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Re: The McCain Amendment & Political Accountability


Ramesh, personally, I’m all in favor of congressional buy-in. If there hadn’t been a congressional authorization for the Iraq war, Democrats would have been able to run farther away from the war than they have already. Likewise, I think the administration should have gotten some sort of congressional sign-off on Gitmo and military tribunals during the Afghan war–it would have passed easily and would have insulated it from some cheap-shots. On the McCain amendment, the chief problem with it I think is a lack of clarity (this entire debate has suffered from a lack of clarity, since Bush critics like to pretend that if you don’t believe members of al Qaeda deserve Geneva protection, you want to let Charles Graner run wild). If McCain and Co. mean to outlaw all stress techniques–and it seems they do–they should come right out explicitly and say it. Then, after the next attack, if there are people in our custody overseas who should have been squeezed, but weren’t, we will all know where to look when the finger-pointing starts. If they don’t want to outlaw all stress techniques (the wiser position in my view), then please write into the amendment which techniques are permissible and which are un-American. Then everyone will have very bright lines to follow and we will have lots of congressional buy-in.


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