Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former POW and survivor of torture, denounced the use of torture as ineffective and counterproductive after Donald Trump advocated waterboarding and “much worse” to fight terrorism. Fox News figures praised Trump’s advocacy of illegal interrogation and pushed for President Obama to adopt similar strategies.
During a June 28 campaign rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Trump called for the United States to “fight so viciously and violently” against terrorists and “fight fire with fire.” Trump also advocated for the use of waterboarding and “much worse” against enemy combatants.
Trump had previously advocated for techniques “tougher than waterboarding” as well as proposing the killing of innocent family members of enemy combatants. In May, Trump attempted to walk back those comments by acknowledging “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties,” but has since returned to proposing policy that he once recognized would force a “military officer to disobey the law.”
Fox News hosts largely supported Trump’s plans for the illegal techniques. Fox’s Peter Hegseth argued that the United States “can maintain our values while still ruthlessly going after ISIS,” and Fox host Eric Bolling downplayed torture, saying “God forbid we pour water on terrorists’ faces.”
But on June 29, Senator McCain joined Fox’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, where host Greta Van Susteren asked McCain about Trump’s advocacy for torture. McCain pointed out that numerous military leaders have said “that it not only doesn’t work, but it is counter-productive because you get bad information.” Furthermore, McCain argued that “it’s about us, not about them,” making the point that torturing enemy combatants is a contradiction of American values:
On October 26, 1967, McCain, then a Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was subjected to torture by his captors, explaining that, he “was beaten every two or three hours by different guards,” and after four days agreed to write a confession.