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Santorum Backtracks On McCain Comments: I Respect His Service But Torture Still Works

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McCain last week gave a speech on the Senate floor, which he underlined in a number of other media appearances, decrying torture and "enhanced interrogation" and asserting that those methods don't work and did not lead to the death of Osama bin Laden. McCain was tortured when he was a POW during the Vietnam War, and has said that he would make up information to tell his captors.

Tuesday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Santorum said: "Everything I've read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation." And about Sen. McCain, he added: "And so this idea that we didn't ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works."

In a statement Wednesday, Santorum backtracked. CNN reports:

"I disagree with Senator McCain's view that the enhanced interrogation techniques used on a select few high-value terrorist detainees were unsuccessful nor do I believe they amounted to torture," Santorum said in a statement Wednesday. "For anyone to infer my disagreement with Senator McCain's policy position lessens my respect for his service to our country and all he had to endure is outrageous and unfortunate."

McCain spokesman Brooke Buchanan told TPM: "Senator McCain appreciates his comments and considers the matter closed."

Additional reporting by Eric Kleefeld.