The likelihood that the misbegotten McCain Amendment will become law rose considerably yesterday when the House voted to instruct its conference negotiators to accept it verbatim, according to a WaPo report today.
The problem with the so-called “anti-torture” amendment is that it is no such thing. As I’ve written before, US law already makes torture a felony and all the McCain amendment does is to make the law incomprehensible.
Once again, as in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, we see John McCain adamantly supporting legislation that is constitutionally questionable. Yes, the Supremes upheld the McCain-Feingold law, but their decision didn’t settle the First Amendment questions for me, not by a long shot. In this case, the impact will be far worse, endangering all our interrogators on the front lines.
McCain wants to outlaw “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of detainees. But no one knows what those terms mean. How much intelligence will we fail to gain because the people on the line fear being second-guessed by a prosecutor years down the line?
While this is going on, the Army is trying to revise its manual on interrogation techniques to include a classified annex that contains methods of interrogation that can be used in extraordinary circumstances. McCain is bridling at this, and negotiations may break down over this point. Let’s hope they do, because the president isn’t likely to veto the bill. If ever a bill deserved a veto, any one containing the McCain amendment does.