In an appearance Monday on CNN, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared to reject a suggestion from former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, that the Obama administration owed the Bush administration an apology, following a recent drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric affiliated with al Qaeda.
Over the weekend, the former vice president appeared with his daughter on CNN's "State of the Union" and told host Candy Crowley that the successful operation was proof that Obama had been overly harsh in a 2009 speech in Cairo which criticized controversial intelligence practices carried out by the Bush administration.
"The thing I am waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago, when they criticized us for 'overreacting' to the events of 9/11," Cheney said. "They in effect said we had walked away from our ideals, taking policy contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques. They have clearly moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified. In this case, it was."
"He slandered the nation," Liz Cheney added, "and I think he owes an apology to the American people. Those are the policies that kept us safe."
McCain appeared to disagree with the Cheneys on Monday, expressing his support for the mission to kill Awlaki, but refusing to judge it as a broader victory for "enhanced interrogation techniques, i.e. torture," as he put it.
“It is very obvious that one of the great recruitment tools that our enemy has is the fact that we tortured people, which is not in keeping with the standards of the treatment of prisoners," McCain said. "We never got useful information as a result of torture, but we sure got a lot of angry citizens around the world, and deservedly so."
Pressed more directly on the supposed need for an apology, McCain pointed to arguments that he has used repeatedly against the Cheneys' defense of the controversial practices, noting the Senate's overwhelming support for putting limits on interrogation techniques and the clear protections provided by the Geneva Convention.