February 14, 2008

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Countdown's Keith Olbermann and guest Rachel Maddow look at the derailment of the straight talkin' Maverick John McCain into the craven torture-endorsing flip-flopper that appears to have sold his integrity for the endorsement of the Republican leadership.

MADDOW: The White House admits, as of this month, to authorizing waterboarding. And they say that they authorized it because the way they looked at the law, they’re allowed to do that. It’s legal. Yeah right, but that’s what the White House said. They said, ‘The way we interpreted the law, we thought it was legal and we’re happy that we did it, and it was very useful.’ So Congress has therefore passed something that says, ‘actually, clearly, plainly, obviously this is illegal, if you didn’t think it was illegal before, let us make it more obvious for you.’ And that’s what John McCain voted against. So, in context, and logically, it is a vote for waterboarding because the White House has used this legal explanation, this legal cutthroat explanation, in order to…in order to justify what they admit to having already done. [..]

This decision is so plainly a political decision. This is John McCain reversing himself, not only in terms of being for waterboarding now, but the grounds on which he is for waterboarding. I mean, he’s the guy who made the argument that the Army Field Manual was sufficient. The only thing we need to understand about this is that John McCain made a sudden and otherwise inexplicable change of heart since November. A change of heart that brings him in line with what appears to be the Republican strategy for the general election this year, which is to pick deliberately provocative, deliberately controversial fights on the issues that they want this election to be about. They want the election to be about war, and torture and Guantanamo. So they’re picking fights on those issues, even though they know a lot of Americans disagree with them on these issues. They’re picking fights on those issues so those will be the things we’re talking about around the election because they think that will help Republicans.

Given McCain's own signed "confession" after four days of continued torture during his own POW days, he knows only too well how false information and confessions can be coerced by torture. And yet, even though it happened to him, he's unwilling to take a stand against torturing detainees. And why? To fall in line with the Republican party strategy for framing the debate this election season. Yup, there's a maverick for you.

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