Sen. John McCain Monday slammed Donald Trump’s comments over the weekend praising the merits of waterboarding, saying that that anyone who claims the extreme interrogation technique is a way to get useful information is lying.
“This is a near-death experience,” McCain said on Fox News’ “Outnumbered” program, which his daughter, Meghan, co-hosts. “They will tell that person who is administering that anything they want to hear.”
During Saturday night’s GOP debate and on several Sunday morning shows, Trump commented that if he becomes president, he would “absolutely authorize” waterboarding or “a hell of a lot worse.”
“They’re chopping off heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper on the “State of the Union” program. “They’re chopping heads off, they laugh at us when they hear we’re not going to approve waterboarding and then they’ll have a James Foley and others where they cut off their heads.”
McCain, who himself was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, pointed out that the Geneva convention prohibits the technique, and there has been a 93-3 vote in the Senate to stop it.
Further, the Arizona Republican issued an official statement on Monday on the topic, quoting several experts who call the practice’s outcome dangerous for American military personnel.
“I think all of us admire Gen. David Petraeus, [so] let me give you his quote,” the veteran senator and former presidential nominee said. “‘Our nation has paid a high price in recent decades for the information gained by the use of techniques beyond those in the field manual. And in my view, that price far outweighed the value of the information gained through the use of techniques beyond those in the manual.'”
The revelations about the waterboarding techniques used at the Abu Ghraib prison shocked the world, McCain continued, and was used as propaganda for Islamist extremists.
“We tried Japanese generals and hung them for war crimes,” said McCain. “One of the crimes was waterboarding.”
And while there have been some who say the technique led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, McCain said, “they’re lying.”
“What we got was a whole lot of bad information from these people who just told whatever they thought the interrogator wanted to hear,” McCain said. “Are we going to subject people to torture? Is that what the United States is all about?”
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