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Tribune editorial: McCain is right on rejection of torture

Sen. John McCain stood up tall and strong on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday said America should "not" use torture.

The Arizona Republican remained true to his maverick reputation and opposed the general Republican spin that torture techniques helped America find and kill Osama bin Laden.

Some former George W. Bush aides, including war hawks Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, have been claiming that the clue to finding bin Laden began with information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was the 9/11 mastermind who was "waterboarded" 183 times, according to the U.S. government.

The Arizona senator said simply that is a false claim.

He said Thursday that CIA Director Leon Panetta told him the bin Laden lead did "not" begin with Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed as Cheney and others claimed. The key to finding bin Laden began with separate CIA intelligence reports collected by non-coercive means.

In fact, McCain claims the U.S. has gained more accurate and valuable information through "normal, conventional interrogation techniques" than it has through torture methods. Moreover, prisoners often do not tell the truth during torture, McCain said.

McCain, a Navy pilot who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, is a self-experienced expert on torture. He has long opposed waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, and any other form of torture tactics.

Americans should, as McCain said, preserve our commitments to the U.S. Constitution, the Geneva Conventions and other agreements, and "not" practice cruel and inhumane treatment of people in American custody.

Every person tortured while in U.S. custody endangers all American military personnel serving now or in the future. America has and should always set an example for the world. This is especially true when dealing with the treatment of prisoners.

A man of McCain's honor and experience, especially in military and intelligence matters, is a longtime veteran and leader whose wisdom should be respected and followed.

McCain's Senate comments Thursday concerning torture continues his long record of duty, honor and country he has displayed throughout career.