Conflict & Justice

The candidates on torture

It would be hard to find an issue on which McCain's reputation as a former prisoner of war matter more. His words on torture therefore carry great weight. When the abuses of the Abu Ghraib prison came to light, McCain demanded answers. Obama had not yet entered the Senate but since entering, he has opposed torture and anti-torture rhetoric has been an integral part of his stump speeches. There's a basic perception that McCain and Obama stand on the same side of this issue. This human rights activist says that's refreshing. But there are differences between the candidates. During key votes in torture in the Senate, Obama first followed McCain's lead in defying the Bush administration and voting in favor of the so-called McCain amendment. But Obama and McCain disagreed on the military commissions act of 2006 which was written to overhaul a much criticized trial system at Guantanamo Bay. McCain supported a law which went in opposition of that act. This ACLU analyst says McCain held out for a while but then signed off on a compromise with the White House. McCain also voted against an amendment this February that would've applied the newer, stricter interrogation rules to CIA operatives in addition to military personnel. The human rights activist from earlier said he didn't think the law was necessary. In contrast, Obama supported that amendment�but both candidates agree the Bush administrtaion's policies on torture have hurt the U.S.

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