A couple of weeks ago, I read an article about the amendment by Senator John McCain to the defense spending bill to ban the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of any detainee in United States custody. A slam-dunk I thought, and it passed the Senate by a vote of 90-to-9.

Then I hear that the administration is unhappy about this amendment. Well, I figured, there’ll be a great outcry about this. But then, nothing. Instead, this week,Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators to allow CIA exemptions to the proposed ban on terror suspects in U.S. custody. Is this the same United States that I’m living in? Oh, please let us torture people?

The next thing I hear is a report that the U.S. already has clandestine detention sites in Eastern Europe and Asia. According to the Washington Post, “The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.”

So is all this maneuvering to allow torture just a way of covering tracks that have already been made? Shouldn’t we give some credence to Senator McCain who, after all, was a prisoner of war? Does the remote possibility of an end justify any means? What are we becoming?

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