to ... and meet and address the needs of average Americans," Pawlenty said on "Meet the Press."

And Lieberman also supported the pick, calling it "a bold choice" on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"If this is a change election, it's about changing Washington so that it works again," Lieberman said, "so that this alliance of partisan political power-brokers and special-interests peddlers is broken."

McCain said ads of his that compare Obama to celebrities and attack his record were not, in fact, negative.

"It's respectful. But first of all, I also at that time asked Senator Obama to go to town hall meetings with me. We could appear in front of the American people, the way Barry Goldwater and Jack Kennedy had pledged to do," McCain said. "I'll tell you, that changes the tenor of a campaign, I know because I've done them in the past."

By Post Editor  |  August 31, 2008; 2:11 PM ET
Categories:  Sunday Talkies  
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Comments

How well did Obama vet Joe Biden?
Didn't he discover that Biden's son - the lobbyist, not the one who gave that excellent speech at the Dem Convention, accepted a $500,000 contract from MBNA, just as his father sold his vote on the Bankruptcy Reform Act to the credit card giant? See last week's New York Times and check it out. Biden was one of the few Democrats to vote with MBNA.


The CNN and ZOGBY polls which actually WERE started after the Palin pick (Gallup started on 8/28 1 day prior ) show a one pt lead for Obama and a 2 pt lead for McCain respectively.... so far so good on the Palin pick.....

I just saw a beautiful ad for compressed natural gas, a domestic energy source that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil....which executive in the race got a natural gas pipeline approved in her state???

Joe Biden "LITERALLY" voted against the first transalaskan pipeline!

Wait, Isn't Obama promising energy independence? How? his VP candidate was against bringing 17% of our current domestic supply down from Alaska...

Obama himself is the shill of illinois farmers, pawning off their 7x less efficient (than sugar cane ethanol,proven) corn ethanol on us, which uses a unit of petroleum for every unit of energy it produces!

Maybe TIRE INFLATION is the answer that will save us from dependency on foreign oil??? Get real people....Obama wants the price of gasoline to stay high, as does his energy guru Al Gore, in order to reduce demand...THAT's his and Biden's plan- no pipelines and no drilling- stop supporting platitudes and examine the Emperor's New Clothes.

Posted by: Scott | September 1, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

How well did Obama vet Joe Biden?
Didn't he discover that Biden's son - the lobbyist, not the one who gave that excellent speech at the Dem Convention, accepted a $500,000 contract from MBNA, just as his father sold his vote on the Bankruptcy Reform Act to the credit card giant? See last week's New York Times and check it out. Biden was one of the few Democrats to vote with MBNA.


The CNN and ZOGBY polls which actually WERE started after the Palin pick (Gallup started on 8/28 1 day prior ) show a one pt lead for Obama and a 2 pt lead for McCain respectively.... so far so good on the Palin pick.....

I just saw a beautiful ad for compressed natural gas, a domestic energy source that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil....which executive in the race got a natural gas pipeline approved in her state???

Joe Biden "LITERALLY" voted against the first transalaskan pipeline!

Wait, Isn't Obama promising energy independence? How? his VP candidate was against bringing 17% of our current domestic supply down from Alaska...

Obama himself is the shill of illinois farmers, pawning off their 7x less efficient (than sugar cane ethanol,proven) corn ethanol on us, which uses a unit of petroleum for every unit of energy it produces!

Maybe TIRE INFLATION is the answer that will save us from dependency on foreign oil??? Get real people....Obama wants the price oif gasoline to stay high, as does his energy guru Al Gore, in oredr to reduce demand...THAT's his ans Biden's plan- no pipelines and no drilling- stop supporting platitudes and examine the Emperor's New Clothes.


Posted by: Scott | September 1, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

At least he can spell JUDGMENT.

Posted by: JakeD | September 1, 2008 1:34 AM | Report abuse

McCain just continues to show bad judgement...I hope he is ok?

Posted by: tally | September 1, 2008 12:52 AM | Report abuse

McCain forgot to mention that his experience as a POW makes a hurricane look like a splash from a water puddle. He didn't have a kitchen table and he would have enjoyed a strong breeze every once in a while.

You see, if you haven't heard TODAY. McCain was a POW for 5 years.

Posted by: DougH | August 31, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Just what we need a backward religious dictator, taking choice way from women...she's a perfect partner for a fake war hero..one thing Mccain and Palin need to do to win, is make sure no one see's the propaganda films he made in Hanoi and make sure know finds out his nickname was song bird. Oh and by the way, if they had offered to release him for propaganda reasons and he refused, ask yourself why wouldn't they just drive him and dump him near a US LZ or base. Or hand him to the Red Cross.. it's all a lie, and he made sure that all records were sealed forever... so your just taking his word for it!!

Posted by: Keaton | August 31, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

mike:

I would not call that "fraud" as I was concerned about retention rates with Webb's GI bill. McCain's bill addressed this issue by actually providing MORE benefits for those vets who stay longer. Were you also upset about John Kerry not voting in 2004?

Posted by: JakeD | August 31, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Jack...I wish the Obama campaign surrogates had you type of tenancity and resolve. You make an excellent point about McCain's voting record when it came to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | August 31, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

jake, mccain didn't sign anything, right. mccain didn't do anything. Though he was against the GI Bill, he didn't even have the guts to show up and vote against it. In fact, he hasn't shown up at all this year in the Senate. Has not been there a day. Though they did miss some votes, Sens. Obama, Clinton, and Biden were there for important votes, including the GI Bill. mccain, Mr. Support the Troops, would not support the veterans and has voted against other veterans benefits. And, though he did not support the GI Bill, he gladly took bush's congratulations for putting it through. Can you say, "Fraud?"

Posted by: mike l | August 31, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

This blog noted that on the ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous Cindy McCain said the following about Palin and her experience with Russia:

"Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here,"

Holy SH!T! This dumb type of response will not be vetted by the media. McCain needs to keep Cindy off national interviews before she gives "political blonds" an even worse name.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | August 31, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Just this week John McCain said that "[t]here must be no forgotten
places in America" and is traveling to New Orleans today to make the case.
But don't believe the rhetoric. The fact is, McCain has a history of
denying the Gulf Coast aid when it needs it most and a record of outrageous
votes to show for it. Instead of helping the area rebuild after Hurricane
Katrina and the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast get back on their
feet, McCain actually voted to deny emergency funding to the area, and he
voted against giving victims of Katrina access to Medicaid and unemployment
benefits. [McCain Campaign Email, 4/22/08; 2006 Senate Vote #112, 5/4/2006;
2005 Senate Vote #285, 11/3/2005; 2006 Senate Vote #6, 2/2/2006; 2005
Senate Vote #229, 9/14/2005; 2005 Senate Vote #234, 9/15/2005]

Posted by: jack | August 31, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Bu$h:

McCain didn't refuse to "sign" anything.

JACK:

Care to answer my questions?

Posted by: JakeD | August 31, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a fraud who uses our troops as props to get votes the same way Bush and Cheney did. McCain refused to sign the new GI Bill that provides more educational benefits for our troops after they leave the military and then he pretended as if he had supported the bill all along after it passed. The is the very same McCain who insists he supports our troops. The same McCain who has always voted in lockstep with the Bush/Cheney administration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK_9sI7hzAc&feature=related
.

Posted by: Bu$h Wacked | August 31, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

It will be too little too late and he has too much history with Bush. Mccain is again forgetting about the internet, youtube and so on. What you say will haunt you forever today.

WELCOME TO THE 21st CENTURY JOHN MCCAIN
you can't just lie and get away with it anymore.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is an extreme right wing NEO NAZI who openly supported Buchannan who is a HOLOCAUST DENIER and praised Hitler "as a man of great courage". Palin never expressed her views about ISRAEL.
In addition, she is an evangelical idiot who still believes that THE EARTH IS FLAT and that evolution is wrong.

Jewish associations are outraged
link:http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0808/Palin_on_Israel.html?showall

Posted by: JACK | August 31, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

McCain has a good eye for women. I'm sure Cindy was hot before her drug abuse problems. Sarah is a pretty woman. His first wife, Carol, the one he left with 3 children after his adulterous affair with Cindy, was a swim suit model before an auto accident caused massive injuries.

He is a joke when it comes to conservative Christian values. He would be only the 2nd divorcee President. His morals rate much below what I would expect of a leader of our country.

Posted by: DougH | August 31, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

hey mr neo nazi,i think your head is flat-maybe you need to be waterboarded a few times.

Posted by: pj | August 31, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I hope that McCain = Bush's third (and, God willing, fourth) term.

Posted by: JakeD | August 31, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

John McCain cites his experience as a POW and torture victim as an anodyne to every mildly injurious political attack thrown his way. While his painful experience as a POW matters in the history of the man, in our nation's history, what matters now is that McCain has betrayed that experience, and the lives of thousands he could both know and not know. In doing so, he also betrayed the ideals of American fair-play and justice, going back to George Washington (who forbid his revolutionary army to engage in torture, even if the British did). As everyone should know, those ideals were not realized fully, and we are still fighting for them today. But McCain has trampled them in the mud.

This is about how John McCain, a victim of years of incarceration and of torture during the Vietnam War, helped pass the Military Commissions Act, working to leave prisoners, including prisoners he knew were innocent, in solitary confinement as "enemy combatants", and subjected to CIA torture, which was the diabolical program of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Only a few months ago, one could find McCain railing against a Supreme Court decision that gave Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court. For McCain, who languished for years in prison, it is okay if America's prisoners rot in jail forever.

McCain betrayed the rights of prisoners established by the Geneva conventions, maybe rights he did not enjoy fully as a POW himself, so all the more awful when he betrayed them and turned captives of American military power into long-term prisoners and victims of torture.

One can honor the suffering of an individual, any individual, for no man is an island, and every person's suffering diminishes me. Therefore, one can honor John McCain's suffering and the hell he endured -- as we would any human being who experienced what he did.

But no one can honor the machinations of a shameless politician who prostitutes his own suffering, turns the moral lessons of his own torture on its head, and sells out all those who would endure what he endured... for the modern equivalent of thirty pieces of silver -- electoral office.

McCain stabbed his fellow POWs in the back. This isn't about whether he confessed under torture, or whether he funded veterans issues, or not. This is about how he took the lessons it was his sad destiny to suffer, and turned them into their opposite.

In pushing and voting for the MCA, with its provisions against habeas corpus, and its endorsement of so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, McCain has committed a great moral sin. He has done this in the name of pride and power.

His defeat, his fall should be a lesson to all who would cynically pander their own hard suffering, and abandon those brothers and sisters in pain and loss, his fellow prisoners, captured in war or during civil conflict, held captive in nation after nation, by guerrilla or terrorist group, by the West or the East, by believer or infidel, prisoners both male and female, of all religions, creeds, and nationalities.

In the end it all comes down to this. When all eyes were upon him, McCain supported torture. And in doing so, he stabbed all prisoners in the back.

Posted by: astral99 | August 31, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is an extreme right wing NEO NAZI who openly supported Buchannan who is a HOLOCAUST DENIER and praised Hitler "as a man of great courage". Palin never expressed her views about ISRAEL.
In addition, she is an evangelical idiot who still believes that THE EARTH IS FLAT and that evolution is wrong.

Jewish associations are outraged
link:http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0808/Palin_on_Israel.html?showall

Posted by: JACK | August 31, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. McCain: Why did you allow Bush to get away with it, and sanction torture? Why did you deny torture before, when officially being discussed. You failed in your fundamental duties and do not understand the Constitution.

You are a shameless opportunist, lacking morality in public and private life.

Posted by: O.P. Neon | August 31, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

McCain is against waterboarding except when he's for it. He should have voted in favor of making the CIA subject to the restriction. That would have been straight talk, and a principled vote.

And Sarah is a "soulmate"? Please. I think John has a crush.

Posted by: DemoDevil | August 31, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Despite his bluster, McCain has supported Bush on torture every step of the way. This speaks directly to McCain’s character. He knows what torture can do to an individual. He knows that it is unreliable (forgetting everything that is out there about the unreliability of information provided under torture). And yet, he still voted for continuing torture of detainees.


More than once. Especially when he – of all people – was in a position to use his experience as a POW to do something for the good of the country, as opposed to using it for cynical and craven political reasons the way he has over the past few months.


There are really only two reasons why McCain, a man who himself was tortured and provided information that he knew wasn’t accurate or helpful to his captors, would approve of torture now, and neither of them speak very highly of McCain’s character:


Cynical political calculation; or
An underlying need to take revenge against and inflict severe long-term physical and mental pain on others and see them tortured.


Both of these traits are absolutely unacceptable for a President of the United States to have – whether in the role as Commander in Chief or in the role as diplomatic leader. It shows a total lack of morals, whether the lack of morals is based on compromising himself and cheapening his experiences for political and personal gain, or whether it is based on a sick twisted need to inflict pain on others (something that earned him the "McNasty" name and reputation).


If McCain really wanted to put "country first", he could have done so by speaking out against torture and coming out against Cheney and Bush and Yoo and Gonzales when it mattered. That speaks to the "cynical political calculation" I note above.


If McCain knows full well that unreliable information is provided while being tortured (which I would assume he does based on his own experience), and STILL wants others to be tortured, then that is far worse – it shows a callous disregard for human life and should serve as a wake up call for anyone that gives any validation at all to his "I was a POW so everything I say or do now should be excused" line.


Either way, two things are true – McCain knows that torture doesn’t work, and he still approves of it.


That is a sign of a serious issue that makes him unfit for the office of the Presidency.

Posted by: McCain = Bush's third term | August 31, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

NEO NAZI? Does the Obama campaign know you are on the loose again?

Posted by: JakeD | August 31, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is an extreme right wing NEO NAZI who openly supported Buchannan who is a HOLOCAUST DENIER and praised Hitler "as a man of great courage". Palin never expressed her views about ISRAEL.
In addition, she is an evangelical idiot who still believes that THE EARTH IS FLAT and that evolution is wrong.

Jewish associations are outraged
link:http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0808/Palin_on_Israel.html?showall

Posted by: JACK | August 31, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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