As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nice Hedge You've Got There

After a weekend of total radio silence on the revelations that the American President approved and designated torture tactics on detainees, a reporter finally got up the gumption to ask John McCain a kind of oblique question about it at the Associated Press annual meeting, without referring to the President. And in his answer, McCain got all mixed up again.

Reporter: Why doesn't the same principle apply to detainee enemy combatants, don't we stand for something better...

McCain: Yes, and I’ve made it very clear, I’ve made it very clear in my statements and in my support of the Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions, etc., that there may be some additional techniques to be used, but none of those would violate the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act…And we cannot ever, in my view, torture any American, that includes waterboarding.

The "American" slip-up may have been a slip-up. But the weasel language of "there may be some additional techniques to be used," there, my friends, lies the rub. Considering that McCain already voted against banning the CIA from using waterboarding, which he very specifically describes as torture, then that must be one of those additional techniques. And I'm guessing they wouldn't violate those international agreements and American laws because... the President says so.

McCain is essentially setting out exactly the same position as the President has - forcefully stating that we do not torture in public, while authorizing and directing torture techniques in private, and finding lackeys to write legal opinions indemnifying the conduct. The consequences of those techniques has been nothing short of murder, dozens of homicides of prisoners while in US custody. Let's pick a couple at random:

Detainee was found unresponsive restrained in his cell. Death was due to blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease.Contusions and abrasions on forehead, nose, head, behind ear, neck, abdomen, buttock, elbow, thigh, knee, foot, toe, hemorrhage on rib area and leg. Detainee died of blunt force injuries to lower extremities, complicating underlying coronary artery disease. The blunt force injuries to the legs resulted in extensive muscle damage, muscle necrosis and rhabomyolysis. Electrolyte disturbances primarily hyperkalemia (elevated blood potassium level) and metabolic acidosis can occur within hours of muscle damage. Massive sodium and water shifts occur, resulting in hypovolemic shock and casodilatation and later, acute renal failure. The decedent's underlying coronary artery disease would compromise his ability to tolerate the electrolyte and fluid abnormalities, and his underlying malnutrition and likely dehydration would further exacerbate the effects of the muscle damage. The manner of death is homicide [...]

Cause of death: Closed head injury with a cortical brain contusion and subdural hematoma. Manner of Death: Homicide. Iraqi male civilian detainee died in US custody 12 hours after a reported escape attempt. Physical force was required to subdue the detainee, and during the restraining process, his forehead hit the ground. Closed head injury: subarachnoid hemorrhage over brain, cortical brain contusion, right subdural hematoma. Additional injuries: fractured rib, multiple contusions and abrasions to head, torso and extremities. Abrasions on wrists and ankles consistent with restraint. Hemorrhage of right muscle of neck. No evidence of natural disease. DOD 003329 refers to this case as "1 closed head injury - died 12 hours after escape attempt."

This is, after all, typical McCain. He says that US troops require significant educational benefits but won't sign on to support a 21st-century GI Bill. He attacks Democratic groups that are "funded by George Soros" and has taken hundreds of thousands from Soros himself. He promises "straight talk" and gets kicked off the Project Vote Smart board for refusing to answer the questions in their "Political Courage Test." He calls himself a public financing champion and attacks Barack Obama for possibly opting out of the Presidential public financing system, while he illegally spends money for the primary despite not being taken out of the public financing system by the FEC. And on and on.

The press loves McCain (for the honor of speaking to him, they handed him the gift of coffee and donuts today) so this massive hedge on torture, combined with recent votes allowing the CIA to continue to engage in it, will probably go unnoticed. The elephant in the room, George Bush's admission of guilt in violating domestic and international laws regarding toture, has gone almost completely unnoticed, after all.

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