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McCain: Flip-flopping on wiretapping?

The Washington Post reports on a potential issue flip by McCain, "A top lawyer for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign said telecommunications companies should be forced to explain their role in the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program as a condition for legal immunity for past wiretapping, a statement that stands in marked contrast to positions taken by President Bush, McCain and other Republicans in Congress."

"'There would need to be hearings, real hearings, to find out what actually happened, what harms actually occurred, rather than some sort of sweeping of things under the rug,' Chuck Fish, a former vice president and chief patent counsel at Time Warner, said last week at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in New Haven, Conn., according to an audiotape available on the conference Web site. 'That would be absolutely verboten in a McCain administration.'"

"The comments -- first noted last week on the blog of the technology magazine Wired -- contradict McCain's voting record, and they are almost certain to disrupt negotiations between Democratic leaders in Congress and Bush administration officials, who are seeking blanket immunity for the telecoms' cooperation with the surveillance program." 

The AP also fact-checks McCain on nuclear weapons. "John McCain's nuclear proposals are largely in line with those of the unpopular President Bush, and even where the two disagree, the Republican presidential candidate has waffled. Like the president, McCain favors extending arms control deals with Russia, opening strategic nuclear talks with China and pressing on multiple fronts to limit the spread of nuclear arms technologies. The most notable difference is perhaps the Arizona Republican's declaration that he dreams of seeing nuclear weapons eliminated. Yet even on that point McCain equivocated by also stating in his nuclear policy speech Tuesday that 'we must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent.'"

As we noted was possible last week, the Washington Post notes how McCain may have unintentionally alienated evangelicals when he rebuked Revs. Hagee and Parsley. "'He wants us to support him, but as soon as his back was against the wall, he overreacted. He is now less likely to get the evangelical vote and will have a difficult time getting strong endorsements from other ministers,' said Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., founder and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, an evangelical group that advises ministers on political and policy issues."

"'For McCain to have to repudiate these people is much worse than ever having their endorsement in the first place,' said Doug Wead, a political consultant who ranked 1,000 evangelical pastors for former president George H.W. Bush to court for endorsements. 'If evangelical Christians feel this is an attack on them, even if they don't agree with Parsley and Hagee or follow them, it could galvanize them against McCain." 

Sens. Lieberman and Graham "stepped down Wednesday from their positions with an independent group that released a pair of Internet advertisements attacking Senator Barack Obama on Iraq," the New York Times says. "Mr. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, were both on the policy advisory board to the  organization, Vets for Freedom, which on Wednesday released its second Web advertisement in less than a week attacking Mr. Obama."

"The senators' positions with the group, which describes itself as a grass-roots advocacy organization pushing for victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, seemed to place them in contravention of new conflict-of-interest rules released by Mr. McCain's campaign that specifically prohibit anyone 'with a McCain campaign title or position' from participating in a '527 or other independent entity that makes public communications that support or oppose any presidential candidate.'"

Speaking of both Lieberman and Hagee… While McCain denounced and rejected Hagee, McCain BFF Joe Lieberman isn't quite ready to throw him under the proverbial bus. Per NBC's Ken Strickland, Lieberman yesterday called past comments by Hagee "deeply unacceptable and hurtful." Yet in the same written statement, he said he still plans to attend Hagee's summit in July to "make it clear that it is imperative that our language is always respectful and tolerant of all of our fellow citizens." He also said, "Pastor Hagee has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews."