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. ED FL

    The only person in America that pays any attention to what Mccain says is Mccain. He loves to hear himself talk about how great he is.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. Lee

    Hurry Mitt, you need to flip-flop on this.

    The base of the republican "base" demands this blood lust!

    November 14, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. Seattle Sue

    This issue is about the only thing McCain has been right about.

    November 14, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. Mike

    It's a shame McCain can be so crazy sometimes, when other times he's such a level headed man.

    Republicans could learn a lot from McCain when he makes comments like these.

    November 14, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. dah00

    Let's waterboard any candidate who wants to waterboard other people. Fair's fair.

    November 14, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. Rex

    Yet he was not disappointed with Ron Paul. The man he said was the most honest person in Congress.

    November 14, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. lynay

    I agree with McCain (and I don't belong to either political party). We should be smart enough to interrogate without waterboarding. Ali Soufan certainly sounded like he knew what he was doing when he was with the FBI.

    November 14, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. Ron

    McCain is absolutely right on this issue. I'm almost certain Ron Paul does not support water boarding. That leaves one candidate that we haven't heard from: Gingrich.

    November 14, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. Flo

    Simply put, people who support waterboarding are fascists, un-American, un-Christian. Torture is torture. It's NOT "enhanced interrogation." Torture by any other name is still torture. It was illegal and immoral internationally during WWII and still is.

    November 14, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. nina

    If morals are what you demonstrate by your actions when you don't have an audience

    then I shudder to think about the lack of morals the current crop of republican hopefuls have, who would engage in internationally illegal practises

    November 14, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Rex

    Ron Paul does not support waterboarding. You failed to mention that. CNN is like a magician trying to force a card.

    November 14, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. nebulizer

    When you torture your enemies, you are giving them approval to torture your own forces.

    November 14, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. geterdone

    I am really amazed at the stupidity of these candidates. How can anybody take Michelle Bachmann seriously? She says it is a"very effective techniqe." It is just the opposite. God help us if any of these bufoons is elected

    November 14, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  14. James

    CNN intentionally blacked out Ron Paul as the only one that spoke out against water boarding using almost half of his 90 seconds. OK CNN wait till Ron Paul Runs third party...i guess that will give you plenty to talk about.. Ron Paul 2012

    November 14, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  15. Desmond in Canada

    Congratulations, Sen McCain on having the integrity to say so.

    November 14, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. kathic

    Jon who? Someone who polls at 1%? I think CNN meant Ron Paul, a person with double digit support.

    November 14, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  17. usualone

    Senator McCain would have more knowledge about this issue than any of the candidates. One may not agree with him about most issues but from his military experience I would think he has more insight than these people. It is easy to talk hard - but does that produce positive results?

    November 14, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. ath

    I wonder if Herman Cane would subject himself to water boarding if he thinks it is not torture? Just wondering,,,,And thoughts about that Herman?

    November 14, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Kingfisher

    Palin/McCain 2012.. unless y'all want to admit voting for Obama was the RIGHT choice you've gotta get back on that horse. We know it's all theatrics anyway. Give princess the crown this time tho. I just gotta see the look on Kim's face when she wins. Kamsahamnidah! Head 'em up, move 'em out, roll on... ;o)

    November 14, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  20. John

    That what I was saying ,If we do thing like that It mean they can do It to are troops and these Idiot are saying It OK. All these Republican candidates are nothing but Clowns that don't know what they are doing.

    November 14, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. S Lauden

    Rick Perry comment on the subject in last debate -
    "Waterboarding?? – Isnt that something you do when you go surfing in Hawaii ?"

    November 14, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. DB

    So, does that mean you will vote for Obama, Mr. McCain?

    November 14, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  23. G D

    Bravo John! On this we agree. Torture has been shown to have very limited effectiveness. But regardless, what it absolutely achieves is an erosion of our moral standing in the world. If we do it to "them" we can only expect "them" to do it to us if the opportunity arises. Civilized nations can and should do better, if not for the higher reasons, then at least for the logical ones.

    November 14, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. Haeckelist

    Very well said. It is a disgrace that torture is seriously discussed in a country that aspires to moral leadership in the world.

    McCain is one of the few republicans out there with some sense and knowledge of how the world works. Colin Powell is another one. But these heroes are considered too moderate by the draft-dodging fundamentalist Ayatollahs of the GOP.

    November 14, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. Ramon F. Herrera

    The job of Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Beck and others far righties is simple: to spread hatred a fear. It is a very effective strategy, at least in the short run...

    November 14, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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