Fox Guest Says 'Songbird John' McCain Shows Torture Works

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Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney called McCain "Songbird John," alluding to false claims that the Arizona senator gave up intel while in Vietnam.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said he thinks that torture works. And he has an odd example to prove it does: Sen. John McCain.

He’s wrong on both counts.

McCain on Wednesday evening announced that, while he has great respect for Gina Haspel, he would be opposing her nomination to lead the CIA due to her refusal to condemn torture in the past.

“Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying,” McCain said. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

Haspel had been part of a controversial torture program while serving at a secret prison during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

McInerney supports Haspel, and he even backed the idea that torture works as a means of obtaining information. He went one step further, making a baseless attack on McCain, claiming he gave up valuable information when he was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

While defending the issue of torture, McInerney said on Fox Business Channel, “The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”

There is no truth to that statement, of course — a similar claim made in a campaign flyer in 2008 received a “Pants on Fire” rating from the esteemed PolitiFact.

Yet McInerney continued with his insistence that torture could be reliable, saying, “The fact is those methods can work, and they are effective, as former Vice President Cheney said.”

But it doesn’t matter what Cheney said — the facts are facts, and the former vice president frequently got his mixed up.

Torture doesn’t lead to reliable answers from those who receive it — even Haspel admitted as much to the Senate earlier this week. Rather, individuals subjected to torture methods typically give answers that will lead to the fastest outcome out of pain, saying what they think their inflictors want to hear rather than the truth.

McInerney is foolish to believe that torture worked in the past, but he’s disrespectful to McCain for repeating attacks made against him years ago that were similarly disproved. The former Air Force lieutenant general ought to research his facts before agreeing to appear on television again — and issue an apology to McCain right away.

 Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

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