National Security

McCain Defies Trump’s Call To Waterboard Terrorists

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Sen. John McCain insisted that the U.S. will not torture captured terrorists, defying President-elect Donald Trump’s stance on the issue.

“I don’t give a damn what the President of the United States wants to do, or anybody else wants to do,” said McCain, during a talk at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia Sunday. “We will not waterboard. We will not torture.”

McCain added that torture “doesn’t work,” explaining that a prisoner will say anything if you inflict enough pain on them, including waterboarding, which McCain considers torture. He pointed to the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as the “architect” of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, as an example of how torture is ineffective. McCain noted that Mohammed gave false information while being waterboarded, which led security officials “on wild goose chases.”

McCain added that some interrogators who can “gain the confidence of the suspect” thus receiving as much intelligence as they desire.

Trump called for the re-institution of waterboarding and harsh interrogation methods against terrorists early in his presidential campaign. He walked back those comments in March, claiming that he would “broaden” the laws regarding so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

“We have to play the game the way they’re playing the game,” said Trump on CBS’s Face the Nation in March. “You’re not going to win if we’re soft and they’re, they have no rules.”

McCain, a former Navy aviator, endured several years of torture during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He has been one of the leading voices speaking out against enhanced interrogation techniques since their active use during the George W. Bush administration was revealed.

“But my God, what does it say about America if we’re going to inflict torture on people,” said McCain. “It makes it hard for us to make the argument about the moral superiority of our way of government and our way of life.”

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