Whatever you might think of Sen. John McCain, you have to admit that he knows a thing or two about torture. As a guest of the “Hanoi Hilton” for five years, he suffered a broken shoulder and was bayoneted in the abdomen and foot. And that was in the first hours of his captivity — seriously!
So when McCain speaks out about enhanced interrogation, we should listen, right? That depends. Consider a comment he made via Twitter following Wednesday’s Senate grilling of Trump nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel.
The comment appears below, but before turning to it, we need to set the stage.
During the confirmation hearings, Haspel was asked repeatedly by Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris whether she considered waterboarding and similar practices to be immoral, insisting on a “yes or no answer.” Haspel attempted repeatedly to explain that the question is a complex one, but Harris was hell-bent on a simple answer.
The lengthy back-and-forth ended was Haspel’s concession that she supports the “higher moral standards” that the U.S. has adopted since renouncing the use of those techniques, but then added:
I believe CIA did extraordinary work to prevent another attack with the legal tools we were provided.
Haspel repeatedly declines to answer “yes” or “no” as to whether previous interrogation techniques were “immoral” https://t.co/2MMmZpk0Jd
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 9, 2018
That evening, McCain posted a tweet in which we hear a definitive repudiation of torture and of Haspel as a nominee:
I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country & has devoted her professional life to its service & defense. However, her role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. https://t.co/ocDtdqU2Sx
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 10, 2018
But that was not the senator’s only position on the subject, as noted by radio host Larry O’Connor, who tweeted back:
But Senator, with all respect, you voted FOR John Brennan who had the same record on rendition and enhanced interrogation as Ms. Haspel. Respectfully, why the double standard? https://t.co/AQM43yHWq4
— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) May 10, 2018