Fox Military Guest: Torture Is Good, ‘It Worked on John McCain’

Ret. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a frequent Fox guest, made the ugly ‘Songbird’ remarks while dismissing McCain’s opposition to Trump CIA pick Gina Haspel.

Fox Business Network

According to a frequent Fox Business Network military commentator, torture is good because it worked on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

McCain, who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has been outspoken in opposing Gina Haspel, President Trump’s pro-torture nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Appearing Thursday morning on the Fox Business Network, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney took an ugly swipe at McCain for his opposition to torture, telling Varney & Co. host Charles Payne: “The fact is, is John McCain—it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’

“The fact is those methods can work, and they are effective, as former Vice President Cheney said,” McInerney continued, in a clip first spotted by Media Matters. “And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to.”

Contrary to McInerney’s claim, however, there is no evidence McCain ever gave up accurate information while being tortured in North Vietnam. In fact, the senator wrote in one of his books, “Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron.”

Experienced interrogators frequently cite that story as a demonstration of how ineffective torture is in producing reliable information.

Hours after the segment aired, Payne released a statement apologizing to the McCain family. “This morning on a show I was hosting, a guest made a very false and derogatory remark about Senator John McCain. At the time, I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment, and did not hear the comment. I regret I did not catch this remark, as it should have been challenged. As a proud military veteran and son of a Vietnam Vet these words neither reflect my or the network’s feelings about Senator McCain, or his remarkable service and sacrifice to this country.”

McInerney, once a top TV pitchman for President George W. Bush’s Iraq War, recently served as a paid analyst on Fox News. He is no longer in that position, but continues to make frequent appearances across both Fox News and Fox Business, and has a penchant for outlandish claims related to military and foreign policy.

The former number-three commander of the Air Force was a frequent source of birther conspiracies about President Obama, often suggesting he was secretly a radical Muslim.

“I feel I have an obligation to the American people to be a part of the discourse and discuss these important national security issues because they are complex, especially on radical Islam,” McInerney told The Daily Beast shortly before appearing at a 2016 Trump rally. “As a nation we have not had it. We have a president that has suppressed it.”

McInerney also infamously claimed on Fox News that missing passenger jet MH370 was actually hijacked by terrorists and flown to Pakistan to be used for jihadist activities.

More recently, in late 2017, while appearing on Fox News star Sean Hannity’s radio show, McInerney dismissed the host’s concerns about how “millions could potentially die” in a U.S. war with North Korea: “Yeah, but they’ll be mostly North Koreans,” the retired lieutenant general said.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

Correction: Fox News pointed out that McInerney has not been a paid analyst for nearly a year.