This morning on Fox News, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded to the startling information — first noted by blogger Marcy Wheeler — that detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. “It’s unacceptable,” McCain said, adding:
One is too much. Waterboarding is torture, period. I can ensure you that once enough physical pain is inflicted on someone, they will tell that interrogator whatever they think they want to hear. And most importantly, it serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.
McCain later reiterated his point, “The image of the United States of America throughout the world is a recruiting tool for Islamic extremists.” Watch it:
Despite his outspoken advocacy against torture, he said it was a “serious mistake” for the Obama administration to release the torture memos. “The release of these memos helps no one, doesn’t help America’s image, does not help us address the issue.” Obama adviser David Axelrod said the president’s belief in “the law and his belief in transparency” ultimately convinced him to release the memos.
McCain touted his sponsorship of the Detainee Treatment Act, which “prohibited torture.” In fact, that legislation contained a loophole permitting CIA agents to continue engaging in torture.
Fox News reports that 183 referred to the number of pours. “The water was poured 183 times — there were 183 pours,” one official with knowledge of the program explained, adding that “each pour was a matter of seconds.”