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John McCain Sells His Soul to the Base

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I used to hope that John McCain would win the Republican presidential nomination this year, as he is likely to do. Even though McCain wants to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years, at least he actively opposed torture. So in the horrific event that a Democrat does not win the White House this year, at least we might see an end to the systematic (and illegal) use of torture in our name. Not any more. Now the Republican choices are Mike Huckabee, who doesn't believe in science, and front-runner John McCain, a torture survivor himself, who incomprehensibly has now voted for torture. On February 13, McCain voted against a bill that would ban the CIA or other American agents from using waterboarding or any other interrogation technique that is not authorized by the Army Field Manual. Fortunately, the bill passed anyway. (Of course, George W. Bush is promising a veto, because he wants to keep torturing people.) In the process, McCain has again revealed himself to be a sell-out to the cold, cruel Republican base. What happened to the John McCain who historically worked in a bipartisan way to legislate against torture and other forms of cruel and degrading treatment of detainees? What happened to the John McCain who demonstrated that torture doesn't work, by recalling how, when asked under torture in Vietnam to provide his captors with the names of the members of his flight squadron, instead rattled off the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, "knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse"? What happened to the John McCain who was so appalled by the photos from Abu Ghraib that he went on the CBS "Early Show" and called for Abu Ghraib to be razed to the ground because it is a symbol of torture and mistreatment "both from the Saddam Hussein regime and this one"? What happened to the John McCain who stood up in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee and grilled Donald Rumsfeld in an effort to get some accountability for the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib? That John McCain is gone, and has apparently been replaced by a good, compliant Republican. Endless war. Endless torture. God bless America. I still hear from people who admire McCain because they believe him to be a moderate Republican. I hope those people will wake up before November. After all, there is nothing moderate about torture. ###

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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