Is John McCain about to do for interrogations what he did for political speech? No senator or group of senators can possibly have the information, knowledge or strategic perspective of a president and his advisors on security issues facing the nation especially during war, which is why the framers empowered the president as commander-in-chief. But now McCain, having thoroughly screwed up the financing of federal elections, is on to his next subject — interrogating detainees.
I have no problem with Congress’s constitutional oversight authority, but legislatively spelling out the circumstances and conditions of interrogations, which McCain and others are now seeking to do, is a completely different matter. And past Congress’s have understood this. Issues arise during war that do not lend themselves to broad legislative mandates. Frank Church sought to micro-manage the CIA, and I would argue it helped lead to 9/11. We don’t need or want a committee of 100 — along with federal courts now — dictating war functions.
We can debate this in more detail elsewhere (including separation of powers issues), but I want to raise the issue here, in truncated form, because it’s now front and center.