Elisa Massimino, in an article for Roll Call, writes that the Senate’s passage of the McCain-Feinstein amendment with a landslide bipartisan 78-21 vote is more than a policy victory. On this key issue, our country’s leaders placed American ideals above partisan bickering.
To torture or not is not just a matter of policy, but a matter or moral leadership. Seventy-eight of our leaders from left, right, and center proved their ability to lead—and cooperate—on the issues that speak to the heart of American ideals.
Ronald Reagan championed the U.N. Convention against Torture, but after 9/11 the United States turned to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” now recognized as torture, out of fear. Torture defenders claimed it was necessary for our security—something seasoned interrogators, intelligence professionals, and military leaders have long refuted.
Recovering from those missteps and emerging from the dark side has been a long and difficult process. It started in 2005 when McCain led the Senate to pass the Detainee Treatment Act after the abuses at Abu Ghraib were revealed. Obama’s 2009 executive order was the next step. The 2014 release of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA torture program was the next.
The McCain-Feinstein amendment represents another important step in this journey: one where the clear majority of our leaders locked the door that leads backwards.