McCain’s amendment passed. Dick Cheney apparently wasn’t pleased.

That’s why Cheney is floating a “modest” proposal:

The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.

The proposal, which two sources said Vice President Cheney handed last Thursday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the company of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by “an element of the United States government” other than the Defense Department.

Yes, 90 voted for it. 9 against. Does this possibly suggest that the country doesn’t want uninhibited torture as a rule? One would think so.

But nooooo. Cheney wants to make sure EVERY option is on the table.

Cheney’s proposal is drafted in such a way that the exemption from the rule barring ill treatment could require a presidential finding that “such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack.” But the precise applicability of this section is not clear, and none of those involved in last week’s discussions would discuss it openly yesterday.

Political speak: “…such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack.”

Translated in English: “…for any situation or against anybody we want.”

So what did McCain do?

McCain, the principal sponsor of the legislation, rejected the proposed exemption at the meeting with Cheney, according to a government source who spoke without authorization and on the condition of anonymity. McCain spokeswoman Eileen McMenamin declined to comment. But the exemption has been assailed by human rights experts critical of the administration’s handling of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Good for you John. Don’t give in. Not on this.

Politics Cheney Still Wants CIA Above The Torture Law