Bush will of course veto the bill, which he claims takes away his constitutional privilege to kick terrorist ass when necessary, so McCain will be placed right back in the box very soon.
But here's the rub. We spend all this mental energy flailing about on how to treat captured terrorists and in a bright white flash a guy like Imad Mughniyeh gets blown to smithereens without the slightest trace of habeas corpus, ACLU lawyers, enemy combatant hearings or testimonials from Rosie. Sure, Israel might be the culprit and they have different rules, but we've done this before.
Somehow killing a terrorist using a car bomb or hellfire missile fired from a CIA toy airplane is seen as justice, not torture! Yet if either (both were wanted by America) had been captured and brought to GTMO they could have become cause celebre's for Dick Durbin while providing campaign fodder for certain messianic presidential candidates.
Maybe that's McCain's out. Next time they criticize him for allowing waterboarding he can just say, "well, my friends, at least we're not treating them like Mughniyeh or Atef". Seriously, McCain is smart enough to understand that tying the hands of a Commander-in-Chief, regardless of circumstances, is not a good thing. This should serve as a harbinger--the people poised to take over the government next year think such a thing rivals sliced bread.
A mea culpa is in order. Seems I've conflated two intelligence bills into one. Apologies, and thanks to commenter Mick Wright for alerting me to my dumbness.
Hopefully this is correct--the bill McCain voted nay on was House 2082, a reauthorization bill for intelligence activities which among other things established using the Army Field Manual for interrogation, effectively tying the hands of the CIC as to any "ticking bomb" scenarios. Bush has threatened to veto this bill, and the left was hoping McCain would join them in an effort to get a veto-proof margin and chisel this into stone. Apparently when faced with a possible presidency the idea of limiting powers didn't seem so attractive. But it certainly opens him to hypocrisy charges based on previous statements.
Another bill, Senate 2248, the FISA reauthorization and amendment bill, was passed in the Senate with a veto-proof majority. This is apparently the bill the House refused to take up today resulting in the GOP walkout. It has nothing to do with waterboarding. McCain did
I provide no guarantees on the correctness of the above update but it simply has to be closer than the initial posting. McCain will still be faced with a vote when House 2082 comes back after Bush's veto, which will be re-spun as him favoring waterboarding and torture when in effect the central issue is whether to tie a president's hands in protecting the country.
McCain voted yea on Senate 2248, it was an amendment vote he wasn't present for. Heck, let's just let Mick explain it. I'm going to bed.