McCain Aide: ‘I Never Met a Dumber’ Senator than Rick Santorum

Long-shot Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has picked a fight that he can’t possibly win — and, some say, he’s making himself look like a complete buffoon in the process.

The former Pennsylvania senator is challenging Senator John McCain on the issue of enhanced interrogation.

McCain, who was severely tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam — sustaining beatings every two to three hours during one particularly grueling four-day period in August 1968, resulting in cracked ribs and a broken arm, and enduring beatings two to three times weekly during his 5 1/2 year stay at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” — probably knows more about this subject than anyone in public life today.

Yet, Santorum, the latest laughingstock in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes — who, incidentally, never served in the military or spent so much as a day in the intelligence community — wants to lecture McCain, of all people, on the issue of torture.

This stuff is too good to make up.

The dustup between Santorum and the 74-year-old McCain began shortly after the 2008 GOP presidential nominee wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post asserting that information leading to Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and his eventual demise wasn’t the result of waterboarding, or any other “enhanced interrogation” techniques used on detainees, as many former officials in the Bush White House have claimed.

McCain later gave an impassioned speech on the subject from floor of the U.S. Senate, making the case that torture was wrong.

In his op-ed piece, McCain refuted the claim made by many in the Bush administration that the trail to bin Laden began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who had been subjected to waterboarding 183 times.

“That is false,” wrote McCain.

The nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led the CIA to bin Laden, he said, actually came from a detainee held in another country, one whom U.S. officials believe wasn’t tortured.

“I know from personal experience that 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 — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering,” McCain continued. “Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.

“In fact, the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information,” said McCain, who once described how he himself had provided his interrogators false information in response to repeated beatings as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

McCain’s public comments — strongly refuting those of the previous administration — prompted a response from Santorum, who said on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative radio talk show on Tuesday that McCain 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,” said Santorum, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2007.

Those closest to McCain immediately leaped to the Arizona senator’s defense. Among them was former senior McCain advisor and speechwriter Mark Salter, who collaborated with McCain on a number of books, including the 1999 bestseller Faith of My Fathers.

“Ron Paul may be the wackiest candidate in the GOP field,” wrote Salter, firing away at the former Pennsylvania senator on Facebook. “But for pure, blind stupidity, nobody beats Santorum. In my 20 years in the Senate, I never met a dumber member, which he reminded me of today.”

Santorum, who continues to disagree with McCain on the issue of enhanced interrogation, later said that he meant no disrespect to his party’s 2008 nominee.

One Response

  1. Austin Cassidy
    Austin Cassidy May 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm | | Reply

    Absolutely hilarious.

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