For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011
Senator McCain: Torture Did Not Lead to bin Laden
Torture “prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them”
Washington, D.C. — Human Rights First today praised Senator John McCain’s principled and passionate stand against torture and calls on other leaders to join him.
In a piece published today in The Washington Post, Senator John McCain refuted claims that torture led to the killing of bin Laden. Based on conversations he had with CIA Director Leon Panetta, McCain writes, the first information about the courier that led the United States to bin Laden came, not by water boarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed, but from lawful interrogation of a detainee not held at Guantanamo. McCain added that the information provided by Khalid Sheik Mohammed was false.
Senator McCain stated that “information provided by torture is deliberately misleading. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive.”
C. Dixon Osburn, Director of Law & Security at Human Rights First, praised Senator McCain’s comments: “Interrogators and intelligence experts agree that torture is counterproductive, unreliable, illegal and immoral. Senator McCain knows from personal experience that no nation should ever condone torture.”
Donald Trump, a possible 2012 presidential hopeful, told a New Hampshire audience yesterday, “We wouldn’t have caught bin Laden without [torture].” Governor Tim Pawlenty said in a GOP debate in South Carolina last week, “I support the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in limited circumstances.” Senator Rick Santorum at the same debate said he too would authorize water boarding. The lone dissenter from the South Carolina debate was Senator Ron Paul who echoed what Senator McCain said today, “It [water boarding] doesn’t achieve anything.”
Osburn added, “Senator McCain’s comments should refocus Congress and those running for the presidency in 2012 on the facts that underlie smart counter terrorism operations. When General Petraeus and other military leaders say ‘no’ to torture, we should listen.”
Senator McCain stated on the floor of the Senate today, “…It is difficult to overstate the damage that any practice of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by Americans does to our national character and historical reputation – to our standing as an exceptional nation among the countries of the world.
McCain concluded, “What is at stake here is the very idea of America – the America whose values have inspired the world and instilled in the hearts of its citizens the certainty that, no matter how hard we fight, no matter how dangerous our adversary, in the course of vanquishing our enemies we do not compromise our deepest values. We are America, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard. That is what is really at stake.”
Dixon Osburn is Director of Human Rights First’s Law and Security program.