McCain’s Tarnished Legacy

VOX | OPINION – Sen. John McCain, who died of brain cancer on Saturday at the age of 81, was perhaps the strongest moral voice against torture in all of American politics — yet it was not an untainted voice.

[Opinions published on Headline Health are not necessarily our own; rather, we wish to bring to our readers’ attention topics that are under debate. – Editor]

His willingness to compromise his principles for the sake of politics at the height of the post-9/11 torture debate substantially weakened its power and ultimately tarnished his moral legacy.

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McCain was brutally tortured by the North Vietnamese during the five and a half years he spent in captivity as a prisoner of war, from 1967 to 1973.

The experience not only shaped his own personal views on both the immorality and the ineffectiveness of torture but also endowed him with a level of credibility and moral authority on the subject that few others could match.

When it came to light that in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, George W. Bush’s administration had authorized the use of torture on detainees, McCain, then a powerful Republican senator, took a stand that few others in his party would.

He forcefully spoke out against the use of waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” when the Bush administration and other Republicans tried to argue they weren’t torture.

“It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture,” he said of waterboarding.

But when it came time to fight for actual legislation to force the Bush administration’s hand and ban the use of these methods once and for all, McCain was far less courageous.

Rather than stick to his principles, he sold them out for politics — and effectively allowed the Bush administration to continue torturing people, and to get away with it scot-free.

Here’s the story of how McCain, one of the most vocal opponents of torture, capitulated for political gain right when his voice was needed the most — and why his later attempts to atone for his sins was too little, too late … Read the full story at VOX. 

Is waterboarding torture? Did John McCain “effectively allow the Bush administration to continue torturing people”? Post your opinion in the Comments area below. 

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