McCain himself writes about the recent interrogation controversy:
"It often seems to me and many Americans that international public support for the United States is always strongest when we are the victims of terrorism and weakest when we forcefully defend ourselves from it. We must persevere confident in the necessity and justice of our cause even though we can expect that much of the world, even our allies, will often find fault with us as we seek to defeat the enemies who threaten us and them.
History will vindicate us, even though many of us will no longer be around to read it. And when history records our victory may it also celebrate the fact that we fought an enemy who believed our values made us weak and discovered in the end that our faithfulness to our values was as important to their defeat as was the strength and courage of our armed forces.
Fighting for our security alone makes this fight just. Fighting for the security of other nations as well makes it generous. Fighting for the ascendancy in the world of our values makes it noble. That is the burden and the honor history has offered us. So let us take care, just as we take care to minimize civilian casualties while our enemies deliberately kill the innocent, not to provide our critics with an excuse to doubt how seriously we take our obligations to abide by our values even in times of war, no matter how cruel, difficult or unusual that war."
Who can disagree with that?
This is what McCain says Bush worries about:
"Under U.S. law, a grave breach of Article Three can be prosecuted as a war crime. The Bush administration worries that Geneva’s prohibition of cruel and degrading treatment is ill defined and could be misapplied by a judge with the result that an American interrogator who acted in accord with U.S. law might be prosecuted unfairly. The administration would prefer that Congress pass legislation defining cruel and degrading treatment prohibited in Article Three as it was defined in legislation I sponsored and Congress passed last year as treatment prohibited by the 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution."
McCain says that seem fair but...
"Such an impression would complicate our efforts to win the ideological war that will be a critical element in our victory over Islamic extremists. It could cause other nations to refuse to extradite terrorists they’ve arrested to the United States for interrogation and prosecution. It would provide a handy excuse for regimes with less concern for human rights to re-interpret the conventions according to their standards and possibly put Americans at greater risk in future conflicts."
"Sens. John Warner, Lindsey Graham and I have proposed a way to bring clarity in the law so that the CIA can continue to interrogate high value al-Qaida detainees, and subsequently prosecute them to the fullest extent without being exposed unfairly to criminal and civil liability. Rather than redefine the Geneva Conventions, we would spell out in U.S. law and in clear terms what constitutes a “grave breach” of Article Three so that no judge could decide, for instance, that a female interrogating a Muslim male is a war crime. Only truly grave offenses would rise to that level, and as long as the program stayed within the bounds of the legislation passed last year, no American could be sued or prosecuted for doing his or her duty.
This, we believe, meets both our and the President’s desire for actionable intelligence from captured terrorists and upholds for the world standards of basic human decency that the United States, more than any other country, has sacrificed so much to defend."
You have to admit. He makes his point.
Update: Richard Cohen agrees.