While discussing the possible prosecution of Bush administration officials over interrogation methods used against terror suspects, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Senator John McCain: "You fought a long battle with the [Bush] White House over this issue, said they ought to follow the Army manual, which the -- the White House refused to...Why do you feel so strongly that those who helped create this policy should not face some sort of recrimination?"
McCain explained his opposition to what he called a "witch hunt": "Because I think, Harry, if you legal -- if you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive...this is going to turn into a witch hunt."
Smith followed up by wondering: "...were the legal experts, were the people from the Justice Department who made these findings, did they find -- did they make the decisions they made because they -- these were the decisions the leadership -- that the White House wanted made?" McCain replied: "There's no evidence that I have seen that indicates that they didn't give their most candid advice. And, look, in banana republics they prosecute people for actions they didn't agree with under previous administrations... to go back on a witch hunt that could last for a year or so, frankly, is going to be bad for the country, bad for future presidents -- precedents that may be set by this, and certainly nonproductive in trying to pursue the challenges we face."
On Wednesday, Smith implied that the Bush administration’s use of tough interrogation tactics led to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal: "Is there a line? Do you see that there is a lining run -- that goes from 2002 to Abu Ghraib to the hundreds of times waterboards were used in these cases of these few CIA cases?"