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human rights

Torture worked on 'Songbird John' McCain, says Fox Business guest

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is evidence that torture is effective, a Fox Business guest said Thursday.

Thomas McInerney, a retired Air Force general who now speaks on Fox networks as a military expert, appeared on Varney & Co. on Thursday to discuss acting CIA Director Gina Haspel. In her confirmation hearing to become the agency's director, Haspel faced tough questions about her overseeing enhanced interrogation techniques while working at a secret CIA facility in Thailand in the early 2000s.

"The fact is, is John McCain, it worked on John. That's why they call him 'Songbird John,'" said McInerney. "Those methods can work, and they're effective, as former Vice President [Dick] Cheney said. And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to."

McInerney referred to Cheney's lamenting that those techniques, widely considered torture, were later deemed illegal by Congress. "People want to go back and try to rewrite history, but if it were my call, I'd do it again," said Cheney, who served alongside President George W. Bush.

McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years and tortured during his detention, falsely confessed to crimes while being held prisoner. On Wednesday, McCain announced his opposition to Haspel's nomination, saying her "refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying." Summer Meza

Update 3:18 p.m. ET: The host of the segment, Charles Payne, issued a statement apologizing to McCain and his family for McInerney's comment. Payne called McInerney's remark "false and derogatory" and said that he didn't hear McInerney say it in the moment because "I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment." Payne said he would have challenged McInerney on his claim if he'd heard it at the time. The network also pointed out that McInerney had not been paid as an analyst in a year. Read Payne's full statement here.

Editor's note: This post originally mischaracterized McInerney's relationship with Fox. It has since been clarified.