Thursday, February 14, 2008

Setting The Record Straight

This is the text of HR 2082.

I am sure, most of you have better things to do than comb the entire resolution wording. Watching paint dry would certainly be more fun.

But there is one section that is pertinent to this post:

(Sec. 327) Prohibits any individual under the custody or control of an IC element, regardless of nationality or physical location, from being subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.

Here is the entire roll call vote, and here are the votes of the remaining candidates in the United States Presidential race, on this very resolution:

1. Clinton Not Voting

2. McCain Yea Nay

3. Obama Not Voting

It's common for Presidential candidates to skip votes, during a presidential campaign. This is especially true when the votes are minuscule. But when the vote is important enough and is a politically defining vote that will give voters some information (on where a candidate stands on a particular issue), it's usually a good thing to show up.

It's easily noted, Obama and Clinton didn't show up. McCain did.

If you stand with the administration on this, you can say what you want about McCain's vote, as it certainly is your right. You can criticize him for not standing with the President on this one, but to full understand it, you must be cognizant of where McCain got his convictions on this one -- as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. (Being in a brutal POW camp has a way of shaping a man's thinking, differently from those of us, who haven't.)

Agree with him or not, he took a definitive stand.

Obama and Clinton didn't deem it necessary to vote, probably because they didn't want to go on record. By going on the record, they make known the fact that what they are saying in the campaign is what they truly believe. They didn't and who can really tell what they believe.

But, we can surmise.

We know that they state in their speeches, their belief that their should be no instances of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques not included in the
U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations (under any circumstances). But can we really know for sure? We know that they condemn the Administration for it, at every possible turn. But can we say definitively, this is how they feel (absent a written record that can be accessed)?

We must be ever mindful of the fact that politicians hate to be pinned down (which goes for both Democrats and Republicans). Those that are adeptly skilled in the art of BS, understand why that is. If they do not commit, they have the option of changing their minds down the road. They can say what they want to their base, in order to secure the nomination. But let's be honest about this, they know there are times that they may have to renege.

If you want a prime example of this, look at how the Democrats swore up and down, they would end the war (if only we would give them a chance). They knew they couldn't. They knew they didn't have the votes, but they made people think they would, before they cast their votes in the 2006 mid-terms. I mean, give them some credit here. They know that once elected, if there is a scenario that comes along that may require them to change their minds, they can use that option with less political fallout. To them, a lie during stump speech is not nearly as bad as voting for or against a proposal, then changing minds afterward.

So as we wind our way through the phenomenon that has come to be known as Obamamania, let's do some critical thinking along the way. Do we want to cast our votes based on what we know, or what we don't know? I know what my answer is (on this one).

I think this was a good move by McCain. He took one of the Democrat's mantras and made it public record.

They skated the vote, so they don't have to take heat for it down the road. But it gave McCain one more talking point, and steals one of the Dems' signature issues right from under their feet. (Target: Moderates) It also paints a visual image of a candidate that isn't afraid to define himself.

It may not seem like much right now, but this will come up again down the road in the campaign (regardless of who gets the nod from the Dems).


AC at Fore Left has some added perspective on this vote.

Yet, another addendum:

It seems that in my extreme fatigue, I failed to note that McCain voted "Nay" on the resolution. Credit to AC for pointing it out. As a result some of the post may not be applicable, but the underlying theme of the post is still intact, which is: Obama and Clinton didn't even vote, while McCain did.

(If I had an editor, I'd fire him/her)


Greg said...

Excellent perspective. Let me add some more for the idiots who have said that the US/Bush "tortures." And they are idiots. Or simply anti-American a-holes.

The extent of "torture" is waterboarding. That's it. And it was done at most THREE times. And it was done shortly after 9/11. And it was done to, at most, 3 high level al Qaeda operatives. And it lasted a grand total of less than one minute. That's what a bunch of idiots/haters have been gnashing their teeth about all these years. Does knowing the facts calm them down? No - it only revs them up.

Finally having the facts gives me the uncontrollable urge to yawn and never think about the issue again.

Side note: the waterboarding appears to have been successful in extracting information that saved lives, perhaps even preventing a 2nd 9/11. Since we all know "torture doesn't work," perhaps the debate should be whether waterboarding is even "torture." I mean, before I found out waterboarding could be effective, the debate about whether you would make OBL uncomfortable for a few seconds in order to save thousands of innocent lives was merely academic. Not anymore, apparently.

LASunsett said...

I am sure McCain has his reasons for not supporting this bill. It is likely to be vetoed, anyway. If he is elected, he may very well sign the bill, should it come up in another form. It's a good bargaining chip for something he'll really want.

But not to worry. There are other techniques used to gain information. They have been used and will continue to be until someone finds out about them and makes them an issue.

But, these techniques are certainly far less harsh than anything McCain suffered. And definitely more harsh than what Nick Berg went through.

A.C. McCloud said...

Yes, my added perspective is that I confused everything royally. It's not hard to do with all these procedural votes. I'm still confused because you show McCain voting yes on 2082, whereas I still show a nay.

As you say, Barack and Hillary didn't show up, which they are getting absolutely no heat for. Like the FISA bill they are ignoring, the left thinks the WoT is a bumper sticker and are willing to play around with our lives to prove it.

LASunsett said...


//I'm still confused because you show McCain voting yes on 2082, whereas I still show a nay.//

That's what i get for trying to post something, when I am dead tired, I guess. I will make the necessary corrections, which still screws up my post.

Anyway thanks, for pointing it out. I have no clue what I was looking at when I saw a "yea". The world may never know. ;)

Greg said...

But not to worry. There are other techniques used to gain information.

One of the things that struck me most in reading some books about the WOT - one, Lighting Out of Lebanon, that goes back to before we had a name for it - is how adept our law enforcement/intelligence agencies are at extracting information without physical coercion. Looming Tower has a fascinating passage about how a young agent cracked into al Qaeda for the first time following the Cole bombing when he was able to interrogate one of the actors. It's an enlightening and uplifting description. I again recommend the book to anyone who hasn't read it.

On the other hand, as the news stories about the few seconds top al Qaeda commanders were waterboarded indicates, the action was undertaken quite reluctantly and after all else had failed, and under the belief that new attacks that could kill thousands were imminent. If anything, the whole WOT in general - and the waterboarding episode in particular - are illustrations of how dearly this country holds onto its values - not how careless it has thrown them aside as many would have us believe. I continue to argue that America should be applauded in its efforts to combat a new kind of enemy in a new type of war, though of course mistakes have been made. If only more people could see through the B.S....