I don’t think the Cheney position on the McCain amendment, seeking a CIA carve-out, is sustainable, but the great and wise Charles Krauthammer defended it last night on “Special Report” (transcript might be rough):
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, it’s a debate in which it
looks like all the good guys are against torture and all the bad guys are in
There are distinctions you have to make here. If you capture a regular
soldier, of course you have to treat him humanely, and we do. The second
distinction, if you capture a terrorist, he’s entitled to no protections because
he goes after innocent civilians and yet we treat him humanely because we are
But, there’s a third case. You capture a terrorist who knows stuff, he not
only kills innocents, he knows where the next killing is going to happen. The
ethics on that one case is the guy who knows there’s a nuke in New York, we kill
a million new people will go off in an hour.
Who’s going to say that you shouldn’t hang him by his thumbs if you think it
will get you information and save a million people? A moral idiot would say that
you cannot do that. That an extreme example. And the Khalid Shaik Mohammed
example you brought is the real-life example.
He helped to kill 2,700 people on 9/11. Many of them in a tortured death. And
he knows about other stuff happening in the future and we have him, presumably,
as we hear in the reports in what are called the black prisons. Squirreled away,
hidden away, incommunicado and people are gnashing their teeth and rending their
clothing in Washington over that. I haven’t gnashed a single tooth over that.
HUME: Nor rend a single garment?
KRAUTHAMMER: Not a single one. He ought to be kept isolated, disoriented,
sleepless if necessary, as a way to get information. If he hasn’t, the McCain
amendment is a blanket amendment which makes no exceptions.
I haven’t spoken to Cheney or anyone in his office, but I assume that the
reason you want an exception is for a high-level terrorist who knows stuff and
you have CIA people who know how to interrogate and are going to do unpleasant
stuff and would get high-level authority to do it.