McCain 'disappointed' in candidates who back waterboarding
November 14th, 2011
06:46 PM ET
6 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. pjwaldron

    This piece should at least have a mention of how Ron Paul spoke out against waterboarding during the debate. I'm no fan of Ron Paul, but if you're discussing who did and didn't side with Perry, Cain and Bachmann on the issue, it seems a glaring omission not to mention Paul's opposition, especially as he spoke in the face of an audience hostile to his stance.

    November 14, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. Whome

    I'm disappointed that people have any interest in anything McCain has to say.

    November 14, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. tcaros

    McCain knows about toture since he was a POW. I remember when his good ole buddy Bush lied about torture along with the 'old rummy" Rumsfeld. McCain was angry with Bush and Rummy, but he wasn't angry enought to really let them have a peice of his mind.

    November 14, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. alan

    It's pretty obvious that none of the current GOP candidates have ever read the Geneva Convention or anything to do with foriegn policy. The whole bunch are the most uninformed or misinformed candidates that I have ever witnessed. It's sad that there is not one person in the GOP qualified to be president.

    November 14, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. Saoirse

    A greater torture was watching the entire Republican debate. Bottom line,... torture will give you only what you want to hear, which may be somewhat far a field from the Truth. Slainte

    November 14, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. tacjam4

    Who gives a damn what McCain thinks? He turned his back on retired Veterans...He send letters to the super committee to take away TRICARE PRIME....the main healthcare vehicle for retired Veterans. So he backs sending our young into harms way, but when they retire from the military...the throws them to the dogs! I haven't heard McCain take ONE benefit from anyone in Congress.

    November 14, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. midwestmatt

    John, you keep surprising me with your levelheaded approach to controversial subjects where you unashamedly take the high road.

    Please do more of that and less of Palin.

    An ex-Republican who would consider coming back for the right candidate.

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

    McCain is right on the money on this issue. If we have prosecuted people over waterboarding, then it IS torture.

    November 14, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. MMallon

    Particularly telling is the omission of any reference at all to Dr. Ron Paul in this article, whose stance against waterboarding and all other forms of torture not only stems from his fidelity to the philosophy of classical liberalism and his strong Christian faith, but also from his time as a veteran. Paul, in fact, is the only veteran currently running for the GOP nomination for the Presidency.

    That the writers here elected not to mention his name at all is strange for many reasons, not the least of which is that he is only one of two current candidates to have run against McCain three years ago.

    November 14, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. Lila

    Thank you Senator McCain! You know of where you speak. Perry,Cain, and Bachman are finished.

    November 14, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. nintex

    Good for Mr. McCain. Refreshing to hear a voice of reason from the fruitcake side of the aisle. Bachman, Perry, and Cain don't have a clue what they're talking about. Maybe we should waterboard them!

    November 14, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. JB

    Ron Paul was very vocal about his opposition to waterboarding too. All you had to do was put his name in there at the bottom of the article with Romney and Huntsman. It's sad that CNN is getting to where they can't even be bothered to do that. As far as the foreign policy debate went, Huntsman and Paul were the only sane and rational ones up there. Some of the things spewing from the other candidates was nothing short of disturbing.

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

    WHAT! Romney and Huntsman don't support waterboarding. What a bunch of girly men. These guys have no reason to be in this election. first they beleive in evolution, then it is global warming, now this. What could be next, belief in science or making decisions based on facts rather than ideaology. These aren't republicans, they are democrats. Where is Sarah Palin when you need her?

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

    Oh, good grief. McCain should not be surprised by anything coming out of these kooks' mouths. McCain practically invited all the nutcases to come out to run when he selected the mother of all nutcases, Sarah Palin.

    November 14, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. Buccakenji

    Who cares what McCain thinks....

    November 14, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Reverend Horton

    what a shame Rove swiftboated McCain in 2000, he would have made a great President when we really needed a man of his honor

    November 14, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. Sammy

    It's interesting, Ron Paul never gets mentioned in any new article. In this artilce you see only Jon Huntsman and Romney's name as those opposed to waterboarding. Hello??

    November 14, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Thank you Sen. John McCain .

    November 14, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. Brett

    please Michelle Bachmann barely knows american history how is she suppose to know anything about the Geneva convention. Rick Perry can barely put two sentences together in a debate, I wonder what is really going on in his head, probably too much sawdusts up there to know anything and Cain well I am sure he will come out soon and say he was only kidding or if the prisoners are woman he would torture them by hitting on them.

    November 14, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. Cindy

    If the Repubs have a chance in 2012, focus on Romney or bring back a sane, rational McCain. The other candidates are side show freaks. I voted for Obama but would consider a Republican candidate if he/she were rational, moderate, honest & truly invested in the best interests of the American people . . . and by people I do NOT mean corporations.

    November 14, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Will D

    Ron Paul was specifically asked if he believed in torture during the debate and he said NO. This is a blatant disregard for Mr. Paul's views. Just awful bias, come on Kevin...

    November 14, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. Phil

    Too bad McCain. You still need to go re-visit Vietnam's 'Hanoi Hilton' for taking the stance against veterans in which you feel and even suggest that we get get cut off TriCare Prime. I 'was' a fan and admirier of you, but nevermore.

    November 14, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  23. Grow up already...

    Gee, John... Starting to grow a few? Or that's right. You actually WERE tortured so that's why you're against it. Maybe if the rest of the Republican clowns suffered such a fate, they might see the light... Worth a try?

    November 14, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. Everythingdies

    McCain's choice of running mates was disappointing.

    November 14, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  25. tcaros

    Here's your turn McCain. Speak out against torture that you endured. That was the reason you won your first election becuase the American People wanted a former POW to remind folks about the criminal Vietnam war and what our destructive leaders, like Nixon, had gotten us into.

    November 14, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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