In breaking news
this morning, the United States administration has backed down and
accepted the legislation proposed by Senator John McCain that would
unequivocally outlaw the use of torture and prohibit “cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment or punishment” of anyone in US custody.

After meeting with President Bush, McCain expressed his satisfaction with the agreement:

We’ve sent a message to the world that the United States
is not like the terrorists, but what we are is a nation that upholds
values and standards of behaviour and treatment of all people, no matter
how evil or bad they are.

The White House’s resistance to the measure had become untenable
the previous day, when the House of Representatives voted 308-122 to
instruct its negotiators to include McCain’s wording in any agreement
with the Senate. The Senate had previously supported the ban even more
overwhelmingly, 90-9.

Of itself, the measure will not stop the CIA’s practice of “rendition,”
or kidnapping of suspects overseas and flying them to secret
destinations. But by limiting the interrogation tactics that will be
allowed, and threatening prosecution of agents who step out of line, it
may allow the US to recapture a little of the high moral ground.