Dick Cheney has a special fondness for cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment. While his office staff is embroiled in a Watergate-size scandal, Cheney still found time last week to hold several closed-door meetings, where he pleaded to be allowed to continue torturing prisoners.

Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session…

The vice president made his comments at a regular weekly private meeting of Senate Republican senators, according to several lawmakers who attended. Cheney often attends the meetings, a chance for the rank-and-file to discuss legislative strategy, but he rarely speaks.

In this case, the room was cleared of aides before the vice president began his remarks, said by one senator to include a reference to classified material…

Cheney also has met several times with McCain, including one session that CIA Director Porter Goss attended in a secure room in the Capitol.

However, McCain has remained unmoved. In fact, he appears to have been emboldened:

McCain has now pledged to to add the torture ban to all major Senate legislation until it becomes law.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McCain said, “If necessary – and I sincerely hope it is not – I and the co-sponsors of this amendment will seek to add it to every piece of important legislation voted on in the Senate until the will of a substantial bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress prevails. Let no one doubt our determination.”

Fareed Zakaria, states the obvious in a Newsweek column entitled, Pssst … Nobody Loves a Torturer:

As President Bush’s approval ratings sink at home, the glee across the globe rises. He remains the most unpopular political figure in the world, and newspapers from Europe to Asia are delighting in his troubles. Last week’s protests in Mar del Plata were happily replayed on televisions everywhere. So what is the leader of the free world to do? Well, I have a suggestion that might improve Bush’s image abroad—and it doesn’t require that Karen Hughes go anywhere. It would actually help Bush at home as well, and it has the additional virtue of being the right thing to do. It’s simple: end the administration’s disastrous experiment with officially sanctioned torture.

It must be intimidating to have the Vice-President and the Director of Central Intelligence take you into a private, secured room, and try to pitch an exemption to a ban on cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment. It must be somewhat akin to facing down pure evil. But John McCain has faced pure evil before. John McCain has been tortured and beaten, and subjected to cruel conditions, and dehumanizing isolation.

I don’t go out of my way to praise Republicans too often. I will never understand why McCain forgave Bush for slandering his wife and child in South Carolina. But I have nothing but the utmost praise and admiration for the courageous stand McCain is taking now. He wins my Profile in Courage Award.

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