McCain admits: torture did not lead US to bin Laden
WASHINGTON - Senior US Senator John McCain on Thursday flatly disputed claims that harsh interrogations that met international definitions of torture led US forces to Osama bin Laden.
"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," McCain said in an impassioned speech.
The senator, who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, accused former US attorney general Michael Mukasey of incorrectly crediting the waterboarding of senior Al-Qaeda figure Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for yielding critical information in the hunt for bin Laden.
"That is false," said McCain, who cited information from the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee that "the best intelligence" came from a CIA detainee questioned with "standard, non-coercive means."
"I hope former attorney general Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It's important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America's security and reputation," said the senator.
"Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts," said McCain, who serves as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Still, the senator said he opposed any prosecutions of US officials who carried out interrogations that met international definitions of torture and urged President Barack Obama to "state definitively that no one will be."
Since elite US commandos killed bin Laden in a daring raid inside Pakistan, ending a global manhunt for the author of the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes, Former aides to US president George W. Bush have claimed publicly that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were critical to finding the Al-Qaeda chief.