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US 'Will Not Torture People,' McCain Insists

FILE - Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pictured after posting a primary election victory in his home state, Aug. 30, 2016, says torturing suspects would cost the U.S. its ability to claim moral superiority in the fight against terrorism.

The U.S. "will not torture people," Republican Senator John McCain told an audience at a security forum Saturday, adding that he didn't care what stance President-elect Donald Trump had taken on the issue.

McCain, a congressional leader on national security, was speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. Tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, he has been a strident opponent of waterboarding.

Trump said during the 2016 campaign and at a Republican primary debate in February that he "liked" waterboarding and that, as president, he would "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

Waterboarding, which simulates drowning, was used against suspected terrorists in the early 2000s during the George W. Bush administration. Congress banned the use of torture on detainees in 2006.

"I don't give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do. We will not waterboard," McCain said. "We will not torture people. … It doesn't work."

McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, told the audience Saturday that torture is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, and that waterboarding makes it hard for the U.S. to claim moral superiority in the world.

"What does it say about America if we're going to inflict torture on people?" he asked.

The Halifax International Security Forum attracts top defense and security officials from Western democracies to discuss a range of global threats, including terrorism, cyberattacks, climate change and economic stability.