Last night, 60 Minutes interviewed Jose Rodriguez, the former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. He is promoting a new book in which he defends the CIA’s use of torture. In the piece, anchor Leslie Stahl introduced Senator John McCain by seeming to suggest that McCain’s experience as a torture survivor somehow made him a biased commentator. She said, “John McCain. A huge critic of this program. He had been tortured, so we know where he’s coming from.”
We do know where the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is coming from because he has been unambiguous in his rejection of torture. In his memoir, Faith of My Fathers, McCain describes how he provided false information to his interrogators to stop the beatings:
Once my condition had stabilized, my interrogators resumed their work. Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate. Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron.
But McCain’s antitorture position goes beyond his personal experience. He argues that torture is a threat to national security. Its use risks American lives and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists. He has also repeatedly said that Americans should reject torture because of our values—of who we are.
The facts are clear: torture is illegal and does not work. Not only does torture undercut U.S. moral credibility, it’s counterproductive. The overwhelming majority of professional interrogators say they do not need to use torture to make suspects talk. U.S. interrogators are nearly unanimous in their view that legal, rapport-building techniques are more sophisticated and a more effective way to elicit information from a hostile detainee.
If only Rodriguez and his fellow torture-advocates would have listened to the experts. Like John McCain.