Two parts grandstanding to one part suicide

Hugh Hewitt eloquently expresses the indignation (start here and scroll down) we cannot help but feel at the sight of Senate Republicans rushing to join their Democratic colleagues displaying their profiles in cowardice. To the Democrats’ cowardice the Republicans have added the stench of panic.

Andrew McCarthy’s NRO column on John McCain’s contribution to the Republican surrender in the Senate today is definitive: “Say ‘no’ to the McCain amendment.” Most appropriate to the events of the day is McCarthy’s conclusion:

We should be asking this question of each and every member of Congress who claims to support the McCain Amendment: If we had credible information regarding an ongoing al Qaeda plot to detonate a nuclear weapon in the continental United States, and we had just taken into custody an al Qaeda militant who was in a position to know where and when the attack was to occur but who was refusing to cooperate, are you saying we would need to let thousands of Americans die rather than harm a hair on the terrorist’s head in an effort to extract the information that might save them?

If the answer to that question is “no,” you have no business voting for the McCain Amendment. If the answer is “yes,” you have no business serving in a government whose first obligation is the security of the governed.

JOHN adds: What the Senators are doing is moral preening, which suggests that there is a third answer to McCarthy’s question; indeed, the answer I suspect most Senators who voted for the McCain amendment would give, if they were being honest rather than preening. That answer is: I want to go on record taking the high-minded position against torture, but in the event that it actually becomes necessary, I expect you–policeman, FBI agent, whoever–to disregard the law and do what you have to do.

One of the things I have been struck by in recent years is the fact that the Defense Department, the CIA, and law enforcement agencies really do follow the laws Congress enacts and the regulations adopted thereunder, no matter how dumb they are. Thus, for example, the Defense Department didn’t let the Able Danger analysts tell the FBI about the domestic terrorist cells they had uncovered because…it was illegal. I think that many Senators and Congressmen don’t really expect law enforcement agencies and the military to obey all of the laws they enact, and, more important, don’t want them to.


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