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John McCain: Accountability For Torture Is That People's Reputations Have Been Harmed Very Badly

Coming from someone who was tortured as a prisoner of war himself, this is pretty astounding. Never mind any accountability for torture, it's good eno
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Coming from someone who was tortured as a prisoner of war himself, this is pretty astounding. Never mind any accountability for torture, it's good enough that someone has had their reputation ruined. Sadly, he can get away with this sort of talk since he's being enabled by the Obama administration with their refusal to go after Bush administration officials for torturing prisoners.

GREGORY: Speaking about investigations, there's now word from Newsweek magazine today with a story about the attorney general, that he's getting closer to investigating alleged torture during the Bush administration. This is the reporting from Daniel Klaidman, that Holder "may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four sources telling Newsweek that he's now leaning towards appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices." Would that be a good idea?

McCAIN: No. Look, I fought against waterboarding. I said waterboarding was torture. We passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibited cruel and inhumane treatment. I have spoken out as forcefully as possible everywhere against what went on and that we need--it harms our image so much around the world when photographs come out and--we all know that bad things were done. We all know that the operatives who did it most likely were under orders to do so. For us to continue this and harm our image throughout the world--I agree with the president of the United States, it's time to move forward and not go back.

GREGORY: But where's the accountability?

McCAIN: Well, the accountability, obviously, is that people's reputations have been harmed very badly. The question is, is do we want America's image harmed more by dragging this out further and further? You've got to--what's going to be the positive result from airing out and ventilating details of what we already knew took place and should never have, and we are committed to making sure never happens again? I do not excuse it, I'm just saying what's the, what's the effect on America's image in the world? I don't, I don't mean to drag out my answer, but I did meet with a high ranking member of al-Qaeda in a prison in Iraq who said his greatest recruiting tool was the pictures of Abu Ghraib. We don't want to give the, the terrorists and the radical Islamic extremists more tools and bullets to shoot against us and help their recruiting in this ongoing struggle we're in.

McCain was also asked about the CIA being told by the Bush admistration not to inform Congress about one of their programs. Of course McCain just doesn't know enough about it to weigh in on it.

Full transcript below the fold.

GREGORY: But first, Senator John McCain, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

McCAIN: Thank you, David. Thanks for having me back again.

GREGORY: I'd like to--always happy to have you here. I want to start with some breaking news this morning. The front story in The New York Times is that former Vice President Dick Cheney kept Congress in the dark, his orders to keep Congress in the dark about a covert CIA program. It's a program that CIA Director Panetta has now shut down. He's briefed Congress about it. What do you know about this and what's your reaction to it?

McCAIN: Well, uncharacteristically, not a lot. I, I am not on the Intelligence Committee. I don't know what the details of this are. The vice president, I think, should obviously be heard from if the accusations are leveled in his direction. Clearly the Republicans did not sign a letter, apparently, that was written alleging this, so I, I think it's, frankly, too early for me to reach any conclusion.

GREGORY: It doesn't appear as if any lines were crossed, in your judgment?

McCAIN: I don't know because, again, a lot of this is anonymous sources.

GREGORY: Hm.

McCAIN: And this is--if I know Washington, this is the beginning of a pretty involved and detailed story. And I, I don't have enough information, but I think a lot more's to come on this.

GREGORY: Should there be an investigation, do you think?

McCAIN: I don't know if--first of all, I'd like to know the facts of the case before there should be an, "an investigation."

GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

SEN. McCAIN: How long did, did the director of the CIA know about this program and when did he terminate it? And all of these things are going to, are probably going to be heavily discussed in the weeks ahead.

GREGORY: Speaking about investigations, there's now word from Newsweek magazine today with a story about the attorney general, that he's getting closer to investigating alleged torture during the Bush administration. This is the reporting from Daniel Klaidman, that Holder "may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four sources telling Newsweek that he's now leaning towards appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices." Would that be a good idea?

McCAIN: No. Look, I fought against waterboarding. I said waterboarding was torture. We passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibited cruel and inhumane treatment. I have spoken out as forcefully as possible everywhere against what went on and that we need--it harms our image so much around the world when photographs come out and--we all know that bad things were done. We all know that the operatives who did it most likely were under orders to do so. For us to continue this and harm our image throughout the world--I agree with the president of the United States, it's time to move forward and not go back.

GREGORY: But where's the accountability?

McCAIN: Well, the accountability, obviously, is that people's reputations have been harmed very badly. The question is, is do we want America's image harmed more by dragging this out further and further? You've got to--what's going to be the positive result from airing out and ventilating details of what we already knew took place and should never have, and we are committed to making sure never happens again? I do not excuse it, I'm just saying what's the, what's the effect on America's image in the world? I don't, I don't mean to drag out my answer, but I did meet with a high ranking member of al-Qaeda in a prison in Iraq who said his greatest recruiting tool was the pictures of Abu Ghraib. We don't want to give the, the terrorists and the radical Islamic extremists more tools and bullets to shoot against us and help their recruiting in this ongoing struggle we're in.

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