A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
by Ronald B. Weinert, Col, USAFR (Retired)
Dear Senator McCain:
You have sullied the reputation of the country as well as your own by your participation in the charade you and your cohort senators (Graham and Warner) call a "compromise" on S3931. There was precious little compromise, it appears. The man in the White House now has the "legal" capability to name anyone he so desires as a terrorist threat, and to subject that individual to whatever "aggressive interrogation" he deems fit. You admitted in a statement on a Sunday news show that you did not know what "techniques" might be employed. That is truly amazing. You don't know? Do you even care?
You have enabled more power to be placed in the hands of a man we all know is incapable of exercising it with any modicum of intelligence. He and this government, thanks in large part to your machinations, now are able to again, "legally" suspend habeas corpus solely by the arbitrary decisions of George W. Bush, without advice, consent, or oversight. The courts now have lost nearly all power to review these cases, and the perpetrators of any "aggressive interrogations" that amount to torture are now immune from any meaningful prosecution.
Your role in this obscenity is that you weighed in with justly deserved moral authority derived from your ordeal in Hanoi at the hands of a people who did not bother to redefine the word torture; they just went ahead and did it. Your experience gave you credential, and when you offered an alleged compromise, it gave moral credence to the proposition, giving your peers in the senate some reason to think there may be merit in it. There were likely fence-sitters who were swayed by your stance. Never mind that the bill would probably have passed regardless; you sold your sacred honor for political gain. Have you no shame, Sir?
I wonder what our mutual comrade, your former POW mate, Robert Norlan Daughtrey might have thought about this? I knew him for 50 years, and loved him like a brother, but am not naive enough to think he would have agreed with me. I saw him just a few days before his death in July of 2005, and asked him what he thought of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other institutions under our control. He replied that he thought it shameful, but would not recognize what you and I know -- that the attitudes, if not the direct orders leading to the abuse came from the top. Norlan insisted it was just the actions of low ranking hillbilly reservists, and that our government would not condone such actions. I expect he would still be in denial. Norlan thought you were not conservative enough, but I doubt he would have applauded your dishonor in supporting this bill. I could be mistaken, but we now know that he was mistaken regarding where the real blame for this torture lies. Our government has been involved in torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other venues, and now will order and carry it out with impunity. I think you will agree that water boarding is a heinous torture. I do not recall hearing that the North Vietnamese used this method, but we have used it, and I suggest that Mr. Bush's reluctance to discuss techniques is ample evidence that he intends it to be used again in the future, along with other interrogatory "delights."
Now I read that the administration has "fine tuned" the bill to reintroduce some of the provisions that you fought to get removed. That you allegedly fought them is commendable, but you cannot be naive enough to have thought Bush would have honored any of them anyway. Had they been excised from the bill, he would have end-run them with another series of "signing statements." Nevertheless, your failure to stand foursquare against this bill brings shame on you and shame on our country. The very fact that the houses of congress even debated the merits of torture speak volumes about the depths of immorality into which this nation has descended. The passage of this bill has brought the congress of the country to a point of irrelevance, as are the courts. And you are complicit. Your recent pronouncements that this is a good bill only speak to your willingness to go to any length to serve your ambitions -- ambitions that apparently include running for president.
I am confident you will never hear of this letter, as your underlings will see to it that it goes into the circular file, but I feel better having written it. I could not stand by and see this country go into the dumper without making some effort to speak out, however feebly.
I would continue, but desist, lest I become personally insulting and resort to name-calling. That would be most unbecoming as well as ineffective, however well deserved.
Good luck in your run for the presidency, though I doubt your party will ever stand for it. You haven't lost my vote, Senator, as you never had it, and never will, but you have lost my respect, for what that is worth, and it isn't worth much, about as much as I now value your integrity and character. I have withheld the "Honorable" honorific customarily used in conjunction with a United States Senator because I can find no honor in your comportment in this matter.
Ronald B. Weinert
Col, USAFR (Retired)