I believe some of these practices – especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution, and thus to me, indisputably torture – are and should be prohibited in a nation that is exceptional in its defense and advocacy of human rights. I believe they are a violation of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions, all of which forbid cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of all captured combatants, whether they wear the uniform of a country or are essentially stateless.
I believe that if America uses torture, it could someday result in the torture of American combatants. Yes, I know that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations do not share our scruples about the treatment of enemy combatants, and have and will continue to subject American soldiers and anyone they capture to the cruelest mistreatment imaginable. But we must bear in mind the likelihood that some day we will be involved in a more conventional war against a state and not a terrorist movement or insurgency, and be careful that we do not set a standard that another country could use to justify their mistreatment of our prisoners.
The whole speech is well worth reading. This is John McCain at his best. Sadly, as the commentary from The Specator concluded: In a better world anyone who disagrees with McCain on this would have no hope of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Alas, the reverse is more probably true.