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John McCain for Anti-Torture Czar?

Posted on Apr 22, 2009
White House / Pete Souza

If the president is so worried that prosecutions of America’s torturers and torture-enablers could feel like a partisan witch hunt, why not turn to a Republican with firsthand experience in being tortured?

John McCain seems like the right man to get to the bottom of this fiasco, although the Senate Armed Services Committee has done a bang-up bipartisan job so far without need for President Obama’s approval. We know that the Arizona senator has taken some heavy shots from opponents of torture for his actions regarding anti-torture legislation, but it cannot be denied that he has painful expertise on the subject. The passion that he has voiced against torture could now serve the nation well in an effort to seek the full truth, and justice, in the present controversy.

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By cyrena, April 25, 2009 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

The unknown author of this article, (I’ve been noticing that on lot on these articles/posts by obvious republicans and/or other AOA’ers (Anti-Obama Administration) wonders this:

“If the president is so worried that prosecutions of America’s torturers and torture-enablers could feel like a partisan witch hunt, why not turn to a Republican with firsthand experience in being tortured?”

Stupid question, simple answer…

Because he’s a REPUBLICAN, and was perfectly willing to go along with all of the tortured legislation that approved the criminal acts of torture, (and retroactively at that) for all of the torturers and their enablers, of which he was one. Anybody that approved/voted for the Military Commissions Act is an enabler. Do you all have even a CLUE to how hard Dick Cheney argued for the CIA to be excluded from the prohibitions on torture, and the legislation that they made up to legally cover their own asses? That included McCain politically and morally corrupted ass as well.

Why would we choose HIM? We don’t even know the full extent of McCain’s so-called torture. He was a POW. So what? That’s a predictable action in a war…especially for the side that starts it. Folks act like McCain was the only American POW from Vietnam. If he hadn’t been the son of some other military big shot, (sound familiar?) we wouldn’t have even known about him.

So he was a POW…perfectly legal in War Law. If he was tortured, then it means the Viet Cong violated the Geneva Conventions and the prohibition against torture in the same International Law. So, they should have been prosecuted. They weren’t.
Now the US under the Dick Rove Addington Yoo administration has done the same thing for most of the past 8 years,  only it’s been an epidemic of mass violations of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions, including torture. (which is the top crime in International Law).

McCain was perfectly OK with it, and there’s no way he’s letting his buddies go down for this. That was the purpose of the MCA.

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By blogdog, April 23, 2009 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

RE: ...subvert the official story…

How’s this for subverting the official story: Current torture endurance champion KSM (183 waterboardings) is not so-called 9/11 Matermind KSM.


South Asia Times - Oct 30, 2002

A chilling inheritance of terror
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Ever since the frenzied shootout last month on September 11 in Karachi there have been doubts over whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed head of al-Qaeda’s military committee, died in the police raid on his apartment.

Certainly, another senior al-Qaeda figure, Ramzi Binalshibh, widely attributed as being the coordinator of the September 11 attacks on the United States a year earlier, was taken alive and handed over to the US. The latest information is that he is on a US warship somewhere in the Gulf.

Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)...they identified the Shaikh Mohammed’s body as their husband and father. The body was kept in a private NGO mortuary for 20 days before being buried, under the surveillance of the FBI, in a graveyard in the central district of Karachi.

complete story -

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By Mike Caetano, April 23, 2009 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment


You’re right that McCain’s words in this matter are similar to President Obama’s. Not so much for Speaker Pelosi, who is on record denying that she was informed that detainees would be subjected to waterboarding and other forms of torture. McCain’s words do, however, echo the words Speaker Pelosi used when she took the impeachment of Bush off the table.

Regarding speculation about the possible motives of leaders of Congress to suppress information of their going along with the nefarious deeds of the Bush administration, I’m skeptical of anything sinister. The public already knows of their capitulations and weak opposition to executive overreach. They’ve got nothing to hide in that regard.

It’s incorrect to assert that President Obama has reserved the right to extraordinary rendition. He retained the right to rendition, not to extraordinary rendition. There’s a distinction there that you’ve overlooked.

Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with signing statements per se. Several other Presidents used them too. The problem was the Bush overused them and essentially used them as a de facto line item veto.

The demons are in the details, but so are the angels.

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By Ibett, April 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

McCain is a flip-flopper! He and three of his bff’s,sent a letter to Obama yesterday stating there should be no prosections regarding torture.  How quickly we forget!

The American People Must Demand Trickle-Down Prsecutions


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By AFriend, April 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

Mike Caetano,

Interesting. McCain’s words against prosecution, and the need to look forward, are exactly like those of President OBama and Speaker Pelosi.

I have to wonder aloud whether that has anything to do with the leaders of Congress taking part in the decisions to use certain interrogation techniques and upholding the re-authorized Patriot Act and domestic eavesdropping.

One has to at least wonder if President Obama wishes not to draw more attention to the fact that he too has reserved the right to use “extraordinary rendition” and signing statements.

You know, all the things the mean and evil “neo-cons” did.

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By logicalliberal, April 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This might be a good time to dig up that video of former POW McCain telling the POW/MIA families to get bent.  Didn’t he shove an old lady in a wheelchair too?  Great idea…

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By Mike Caetano, April 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain has already come out against prosecutions for torture. The suggestion of putting him in charge of the investigation is DOA. For details and links, check out “McCain, Lieberman, Graham come out against prosecutions”

They make the same old excuses. Government lawyers should not be ‘chilled’ in the advice they provide; we must look forwards, not towards recriminations; we must “fix our gaze” on the future, blah, blah, blah.

McCain’s a great choice if you’re looking for a whitewash.

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By NYCartist, April 23, 2009 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

We had a “torture czar”, Cheney.  McCain has already stated he’s opposed to looking at the Bush Administration.  What we need is JUSTICE and LAW enforced.

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By mike turner, April 23, 2009 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

The depraved “creepy” side of those whose “morality” blows with the corporate/cable talkings points is getting creepier & depravier each day.

This morning CNN/MSNBC/Politico, Chuck Todd informed millions of veterans who follow the rule of honor & flatly reject the beastial/ repugnant use of torture by both the “evil” empires & phony media war shirkers like Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice (yes, women were at Airborne Jump school).....  well the corporate media says WE are LEFTISTS.

This tells EVERYONE how desperate the corporations who sold WMDs, deregulation,  yellow cake, Tillman coverup, & all the rest….are at the moment.

Imagine…WE who stand for the honor the school children are taught about the USA in the history books…..are LEFTISTS.

Orwell would blush…. does McCain know he’s a Leftist?

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By samosamo, April 23, 2009 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

By William W. Wexler, April 23 at 7:49 am
“”” McCain is certifiable, the judgment bone in his head has fossilized from disuse.  He has made so many bad decisions in the last 8 years…”“”
Why go back just 8 years? Wasn’t his part in the aircraft carrier disaster in the viet nam war sign enough? He maybe wasn’t responsible but the witnesses that said he went below to watch it and then took ‘leave’ of some sorts to go gambling and drinking for whatever reason other than he knew his admiral daddy would bail him out and protect this faux national treasure. Both him and w are disgraces to the is country in their pretend stints in the military. Then to go into politics for the ‘good’ of america is just icing on the cake that proves the insanity of this country and those that pretend to serve and protect it versus those that really sacrifice to serve and protect.

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By AFriend, April 23, 2009 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

William W. Wexler,

You’re right, of course. Why in the world would you wish to hold a discussion with anyone who thinks differently?

Good luck to you.

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By Folktruther, April 23, 2009 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Who says McCain was tortured, besides McCain, a acknowledged liar, and the American mass media which is completely corrupt.  In Korea I read an account of US prisoners who were so well treated by the N Koreans (partly no doubt for public relations purposes) that they were isolated by the US army when released so they wouldn’t subvert the official story.

All power is oppressive and corrupt, but my decades long imppression is that the Vietnamese, Koreans and Chinese communists were LESS oppressive and corrupt than the American power system.  But since it is unpatriotic to say so, indeed un-American, the American people are unfamiliar with the actual evidence, which contervenes the enormous indoctriantion of the mainstream American truth.

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By William W. Wexler, April 23, 2009 at 8:24 am Link to this comment


You are confused.  The actual confusion you exhibit is based on the fallacy that there are times when the rule of law is subordinate to the situation.  You use fallacious non-sequitur examples to support your arguments.

For example, you claim that Somali pirates have never harmed an American seaman (total BS) and therefore when they were shot, they were innocent but it was the right thing to do.

In example 2, you say that the CIA tortured 28 persons “from an organization that killed thousands of American civilians”.  On what planet did that happen?

Who are you?  Dick Cheney?

You also confuse yourself as someone with whom I want to discuss this topic.  Instead, I’m going to be dismissive of you not because I’m childish, not because I enjoy insulting people, not because it’s easy (although in your case it seems to be), not because of any other reason than you have no clue what this issue is about and since you seem to think there is “context” to torture I have nothing to discuss with you.

However, that doesn’t mean that I will not call BS on your posts.  I consider that to be constructive.


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By AFriend, April 23, 2009 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

William W. Wexler,

The rule of law, the US Constitution, and values are very important to me. It seems we simply disagree on how to achieve the same goals.

Of course I have no idea how you would achieve those same goals as you offered nothing but insult. Insults are the easiest, and the most childish, form of communicating.

Perhaps you could be more constructive and not add to the divisiveness that already permeates the globe.

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By Hulk2008, April 23, 2009 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

I must repeat:
  If the neo-cons believe the torture methods are SO darned effective, why did they stop the waterboarding sessions at 183 for Khalid ?  Why not do 184 or 1,000 -  why not just do it hourly so that even more info came out? 
  How did the CIA know that they had all they needed at session 183 ?  I live in the midwest - but I can smell something fishy from here. 
  Joe Scarborough says that Khalid was not only lucid but “at the top of his game” in court sessions - AFTER the 183 waterboardings.  Others say he was brain dead - if he was still SO lucid, why did they stop the “enhanced methods”?

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By William W. Wexler, April 23, 2009 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

So AFriend, whose “friend” are you, anyway?

Not a friend of humanity, the rule of law, the US Constitution, and any set of values that resonates with me.

The ChiComs, perhaps?

Just askin’.


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By AFriend, April 23, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

If the Bush Administration are actual war criminals then so too was Lincoln, Grant, Truman and Roosevelt.

If lawyers advising the U.S. President can be put on trial for legal advise then there will be no more unencumbered advise given to the president. The president will no longer be sure that the advise given is in the best interest of the nation. He or she will always have to weigh whether or not those giving the advise are looking out only for themselves.

This is a slippery slope that most have not thought through.

Hatred of all things “Bush” is not the answer. It’s shallow thinking and potentially dangerous.

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By AFriend, April 23, 2009 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

Context is everything.

—Days ago, three Somali pirates held an American captive for ransom and threatened his life. The U.S. President ordered them shot through their respective heads. Small hole going in, big one coming out. Even though Somali pirates have never harmed an American seaman, it was the right decision.

—Years ago, the CIA used several enhanced interrogation techniques on 28 captives from an organization that killed thousands of American civilians. When in CIA custody, the al-Qaida detainee would face an interrogator.

Everyone interested in this subject needs to read the recently released Justice Dept. documents.

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By dfw_jr, April 23, 2009 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Obama, and his executive department, will probably distance themselves from the investigation. Besides its not the presidents Constitutional job. That is the Justice department’s and Congress’ job. We seem to be getting use to the idea that the US president is America’s elected king. Eight years of King George the W (a.k.a The Decider) who had consistently ignored the Constitution.

Let the investigations commence it should thoroughly discredit the Republicans, especially the extreme neo-con and religious right wings of the party.

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By William W. Wexler, April 23, 2009 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

No offense, but this notion of “bipartisan” approaches to sticky legal and political problems is absurd.  To believe that it is necessary, then we must believe that every politician and figure in Washington is incapable of objectivity therefore we must force them to be so by putting balanced numbers of Rs and Ds together whenever a decision is being made.

For that to be valid then all Rs must be equal to each other and all Ds must be so, too.  Think about how stupid that is.  You have to pair an R with a D so it’s “fair and balanced”?  It is such an ignorant idea that it’s something I would expect from the Peanut Gallery at AOL rather than being discussed here.  It assumes that every issue has a political component that must be balanced in order to come out OK.  Have you ever heard of right and wrong?  That’s how things ought to be decided, not by D and R.

Now to specifics.  The suggestion has been made that McCain ought to be chosen to head something important under the qualification that he has been tortured and he’s got an R by his name.  Sorry, but you must not have been paying attention to McCain for the last 8 years.  McCain is certifiable, the judgment bone in his head has fossilized from disuse.  He has made so many bad decisions in the last 8 years that he ought to have a B by his name, not an R.  He is a total political animal who will say or do anything for his career first and everybody else go fish.

Putting an insane man in charge of monitoring torture as a partisan gesture is not the answer.  In fact, it’s stupid.  If such a position needs to be created, and that’s even doubtful, then it needs to be someone who is well-versed in Constitutional and international law who is fearlessly willing to go anywhere the facts lead them. 

Like Patrick Fitzgerald, perhaps.


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By Purple Girl, April 23, 2009 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

Ya mean the Singer of ‘Bomb bomb bomb Iran’ - he may not support Torture- it takes too long, killing them one by one.
In fact he once again became mealy mouthed about the whole topic once again. McCain has no real stance on this issue, unless the leadership tells him what it is. Don’t you remember his enthusaism about having cheney in his Cabinet? Cheney!
McCain has proven his ambition out weighs his morals. This man will dive on to his own sword to Win an election.He has not moral fortitude, nor any strong convictions. need it remind you his own campaign admitted He ‘Doesn’t speak for the Campaign’..What kind of leader hands the reins over to Staff? Either he had no idea what he stood fro becasue the yhad not enlightened him- or he had forgotten.he and his lil’ lap dog Lindsay Gramm are doing the two step away from any ‘convictions’ they claimed during the Campaign.McCain has become as much a Whore to the Neocon Overlords as Lindsay.
Let’s be honest there are some Holes in Johnny boys ‘Glory Story’to begin with. He was offered early release because of who his dad was…so ya think they ignored that fact when it came to the supposed torture? When they had free access to so many ‘nobodies’ who would create such an international fuss? and as for his refusal to take the early release- That wasn’t Valor- that was standard operating procedure for all soldiers captured.
McCain didn’t want to ‘flaunt’ his experience, then proceeded to do just that. Which led to the interesting inconsistency regarding Which NFL team he named as his unit Buddies. Hard to keep a story straight when you are lying..
Seems the only ‘torture’ he experienced was the delay in medical attention after he crashed- sounds like what our Returning wounded have faced here too..should we begin calling the lack of proper medical care provided to our wounded vets be called Torture too? I mean those Suffering from Post traumatic Stress have been ignored too- doesn’t that qualify as Psychological torture, at the hands of their own country?
Whether he was actually a ‘SongBird’ or not is up to debate- but the cause of his injuries are not.
Frankly that Silver spooned military brat probabaly considered it torture that there was no chocolate mint under his pillow every night.Damn lazy ‘Hotel’ staff!

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By Steve E, April 23, 2009 at 3:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your request for consideration is a joke right? I hope so.

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By KenDen, April 22, 2009 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

I like the fact that we are looking into the torture issue, but with the Bush administration there was much more.  How about investigating how they lied us into a disastrous war.  Maybe that will come, but it sure seems like we could be going through these investigations well into Obama’s second term, assuming he’s president that long.

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By diamond, April 22, 2009 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

samosamo you are 200% right. John McCain was flying over Vietnam dropping bombs, or napalm for all I know, when he crashed his plane. He should not have been tortured, it was wrong, but he was an enemy soldier and had killed Vietnamese in a war noted for its viciousness even by the general standards of other wars. The people tortured by the CIA and other enthusiastic amateurs were civilians kidnapped off the streets of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dilawar, for example, who was murdered (basically beaten and tortured to death at Bagram Air Base) was a taxi driver sold to the Americans for around $10,000. Binyam Mohammed was also kidnapped and imprisoned and tortured without having done anything to anyone. Maher Arar was an IT consultant running his own company in Canada. He was a Canadian citizen, a married man with children. He was a civilian and he was innocent of any crime whatsoever. His only mistake was to land at New York Airport on his way home from Tunisia from where he was the subject of rendition by the United States to Jordan and then Syria. His innocence and his Canadian citizenship and his non-combatant status didn’t protect him from being sent to Syria, betrayed by the Canadian government, and beaten and tortured for ten months to make him confess to links with al Qaeda and having been in Afghanistan -where he had never been in his life. To assume that John McCain would make a good anti-torture czar because he was tortured is a mistake. A man who says the US should stay in Iraq for a hundred years if that’s what it takes to ‘win’ and who pushed the protesting parent of someone missing in action in Vietnam aside so violently that they nearly fell out of their wheelchair on to the floor doesn’t seem to me to make him the perfect candidate for such a task.

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By samosamo, April 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

That would be creating very fertile ground for orwellian doublespeak direct from a sublevel of the ‘ministry of truth’.

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