One rather odd aspect of reports that Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown had said he would support waterboarding of suspected terrorists was that none of the stories I looked at — from the Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the Associated Press — quoted Brown directly.
Michael Pahre noted that shortcoming in the comments. And though the AP did quote Brown in a story earlier today on a Senate debate sponsored by WTKK Radio (96.9 FM), I still wanted to hear from the Brown campaign myself.
This afternoon I talked with Brown campaign spokesman Felix Browne, who told me that Brown did not consider waterboarding to be torture. “He believes waterboarding is an enhanced-interrogation technique,” Browne said. “It’s hard, but it’s not torture. He does not believe that it’s torture.”
Browne also said he was pretty sure Brown had not discussed his position with U.S. Sen. John McCain, a staunch opponent of waterboarding who endorsed Brown earlier this week. “Obviously Sen. McCain and Sen. Brown are two different individuals,” Browne said.
And there I thought the matter would rest — except that, when I sought to clarify whether Sen. Brown would support waterboarding terrorism suspects, spokesman Browne realized he wasn’t entirely sure. So I put off writing this until he’d had a chance to check. Early this evening he e-mailed me this:
Waterboarding has been banned by executive order of the President. It would be up to the President to reauthorize its use. Scott Brown would support the President in whatever he decides.
Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley, for her part, used the WTKK debate to clarify her own opposition to waterboarding, as I noted in an update to my earlier item.
All that’s remaining is to hear from McCain — who, as I pointed out earlier, doesn’t just oppose waterboarding, but has gone out of his way to label it as torture, and to emphasize that U.S. forces actually executed Japanese officials at the end of World War II for waterboarding American prisoners.
This is no mere difference of opinion. McCain must choose between his endorsement of Brown and his moral revulsion over a practice regarded almost universally as torture. Will someone please put the question to him?