McCain ‘will risk presidency’ over CIA jails
By Demetri Sevastopulo, Caroline Daniel and Holly Yeager in Washington
John McCain, the perceived Republican frontrunner for the 2008 presidential election, has dramatically raised the stakes in a fight with the White House over secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons by saying he is unwilling to back down on the issue even if it ruins his chance of becoming president.
The Arizona senator, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, strongly opposes Bush administration legislation that he believes would redefine US obligations under the Geneva conventions. The White House on Thursday attempted to downplay the escalating dispute, which mirrors a similar battle Mr McCain last year won against the administration.
But two people briefed on conversations Mr McCain had with his staff said the senator told aides he was willing to risk the presidency, because of possible loss of support from Republican lawmakers and voters.
“At this point, Senator McCain has not made a determination whether he will run for president,” said Eileen McMenamin, his spokeswoman. “His decision to take a stand on this issue is not based on a political calculation. He believes this is the right thing to do to protect American servicemen and women, and our values.”
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