April 23rd, 2009
03:11 PM ET
5 years ago

McCain warns the president of a possible 'witch hunt'

 McCain, who himself experienced torture tactics as a POW in Vietnam, has been a vocal critic of controversial interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration.
McCain, who himself experienced torture tactics as a POW in Vietnam, has been a vocal critic of controversial interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration.

(CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain warned Thursday if President Obama prosecuted Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation tactics on terrorist suspects, the process could "turn into a witch hunt."

"If you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive," McCain said during an interview on CBS's "Early Show."

"To go back on a witch hunt that could last for a year or so frankly is going to be bad for the country," he said.

McCain, who himself experienced torture tactics as a POW in Vietnam, has been a vocal critic of controversial interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. Earlier this year, the former 2008 Republican presidential nominee applauded President Obama's decision to end the use of waterboarding as a form of examination.

McCain, along with GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman sent a letter to the president Wednesday strongly urging him not to press charges on previous administration officials who provided legal analysis in regard to detainee interrogation, writing they "do not support the idea of a commission that would focus on the mistakes of the past."


Filed under: John McCain • President Obama
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. The Broker.

    Borack Obama. The Wind i n the White House. Full of Dreams.
    But no reality.

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    If Obama is keen to opening up investigations like these he better watch out because the next Republican president is going to do the same to him.

    Yes, there will be another Republican president, and yes, this will come back to bite Obama.

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Cerena

    Congratulations McBush for nominating yourself to be the WITCH for the witch hunt!

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Minnesotan

    "'If you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive,' McCain said" Except then the "Advice" is ILLEGAL, Mr. McLame. Stop being a puppet for your party and be the 'maverick' you always tell us you are.

    April 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. No Hillary = No Obama

    Let the witching begin!

    April 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Witch hunting has nothing to do with torture when you know the Bush administration was in charge. What a stupid comparison coming from an old man that needs to retire somewhere in a rocking chair. If Meghan McCain wants to do something for the country, take this old man home where he belongs.

    April 23, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Sarah

    One of the few issues I trusted McCain on during the campaign was torture, but he seems to have dropped the ball on this like everything else. When campaigning, McCain said he would stop waterboarding and other methods of torture that are unethical and violate basic human rights, and now he's criticizing Obama for punished those who committed these unethical acts which violated basic human rights. I just hope Obama goes through and does punish them No one is above the law, including the government.

    April 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. SLM

    McCain is right, Obama needs to put an end to all of this and move on to more important issues, like the economy. McCain has an understanding of this, Obama does not. Obama needs to quit waffling on this subject once and for all.

    April 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Shasta

    Then maybe the Republicans should have gotten over Lewinsky. Just saying.

    April 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. ANGIE IN PA

    Mccain is Pandering to The far right wing Lunatics again!

    April 23, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. I Am The Not-So-Powerful Wizard of Rush

    Appoint a special prosecuter, perhaps Patrick Fitzgerald or some other Republican.

    April 23, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. diane ca

    I wish McCain woudjust shut up. He andPalin are becoming annoying.

    April 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. David in Houston

    Don't hold those who advocated for the use of torture?

    John McCain,

    You of all people...

    Everything I once respected about you is now gone. For shame...

    April 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. J S Ragman

    This would be a worthwhile witch hunt. It wouldn't be a waste of time and money like the witch hunts that the Repubs put President Clinton through. The matters pertaining to the Clown Administration (Bush) are on a different level than oral sex and a land deal in Arkansas that proved to be virtually nothing.

    April 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Gracie, MD

    McCain needs to SHUT UP, he's just another Republican SCARED of the TRUTH coming out. Bottom line.

    These REPUGS are shaking in his boots, they know they've done some VERY ILLEGAL things and use the Justice Department at their political puppets to do their bidding!!!

    April 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. David in Houston

    Don't hold those who advocated for the use of torture responsible?

    John McCain,

    You of all people…

    Everything I once respected about you is now gone. For shame…

    April 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    oh... McCain wants to protect the GOP fascists who almost ruined our country during Bush's rotten 8 years....

    April 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Bynum

    Where was McCain during the Clinton presidency when all the Republicans did was to engage in witch hunts? I mean investigation after investigation all to discredit the then-President. Repubs are such hypocrites.

    April 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. tea party=protest against a black president

    My friend ask dick cheney to stop attacking the administration or ??? they will all go to jail.

    Rememeber that the president is a lawyer

    April 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Reading in So. Cal

    So I can assume that if the US does the torturing, it's okay? I would think someone that has been tortured would want to see justice done.

    April 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Lynne

    I think Lieberman is a turncoat and fickle. Lindsey Graham is an idiot. John McCain is plain to old to think straight. Jail all of the pasties involved with torture. Better yet, they should have to look at pictures from Abu Graib every morning.

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Jack in Florida

    No one is above the law........................the evil Bush administration needs to be investigated so history can be documented so this never happens again. Torture goes against everything we stand for in this country, thus part of the US' greatness. John, you of all people, should be outraged by the tactics used by the Bush administration due the torture you experienced in Vietnam.

    Grow some and speak the truth, and stop being partisan.

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Dee, NJ

    Sen McCain, Bush and his Party did it, but did not do it right! War is hell.

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. fella from Chicago

    Think there's dislike and mistrust amongst the Liberals and Conservatives now? Let this inquiry start and they'll be out and out hate among the two and it will divide this country possibly beyond repair. Don't do it!

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. chuck

    When John McCain speaks no one knows where he stands so he should no have a say on television because it's like George Bush and Dick Cheney saying " we've done nothing wrong".

    April 23, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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