McCain Denounces Torture: ‘The Very Idea Of America’ Is At Stake (VIDEO)

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took to the Senate floor Thursday to condemn waterboarding and other torture techniques, saying that the debate over these techniques is ultimately “about morality. What is at stake here it the very idea of America.”

“The America,” he continued, “whose values have inspired the world and instilled in the hearts of its citizens the certainty that no matter how hard we fight, no matter how dangerous our adversary, in the course of vanquishing our enemies we do not compromise our deepest vlaues.”

In the time since Osama bin Laden was killed, a number of conservatives have sought to give credit for his death to George W. Bush, specifically for his decision to torture prisoners for information that they say ultimately led to bin Laden. McCain, who was tortured when he was a POW during the Vietnam War, has long been opposed to the interrogation methods implemented during the Bush Administration.

McCain began his speech on the Senate floor by laying out his belief that waterboarding is torture, despite the “enhanced interrogation” euphemism frequently used by its supporters: “I believe some of these practices, especially waterboarding — which is a mock execution and thus to me indisputably torture — are and should be prohibited in a nation that is exceptional in its defense and advocacy of human rights.”

He continued that he would oppose any legislation that would authorize a return to waterboarding or any other methods of interrogation that he believes “are torture, or cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and as such unworthy and injurious to our country.”

McCain did offer some praise for those who implemented the techniques, saying that he understands why they were approved, “and I know that those who approved them, and those who employed them in the interrogation of captured terrorists were admirably dedicated to protecting the American people from harm.” He also added that he doesn’t believe anyone should be prosecuted for having used torture in the past.

Here are some highlights:

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