by Mark Silva
Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war who suffered torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, said today that President Bush should veto a bill that would prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrorgation techniques on prisoners.
McCain, an outspoken opponent of waterboarding, voted against the bill, which would limit the CIA to using only 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual. He maintains that waterboarding is already illegal, but that the CIA should not be precluded from using other legal measures in its interrogation of suspected terrorists.
"I knew I would be criticized for it," McCain said of his vote today, while campaigning in Ohio. "I think I can show my record is clear. I said there should be additional techniques allowed to other agencies of government as long as they were not" torture.
"I was on the record as saying that they could use additional techniques as long as they were not cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment," McCain said. "So the vote was in keeping with my clear record of saying that they could have additional techniques, but those techniques could not violate" international rules against torture.''
Bush has said he will veto the legislation, which bars the CIA from using waterboarding, sensory deprivation or other harsh coercive methods to break a prisoner who refuses to answer questions. Those practices were banned by the military in 2006. The vill cleared the House in December, and the Senate approved it last week.
One of the measure's supporters, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) maintains that if the president vetoes the measure "he will be voting in favor of waterboarding."
McCain said this about bills which he might oppose as president: If he is elected, he will veto any measure to which he objects, rather than attaching "signing statements'' which Bush has used to enable his administration to override some of the requirements of many bills which he has signed. "I think if you disagree with a law, you have a constitutional right to veto that, authority to veto that," McCain said today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.