(CNN)-Arizona Sen. John McCain tried to straighten the record on the relationship between torture and intelligence late Thursday. On CNN’s “John King, USA,” the Republican war veteran and POW in Vietnam stood firm on his opinion that enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding amount to torture.
And for McCain, the stakes are too high to be wrong. The five-term senator told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “I had to speak out because I do feel strongly … it really is about the moral standing of the United States of America in the world.”
Reinforcing his position that the death of Osama bin Laden should not be used to re-open a debate about using enhanced interrogation techniques, McCain argued that tactics like waterboarding are not necessary to obtain critical information.
And he opposes the opinion that those strategies were exactly what led to locating bin Laden.
“I think those allegations are not substantiated by the facts,” he said. “The first information concerning this courier Abu Ahmed was obtained through another source. An individual who, as far as we know, was not subjected to these coercive techniques - in other words, torture.”
“This is one of the problems in torturing people,” he continued. “You get good information and you get bad information also…it’s pretty clear you could have gotten the same good information through using standard techniques which don’t entail waterboarding and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment.”
The senator is also not convinced that the Pakistani government had no knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
“It’s pretty clear there was some level of knowledge; we’re not exactly sure where that is,” he stated.
“I think we better set up some benchmarks for the Pakistani government and the military and the ISI [Pakistani intelligence] to meet as a contingency to our further cooperation or assistance.”
McCain cautioned, “They have an arsenal of nuclear weapons, they can provide a safe haven even more so for Taliban and al Qaeda elements. A failed state in Pakistan is not in the United States’ interest.”