In a gesture that may not matter (since disputes over defense budgeting practices could derail or postpone ultimate passage of the underlying bill), or might matter a great deal (if Republicans win the White House), the Senate passed a McCain amendment to the defense authorization bill codifying the Obama administration’s government-wide ban on torture of prisoners.
All 46 Democrats voted for the amendment. Republicans split 32-21, with one likely opponent, Marco Rubio, absent. To their credit, presidential candidates Cruz and Paul voted to ban torture. To his discredit, Lindsey Graham split with his amigo McCain to keep torture alive, at least under a Graham (or probably Rubio) administration.
It would be immensely useful if political reporters would question the rest of the GOP presidential field on this subject. Last night Jeb Bush seemed to tell Sean Hannity we no longer need to torture prisoners, which could create some tense moments next time he’s in the company of Dick Cheney. We don’t know yet, however, if his relationship with torture fan Marc Thiessen–the co-author of his campaign book–has convinced Scott Walker that we need to match IS in savagery.
In the meantime, here’s a list of the twenty-one senators who stood tall for torture: Barrasso (R-WY), Blunt (R-MO), Coats (R-IN), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Cotton (R-AR), Crapo (R-ID), Ernst (R-IA), Fischer (R-NE), Graham (R-SC), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Lankford (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), McConnell (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Sasse (R-NE), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL) and Vitter (R-LA).