The Corner

McCain

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.

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