"It's a done deal," said the smiling Arizona Senator, John McCain, after he met with the President George W. Bush and got what he wanted: a ban on interrogation techniques he and other liberals believe are inhumane or degrading.
Earlier this year, President Bush and Senator McCain finally agreed that CIA interrogators will possess the same legal rights as enjoyed by members of the military who are accused of breaking interrogation guidelines. Those rights say accused people can defend themselves by claiming they were obeying an order and did not know the actions were unlawful. The government also would provide counsel for accused interrogators. Advocates for the ban believe that it's better for federal judges to decide on cases involving allegations of torture or abuse.
"We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," McCain said as he sat next to Bush in the Oval Office. "We have no grief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are. And I think this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror."
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President Bush originally threatened a veto if this ban was included in legislation sent to the president's desk, and Vice President Dick Cheney appealed to Republican senators to give an exemption to the CIA during a meeting. Senator McCain reportedly was angry at Cheney's position, and, coincidentally, the next day saw a big story about CIA run secret prisons and torture of detainees plastered across the frontpage of the Washington Post.
Most Senators' sentiments were overwhelmingly in favor of the ban, and McCain, a former Navy pilot who suffered imprisonment and torture for five and a half years at the Hanoi Hotel in Vietnam, picked up the issue as his own.
The Republican senator -- who enjoys the praise of the left and the news media -- and the Bush White House had been haggling for weeks over a CIA exemption, but it became increasingly clear that McCain, not the administration, had the votes in Congress.
"We have worked very closely with the senator and others to achieve that objective as well as to provide protections for those who are the front line of fighting the terrorists," Bush said.
McCain's amendment prohibited "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in US government custody, regardless of where they are held. It's been dubbed by its opponents as "The Terrorist's Bill of Rights." The amendment also calls for the procedures to be included in military field manuals and other government documents.
Intelligence and interrogation experts with whom this writer spoke, believe that promulgating policies and procedures to the world puts Americans at risk. Part of the interrogation process is the suspect's fear of the unknown. Even US police detectives acknowledge that a suspect who is unfamiliar with what interrogators can and cannot do is vulnerable to fear of the questioning process and more easily manipulated to provide key information.
"Fear of the unknown is a key component of the gentle art of interrogation and interview," says Detective Steve Rogers, who's conducted hundreds of interrogations.
"It doesn't matter whether you're interrogating a murder suspect or an international terrorist; if they're in fear of what you might do to them, you maintain the upper-hand."
Also, once terrorist organizations are able to obtain interrogation procedures and manuals from the US, they will have the capability to train terrorists on how to resist answering interrogators' questions.
"With all due respect to Senator John McCain, being a prisoner during a war doesn't make him an expert on interrogation. He may know about pain and torture, but what he's pushing is ill-conceived," say Sid Francis, a former New York City homicide detective, who's conducted interrogations for the NYPD and for the US Marines during his over 30-year career.
"What are these guys talking about when they say degrading? Hell, wearing handcuffs after being apprehended is degrading. Wearing orange overalls in Riker's Island [detention center] is degrading."
Senator McCain and other supporters of the interrogation ban provisions say they are needed to clarify current anti-torture laws considering abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and allegations of misconduct by US troops at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Of course, time after time allegations have been leveled against Gitmo military personnel, but there exists no evidence that detainees are mistreated there.
They also say that passing such legislation will help the United States repair an image they say has been tarnished by the prisoner abuse scandal. Apparently looking good to the adherents of political correctness is more important than getting information from a terrorist that could save American lives.
McCain believes these actions will strengthen his position as a viable Republican presidential candidate in 2008. He believes that getting good press from the likes of the New York Times and ABC News will carry him into the Oval Office. Afterall, McCain is the news media's favorite blowhard in the Republican Party. They love to call him a maverick, as if the definition of maverick is "kissing up to the news media."
Now that Senator McCain has achieved his victory on this issue, he will now set his sights on another troubling issue -- extended constitutional protections to terrorists. McCain believes, for instance, that detainees being held in Gitmo should have access to US federal courts and have all the protections and rights of US citizens.
McCain shares a strategy with several other Republican senators -- move the GOP to the so-called center. There is no center. The word centrist is a euphemism for siding with the left. And John McCain and his brand of Republicans are siding with the left on this and other issues.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.