WASHINGTON – The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committees is insisting that enhanced interrogation techniques were not a factor in the discovery of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts and he rejected any form of torture.
In a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Arizona's John McCain said that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques are not necessary to the U.S. success in the war on terror.
“It was not torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden,” he said.
The Arizona senator said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey was wrong when he claimed harsh interrogation had led to bin Laden. McCain said he got the facts from CIA Director Leon Panetta and they contradicted Mukasey's claim.
McCain addressed his opposition to torture and said it did not play a role in the search for bin Laden in a Washington Post op-ed published on Wednesday:
I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.
In fact, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator — none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden — was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.
McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years in North Vietnam. He said the U.S. should not compromise its deepest values by using torture tactics.
Via ABC News comes video of McCain's remarks on the Senate floor.