McCain 'disappointed' in candidates who back waterboarding
November 14th, 2011
06:46 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain 'disappointed' in candidates who back waterboarding

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Monday he was "disappointed" that some candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination vocally support waterboarding as a technique for interrogating suspected terrorists.

"Ask any military lawyer, ask any person who knows about the Geneva conventions that we're signatories to. We actually prosecuted Japanese war criminals specifically for the act of waterboarding against Americans," McCain said on CNN's "John King, USA."

The Arizona lawmaker was reacting specifically to comments made by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former pizza executive Herman Cain, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman at Saturday's GOP presidential debate.

McCain said Monday that waterboarding was not only illegal, but ineffective.

"If you put enough physical pain on somebody, they will tell you whatever they think that you want to hear in order for the pain to stop," McCain said.

McCain said the person elected president needed to display leadership to ensure Americans know international law prohibits torture.

"It's a matter of the president telling the American people about the Geneva Conventions," McCain said. "And why we didn't torture prisoners in World War II. That was because they had Americans as prisoners. And why we prosecuted people for the very same act of waterboarding after World War II was over."

McCain took a strong stance against waterboarding when he was running for president in 2008. A former naval aviator, McCain was shot down by the North Vietnamese in 1967, and endured years of imprisonment and torture as a POW.

At the debate Saturday night, hosted by CBS News and the National Journal, three candidates came out in support of waterboarding.

Perry defended the practice, saying: "This is war. That's what happens in war."

Cain said of waterboarding, ""I don't see that as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique."

Bachmann called the tactic "very effective" and said Obama "is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA."

Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer Monday, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santroum said he did support waterboarding, citing its role in locating terrorists.

"This is something we should not use cavalierly by any stretch of the imagination, but if absolutely necessary, for the security of our country, we have to have methods available to extract from people who are not protected by the Geneva Convention," Santorum said on "The Situation Room."

Other candidates, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney do not support the tactic.

Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • TV-John King U.S.A.
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    In this instance, I agree with McCain. I wonder what the responses would have been if the follow up question was "and would you support waterboarding of Americans?" My guess is the answer would be a resounding 'no'. And therein lies a problem we have with our image abroad - we don't have to follow the rules but everyone else does.

    November 14, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. Jake

    Michelle Bachmann in particular deserves to be called out on her idiotic statements!

    November 14, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  3. jdwy

    i cant believe it but i have to agree with him. the folks running for the GOP nomination are no students of history, that's for sure. the word is pandering

    November 14, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Reed

    Let each of these three candidates undergo a four-hour (no less) enhanced interrogation session and then let give an enlightened eassessment. No whining out after 10 seconds like some Fox News personage apparently did recentlly

    November 14, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. Strategic Bob

    Senator McCain is wrong on many issues, but this is not one of them. He knows what torture is. He experienced it in North Viet Nam. He is a true patriot and we should honor him for his service and the integrity and loyalty he showed as a POW.

    November 14, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Ramrod

    It doesn't matter what these wannabees say; it is all hot air. Soon all of them will be voted off the island.

    November 14, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  7. Donald in CA

    The teapublicans have gotten so rotten that i will never believe that the majority of american believe in these folks. They hate the poor, dont believe in unemployment and cutting taxes for the rich and raising them for the middle class. We will see where these 99 percenters are at when the 2012 elections come around. We will find out where the hypocrites are.

    November 14, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. joe

    Amazing. The only candidate who is most vocal on this issue is Ron Paul. Not one mention in this article. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

    November 14, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Are you kidding me? Nobody has anything to say about this?

    November 14, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. David

    There always seems to be an inverse relationship between how conservative a Christian one claims to be and how Christlike they actually are.

    November 14, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. jerseylou

    McCain,i bet if you had Palin sitting on your lap you would be singing a different tune. BTW GLENN RICE thank you for nailing the coffin closed on Palin.

    November 14, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. Colt Teuscher

    It amazes me that so many articles I read find away to use every candidate's name except Ron Paul. Ron Paul was very vocal against Water Boarding yet he doesn't even get the afterthought shoutout that Huntsman and Romney get.

    November 14, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. Jon

    And once again, torture is back on the political menu... wunderbar.

    November 14, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  14. once upon a horse

    I wonder if these Republicans that support waterboarding would also support any American POWs being waterboarded and say then that it wasn't torture. Thanks to the likes of Ron Paul and John Huntsman that don't agree with doing it and Sen McCain who has lived it and is against it. I guess if we are going to stoop to the level of our enemies then we will also start to have public beheadings and tape them as well for all to see. And I think what gets me even more is that Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann claim to be so CHRISTIAN!! Me thinks they need to go read the Bible again.

    November 14, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. cja

    Who care what these clowns say, none of them is electable. The majority of the Republican party will not support any of them and to win they would need ALL of the republicans and many Democrats. These clowns are just pandering to ignorant redneck tea party members I think the non-clowns are waiting for 2016.

    November 14, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. asasf

    Other candidates, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney do not support the tactic. Romney wasn't asked. Its Ron Paul who strongly objected the practice. CNN blackout of Ron Paul again.

    November 14, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. PatSJ

    But... Bachman says it is very effective! Who are we to believe?

    November 14, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. Patrick H

    It doesnt surprise me that Cain, Bachmann and Perry are the three that support it. They are the three worst candidates for the GOP. This also goes to show the both sides, the right and the left, can have good ideas and should work together instead of fighting. McCain, a former POW, knows better than the rest of his GOP counterparts the effects of torture, and his opinion should hold more weight than all of theirs put together.

    November 14, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  19. Dennis

    I am extremely disappointed in John McCain who has been aggressively lobbying the Super Committee to reduce benefits to our wounded warriors, while at the same time aggressively lobbying to retain the tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy of this country, the same people that our wounded warriors were willing to die for. It would seem that the ultra-wealthy would be willing to pay a fair tax for their freedom to pursue greed and corruption.

    November 14, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. News

    For those against waterboarding....You should opt out of any beneficial information that may save yours and or your family and friends life that is gleaned from waterboarding.........

    November 14, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  21. Joseph Knapp

    Love McCain.think is an absolute hero to our country and would have been doing a much better job as president,but sorry McCain on this one but its an effective method that's needed in times where time isn't a luxory we have and we must do ne thing we can try. Sincerely, joseph knapp

    November 14, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. R.Williams

    Sen. McCain has lived through these 'enhanced interrogation' techniques. Maybe the GOP Armchair Generals should listen to the man.

    November 14, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. Jack Wilson

    This pretty much explains why McCain is not POTUS. First, he has not found a war he doesn't like, and then wants to use the Geneva Conventions. Those apply to the national armies of aggressor nations, and have not one damned thing to do with Terrorists (aka enemy combatants). John McCain well knows the types of techniques used by our enemies are far from compliant with the geneva conventions, yet insists that we fight with one hand behind our back! The name of the game is war....fight to win or don't engage in it...if that means treating common terrorists with "enhanced interrogation techniques" then that is what you do to win. You would think that John would have learned the lessons of history, in that congress cannot fight a winning war. It been proven every time since WWII.

    November 14, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. zeigfeldf

    Waterbo*rd Cain, then ask him again whether it's torture or not.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Bill D.

    This ....from the guy who brought us and catapulted Sara Palin to fame.
    Please, just go away...far away. Your opinions are utterly irrelevant.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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