White House aide jokes of 'dying' McCain

Don't these White House aides know that anything they say, in confidence or otherwise, will leak and be used against their boss by the media?

Senator John McCain, who is in the final stage of his terminal brain cancer, issued a statement on Wednesday urging the Senate to vote against the nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA.  McCain objects to Haspel's connection to the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program during the Bush administration.

During a meeting of top White House aides yesterday, Kelly Sadler responded to McCain's opposition by joking that "he's dying anyway," which set off a firestorm of condemnation from the usual suspects.


Asked about Sadler's comment, a White House official said, "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."

Sadler called the senator's daughter Meghan McCain on Thursday to apologize for the remark, a source close to the situation told CNN, although it's unclear what her response was. ...

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close friend of John McCain, said of the White House aide's comment, "Ms. Sadler, may I remind you that John McCain has a lot of friends in the United States Senate on both sides of the aisle.  Nobody is laughing in the Senate."

Sadler's remark about the Arizona Republican echoed Trump's remark at the outset of his campaign for president, when he mocked McCain's time as a prisoner of war by saying, "I like people that weren't captured."

The remark was insensitive and hurtful to McCain's family and friends.  It was also in poor taste.  But it's hardly a capital offense.  Far worse were remarks by retired Air Force lt. gen. Thomas McInerney on Fox News, who defended the use of torture against terrorist suspects.  "The fact is, is John McCain – it worked on John.  That's why they call him 'Songbird John.'"

McCain didn't "sing" during his captivity

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.

Sadler spoke without thinking, which all of us do from time to time.  But she and all White House aides have got to understand that anything that reflects badly on the administration will be leaked by someone and they should govern their tongues far more judiciously.