John McCain spoke shortly after the Senate released its report on torture
The Arizona Republican was tortured during his service in Vietnam
He acknowledged the release of the report was a "hard pill to swallow"
Republican Sen. John McCain broke with members of his party Tuesday, lauding the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture and decrying the use of torture as having “stained our national honor” and doing “much harm and little practical good.”
McCain, a survivor of torture himself from his naval service during the Vietnam War, said from the Senate floor that the techniques outlined in the report “not only failed their purpose – to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies – but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.”
Many Republicans have argued against releasing the report, especially as the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria grows, and U.S. intelligence officials have warned that its release could cause backlash from nations and groups hostile towards the nation. American embassies in the Middle East have been put on heightened security alert for its release.
McCain said that while “the truth is a hard pill to swallow … the American people are entitled to it.” And he acknowledged that violence against the U.S. from the “Muslim world” is “possible … perhaps likely” but argued that America’s enemies “hardly need an excuse” to attack the nation, so the good done by the release of the report should trump any security concerns.
“This report strengthens self-government and, ultimately, I believe, America’s security and stature in the world,” he said.
During his comments, McCain referenced his own experience with torture and argued that it “produces more misleading information than actionable intelligence” and that “we can and we will” win the war on terrorism without such techniques.
But he argued that the U.S. shouldn’t resort to such tactics not just because they’re ineffective and potentially dangerous but because they undermine the nation’s values and beliefs.
“I have often said, and will always maintain, that this question isn’t about our enemies; it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world,” he said.
McCain added, “When we fight to defend our securit,y we fight also for an idea … that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights.”
“Our enemies act without conscience. We must not,” he added.