Jane Mayer Boosts John McCain as Torture Opponent

By David Swanson

On Monday morning at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, Jane Mayer, New Yorker reporter and author of “The Dark Side,” lavishly praised John McCain for passing a legislative ban on torture. She did so in a town-hall Q and A full of lots of very useful insights. And much later in the discussion she did acknowledge that McCain opposes habeas corpus and supports the use of certain “interrogation techniques” by the CIA.

But, of course, McCain allowed that mammoth loophole for the CIA in 2005 prior to passage of his amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for which Mayer praised him. In other words, McCain folded before the law passed. And he did so again right after it passed. He kept quiet when Bush threw out the whole thing with a “signing statement.” Even with the CIA loophole, Bush simply tossed the new law into the trash after signing it. And Jane Mayer is joining McCain in keeping quiet about that inconvenient fact, which just doesn’t fit the accepted narrative.

In 2006, Time Magazine recognized McCain’s efforts to supposedly ban torture in naming him one of “America’s 10 Best Senators”. Time made no mention of the fact that torture had always been illegal, the fact that Bush had thrown out the new law with a “signing statement,” or the fact that the United States was continuing to torture people on a large scale.

Also in 2006, McCain voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act which supposedly gave the president the power to decide whether to torture or not. I say “supposedly” because torture always was and still is illegal under the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In February of 2008, McCain voted against a bill that would supposedly have banned torture, and then applauded Bush for vetoing the bill.

I don’t mean to pick on Jane Mayer. She was clearly just grasping for something she could use to make herself feel balanced and nonpartisan. But when there’s nothing to praise a Republican for, the answer should not be to make something up. It’s almost always possible to make yourself feel professional by blaming a Democrat for complicity. And when it isn’t, well then I’m for sacrificing balance and sticking with truth.