Editorial Column: A Brief History of McCain and Torture

After Downing Street

September 12, 2008 – 1788 United states ratifies Constitution, ordaining that all treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land

1791 United States ratifies the Bill of Rights, banning cruel and unusual punishment.

1948 United States ratifies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights banning torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

1949 United States ratifies Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, banning violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, as well as outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

1968 John McCain is tortured.

1992 United States ratifies the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), banning torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

1994 United States ratifies the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), requiring that the United States work to prevent all forms of torture.

2002 On February 7, President George W. Bush signs a directive purporting to authorize torture.

2005 John McCain champions the McCain Detainee Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for 2005, which passes the Congress and is signed into law by Bush, adding one more redundant ban on torture to existing U.S. law, despite Vice President Cheney having lobbied hard against it. But McCain allows a major loophole for the CIA and then keeps quiet when Bush throws out the whole thing with a “signing statement.” Bush and Cheney’s administration continues to torture.

2006 Time Magazine recognizes McCain’s efforts to supposedly ban torture in naming him one of America’s 10 Best Senators. Time makes no mention of the fact that torture had always been illegal, the fact that Bush had thrown out the new law with a “signing statement,” or the fact that the United States was continuing to torture people on a large scale.

2006 McCain votes in favor of the Military Commissions Act which supposedly leaves torture decisions up to the president.

2008 In February, McCain votes against a bill that would supposedly ban torture, and then applauds Bush for vetoing the bill.

2008 McCain runs for president, and almost nobody mentions his positions on torture, not even his fiercest critics. It is as if the most repulsive moral collapse in U.S. political history has never happened. And yet McCain and his campaign rarely open their mouths without taking us back to 1968 when McCain was tortured. McCain critics even make lists and videos of his “flip-flops” and never mention the most frightening reversal of position imaginable. Are they scared to do so? Are they not really serious about keeping this tortured torturer out of the White House?

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