1 of 2 | Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks on the rising gas prices at a press conference in Washington on May 2, 2006. Santorum stressed the importance of further developing cleaner energy sources, such as wind and nuclear, as well as opening up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR) for drilling. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- GOP U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Tuesday John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war, "doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works."
During an interview on Hugh Hewitt's talk show on the Salem Radio Network, Santorum, a former Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, credited so-called enhanced interrogation methods with helping the United States track down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
When Hewitt pointed out that McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and a U.S. senator from Arizona who spent years in a North Vietnamese prison camp during the Vietnam War, has said there is no such evidence, Santorum said everything he has read shows the trail to bin Laden began with "information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation."
"And so this idea that we didn't ask that question while Khalid Sheik Mohammed was being waterboarded, he [McCain] doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works," Santorum said. "I mean, you break somebody, and after they're broken, they become cooperative. And that's when we got this information.
"Maybe McCain has better information than I do, but from what I've seen, it seems pretty clear that but for these cooperative witnesses who were cooperative as a result of enhanced interrogations, we would not have gotten bin Laden."
McCain aide Mark Salter responded on Facebook, saying, "For pure, blind stupidity, nobody beats Santorum. In my 20 years in the Senate, I never met a dumber member, which he reminded me of today," MSNBC reported.
Santorum also gave Democratic President Barack Obama little credit for achieving the U.S. goal of getting bin Laden, saying all he did was say "yes" to the unanimous recommendations that the raid be conducted.
"So no, I think when it comes to protecting the United States, and putting together a strategic plan that does so, the president is a failure, and continues to fail," Santorum said.
Santorum also said Obama should admit he was "wrong" and look for ways to employ enhanced interrogation methods in the future.
Santorum also attacked Obama on foreign policy, saying he "is not a supporter of Israel." He said "enemies of the United States all over the world" have been "emboldened by the fact that the United States has been less supportive of Israel, and so they're pushing."
Santorum also said Obama has done "a horrible job in protecting America's interests" as things have played out in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran.