McCain stands firm on opposition to torture
May 12th, 2011
08:53 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain stands firm on opposition to torture

(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.”

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. ingrid

    This is the McCain I like...the McCain who has principles. I hope he is back to stay.

    May 12, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  2. Seattle Sue

    The first time McCain has been honest in years.

    May 12, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  3. JamesW

    John McCain endured torture at the hands of North Vietnam, He knows what it is like to be there and he and the other US POW's were trained to resist and give false and misleading info to the enemy. McCain at least has the balls to tell the truth and stand by his convictions and not just lie about the facts like the majority of the GOP. It's a shame he ever got hooked up with Mrs. Quittypants in the last election.

    May 12, 2011 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I agree with McCain on this: torture doesn't work and didn't help us get bin Laden. No matter how you spin it, it just doesn't work.

    May 12, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  5. Viki W

    Won't vote for McCain again...

    May 12, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    The exact intel that was gained through torture is still classified, so the claims that torture led to OBL are speculation. The problem with torture by America is what it does to Americans. It cost the government a huge part of the support for the war effort, and intangibles like that matter in a long-term conflict.

    We are the Americans, or at least we used to be. Supposedly we're the good guys. Supposedly we're morally superior to regimes like N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, all of whom practice state-sponsored torture. We can't coddle or make nice to the terrorists, but neither should we sink to their level. If we wish to be respected, we must act respectably. It comes with the territory.

    May 12, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. raja

    you r 100% right Mr John McCain. I agree with you.

    May 12, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. thomas

    McCain is right !

    May 12, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  9. Clwyd

    As a prisoner of war John knows the effects of torture. We condemn it when others do it and have a typical American double standard! For once I think I agree with John McCain and the fact we need to remember we signed the Geneva Conventions which prohibits torture!

    May 12, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Tom

    Well done, Senator.

    May 12, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. john

    The real masters of torture, Stalin's NKVD, were wise enough not to use torture to find out any truth. They wanted their victims to lie for them. Only fools expect the truth from torture.

    May 12, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  12. w l jones

    There thing in intelligent you keep to your self not to mention in public if you are in a position of trust.

    May 12, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  13. berto69

    Sentor McCain is right, American has always lead the way on how to treat prisoners. Those who advocate torture most likely never served in the U.S. arm forces and are not aware of the code of conduct we as soldiers swear to uphold. Besides, a prisoner who is being tortured will say and agree to anything to stop the torture.

    May 12, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  14. Danial Farooq

    Sen. McCain : It is a very positive change in your perspective . It is great to hear from you that torturing prisoners by the
    U. S. forces does not agree with your moral judgement any more . You sound like Sen. McCain , a maverick GOP 2000 presidential primary candidate . The next issue you have to change your stand in the U. S. Senate is on immigration , the sooner than later .

    May 12, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  15. sqeptiq

    McCain says it's torture but he doesn't want to prosecute the offenders. President Obama has declared prosecution off the table. They both talk the talk but neither walks the walk. If you have law enforcement authority and you refuse to use it you are culpable.

    May 12, 2011 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. wanderer

    Right on Mr. McCain, if torture were working, it would have worked on you while you were in prison in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The GOP just wanted to take some credits from the death of Bin Laden who was killed on the current Administration’s watch. Former president Bush's policy completely failed. Torture is the lowest way of treating enemy, though.

    May 12, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. Kris Jackson

    II disagree with John McCain on just about every matter of policy, but I deeply admire him as a person. (I agree with his stand on torture.)

    May 12, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. LouAz

    As the Senior Senator from my United State of Aridzona, as a Vietnam Veteran, and most of all as a Vietnam POW, I applaud and salute John McCain for his statement today in the United Staes Senate deploring torture of any kind . About this subject and all possible nuances, he knows what he is talking about, and all should follow his wise and sane council about this subject.
    I disagree strongly with almost EVERYTHING else he has ever said. Louis Cruse

    May 12, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  19. Republican Robber Baron

    Thank You Senator McCain. I appreciate you making a stand and telling the truth. As a victim of torture himself, he knows it should not be tolerated. Don't let your AZ right-wing extremists push you to abandon your values and beliefs.

    May 13, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  20. MikeH

    Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice; all War Criminals....

    The Hague needs to put a bounty on their heads, Americans citizens need to arrest these individuals and have them stand trial for their crimes.

    May 13, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |

    God Bless him....Let me find out the maverick is back.........Now help Obama pass immigration reform, and i'll really believe you're back.

    May 13, 2011 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. dbacchus

    I'm glad to see that there is one bit of decensy and even something like courage left in McCain. Good for him.

    May 13, 2011 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  23. vet2640

    Senator McCain, welcome back to the real world of sane and sensible Americans. I, too, served in Viet-Nam,1969, all the other "wanna-bees" and "political pundits" are completely out of touch with reality.

    A liberal veteran.

    May 13, 2011 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  24. John in Brooklyn

    For all of those who believe that the best stand against terrorism is to stoop to their level of torture....listen to a man who not only has served his country bravely, but KNOWS the human toll of torture first hand. I didn't vote for him but I can certainly admire a man who stands up for what is decent and right.

    May 13, 2011 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  25. Fokjou

    Of course McLame drove him cuckoo! And he ended committing high treason by blabbing national secrets to the VC in the process...

    May 13, 2011 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
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