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Santorum Says McCain (Who Was Tortured) Doesn't Understand How Torture Works

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Santorum was on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, and responded to a question about Sen. McCain's (R-AZ) repeated assertions that torture doesn't work and that there's no evidence that it led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"Now your former colleague, John McCain, said look, there's no record, there's no evidence here that these methods actually led to the capture or the killing of bin Laden," Hewitt said. "Do you disagree with that? Or do you think he's got an argument?"

Here's Santorum's response, via Justin Elliott of Salon:

I don't, 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 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. I mean, you break somebody, and after they're broken, they become cooperative. And that's when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that's how we ended up with bin Laden.

McCain, who was tortured when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, made a speech on the Senate floor last week decrying torture and other so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods.

"In my personal experience," McCain said, "the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence, but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear - whether it is true or false - if he believes it will relieve his suffering."

Indeed, as Elliott points out, McCain wrote in his memoirs that he falsified information when he was interrogated as a POW.

McCain also said there was no evidence that KSM gave the U.S. a lead on the courier who eventually led to bin Laden's compound because of torture:

"In fact, not only did the use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator - which was not true, as we now know. All we learned about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other 'enhanced interrogation techniques' against Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the confirmation of the already known fact that the courier existed and used an alias.

When asked for a comment, McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan told TPM: "Honestly, I'm not even going to dignify that with a comment." She also responded to Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: "Who?"

Additional reporting by Eric Kleefeld.

Ed Note: This post has been updated.