Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., unequivocally praised President Obama on Monday for killing al-Qaida propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen -- distancing himself from former Vice President Dick Cheney’s contention that Obama should apologize to the Bush administration for criticizing its counterterrorism policies.
Cheney, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, said he was “waiting for… the administration to go back and correct” its statement that the Bush administration overreacted to the events of 9/11 and its opposition to enhanced interrogation techniques. The Obama administration “clearly [has] moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it's justified,” Cheney said.
McCain, a longtime critic of enhanced interrogation practices, said on CNN Monday that there’s no way to equate the attack on Awlaki, an American citizen hiding in Yemen and plotting attacks on the U.S., with enhanced interrogation techniques.
“They’re two entirely different things…. This was specifically authorized by Congress after 9/11. It's action that is taken against a declared enemy of the United States of America. I'm glad they did it. I'm glad that they will continue. In the case of 'enhanced interrogation,' i.e. torture, there are Geneva conventions and laws that prohibit it,” McCain said. “And it is very obvious that one of the great recruitment tools that our enemy has is the fact that we tortured people, which is not in keeping with the standards of the treatment of prisoners, which is a long-held custom.”
When asked directly if Obama owes an apology to Cheney or former President Bush, McCain said: “As a partisan Republican, I am a critic of the administration from time to time. But I, along with I think almost every American, congratulate the administration and congratulate the president and his team for carrying out this elimination of an avowed enemy of the United States who was bent on our destruction.”
This article appears in the October 3, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.