“You Don’t Understand Torture,” Candidate Tells Torture Victim

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You might want to hurry and read this story, because there may not be many more that use the phrase “presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.”

In one of the dumber statements in recent memory – and that is really saying something – Santorum insisted in a radio interview that Sen. John McCain was wrong when he spoke out last week against the use of torture. That’s how we got bin Laden, Santorum claimed, and for McCain to say it’s unjustified or ineffective just shows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “He doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works,” Santorum said. “I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative.”

Listen up, McCain. Just because you were repeatedly tortured for five and a half years while you were a prisoner in North Vietnam, don’t think you can lecture Rick Santorum on torture.

McCain, who has a history of taking strong, principled stands on controversial issues when he’s not running for office, took this one last week in a Senate speech. “I opposed waterboarding and similar so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ before Osama bin Laden was brought to justice, and I oppose them now,” he said. “I do not believe they are necessary to our success …. Even more importantly, I believe that if America uses torture, it could someday result in the torture of American combatants” in future conventional wars, McCain argued. And “it is difficult to overstate the damage that any practice of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by Americans does to our national character and historical reputation ….”

As for whether it works, McCain not only rejected that but also said that insiders who claim torture helped get bin Laden are lying. According to the CIA – which you’d think would have a motive to argue otherwise – we got nothing we didn’t already know, and not only did it “not provide us with key leads,” McCain said, “it actually produced false and misleading information.” That’s how it worked in McCain’s case, too, at least according to his memoir, evidently one of the many books Santorum hasn’t read.

Or maybe he had somebody read it to him, but thinks McCain isn’t telling the truth. I think it’s generally agreed, though, that the prisoners were being ironic when they called it the “Hanoi Hilton,” and anybody who thinks McCain wasn’t mistreated should ask why he can’t raise his arms over his head (hint: was denied treatment for broken arms and repeatedly beaten).

Maybe Santorum once asked everybody who opposes torture to raise their hands and thought nobody objected.

Not only does McCain know something about the topic, his speech was excellent and is worth reading, not least because for once a politician has been honest enough to use the word “torture” rather than the horrible vomit-inducing euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Sooner or later that phrase is going to summon George Orwell back from the grave to deal with its users, and you don’t want to be standing near Rick Santorum when Zombie George Orwell shows up.