John McCain: Torture Helped al Qaeda Recruit

Michael Santo's picture

Just hours after former VP Dick Cheney defended the use of torture during an interview with Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), appearing on CBS' Face the Nation insisted that the use of torture on terrorism suspects violated international law, didn't work, and actually helped al Qaeda recruit additional members.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you-- do you agree with the vice president when he says this has kept the country safe all this time since this attack and it is because these interrogations worked and we found out information that helped us keep the country safe.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan. I think that these interrogations once publicized helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq who told-- who told me that.

I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed and so-- and I believe that information, according to the FBI and others, could have been gained through other methods.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When you say an al Qaeda operative told you it helped them. What-- what do you mean?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I was in-- Senator Lindsey Graham and I were in-- in Camp Bucca, the twenty-thousand-prisoner camp. We met with a former high-ranking member of al Qaeda. I said, "How did you succeed so well in Iraq after the initial invasions?" He said two things. One, the chaos that existed after the initial invasion, there was no order of any kind. Two, he said, Abu Ghraib pictures allowed me and helped me to recruit thousands of young men to our cause. Now that's al Qaeda.

And the second thing about it is, if you inflict enough pain on anyone, they'll tell you anything that to make the pain stop. So you not only get, perhaps, right information but you also get a lot of wrong information.

But the damage that it did to America's image in the world is something we're still on the way to repairing. This is an ideological struggle as well as a-- as a physical one, so.

McCain did add that he felt opening an investigation, as Attorney General Eric Holder is doing, into the past misdeeds was the wrong approach, that, as President Barack Obama said, we should move forward. However, as McCain said, "Well, the attorney general has a unique position in the cabinet, obviously. He can't be told what to do by the President of the United States."

Just in case anyone wants to blame Obama, he can't stop it, and has made it clear in the past he would prefer not to have these hearings Holder is planning.

Watch the video.

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