John McCain may be sincere in his stand on military tribunals, but he is sincerely wrong.
The real issue is who defines what is "degrading" under Common Article Three. Unfortunately, given the proven track record of Amnesty International, which has stuck up for such noble persons like Pablo Escobar (a good drug lord, who during his tenure as head of the Medellin crug cartel, ordered the bombing of an airliner), Saddam Hussein (the former Iraqi dictator who used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds), and Ahmed Hikmat Shakir (a terrorist sprung by pressure from Amnesty International in 2002), not to mention other human rights groups, there is a chance that "degrading" and "inhumane" are going to be defined in a way that makes the people who are trying to keep innocent civilians from being bombed or maimed by the bad guys if they give terrorist thugs anything less than five-star treatment. The Detainee Treatment Act has the necessary bright-line standards that they cannot cross while also making sure we have access to methods that get information should we need them.
The Warner-McCain-Graham legislation is only going to make it more likely that when the day comes, and we face a pending WMD attack, and have a planner of that operation in custody, we're going to hold back on the terrorist involved. As a result, the attack will succeed, and then long-standing U.S. policy will force a response in kind. For the record, the United States only has nuclear weapons.
And with all due respect to Secretary of State Powell, who has taken a lot of unfair criticism over the whole Armitage/Plame fiasco, if roughing up a terrorist leads people to doubt the moral basis of the war on terror, what do you think our inevitable - and necessary - response would do to our moral standing? Yeah, we'd be justified in responding, but is a nuclear response whose body count would be measured in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands (or even millions) really a more moral action than roughing up a terrorist and making the response unnecessary in the first place? Mr. Secretary, as much as I hate to say this, your position on this makes less sense than your decision to designate the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization (for a detailed explanation of why I disagreed with that decision, readers can look at my review of Killing Pablo at Strategypage.com).
If someone's an al-Qaeda terrorist we've captured on the battlefield, I'm with Harry Callaghan in saying, "Well, I'm all broken up over that man's rights!" Innocent people - particularly American citizens and those in the United States - have to come first.
Note: This was cross-posted at GOPProgress.com.