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?"
McCain said he spoke with Petraeus on Monday morning, who told him the best way to get information is to be a friend of the prisoner and develop a relationship over time.
And waterboarding is in violation of the law.
"They're in violation of the Geneva conventions and I believe that they're lying when they said they got useful information," said McCain. "They, in fact. I know they're lying when they are saying that they didn't. They got a whole lot of information that was totally false, because when you torture somebody. The major thing is, do we want to resort to doing things that our enemies do? Do we want to be on the same plane as those people chopping off heads?"
While at first he was hesitant to call anyone a liar on the issue, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under then-president George W. Bush was lying when he pointed out examples of how well waterboarding works.
But, "the point is not whether he is a liar or not," McCain said. "The point is even if we had gotten useful information, the propaganda and image and the behavior of the greatest nation on Earth by torturing people is not what we want and it helps the enemy."
McCain said he chooses to believe military experts such as Petraeus, not Mukasey, when it comes to how it hurts the United States military to approve torturing of prisoners.
"Do we want a president who will violate the law?" McCain said of Trump. "I don't think so? We have enough of that with Barack Obama."
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