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Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney on Thursday referred to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as "Songbird John" and said torture worked on the former POW.

McInerney, during an interview on Fox Business Network, was slamming McCain's refusal to support CIA director nominee Gina Haspel over her past work at the agency involving enhanced interrogation techniques that are considered torture.

"The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That's why they call him 'Songbird John,'" McInerney said.

"The fact is those methods can work, and they are effective, as former Vice President Cheney said. And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to," he continued.

McInerney was assistant vice chief of staff at U.S. Air Force headquarters in Washington, where he was charged with the organization and administration of the branch's personnel.

On Wednesday night, McCain implored his Senate colleagues to reject Haspel's nomination, citing her inability to address concerns with her role in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush administration at a CIA black site in Thailand.

Fox Business host Charles Payne, who invited McInerney on the air, apologized Thursday for his "very false" and "derogatory" comments.

“At the time, I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment, and did not hear the comment," Payne tweeted.

"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," he added.

McCain, a former naval aviator, spent more than five years in prison after being captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967 during the Vietnam War.

He has been a vocal critic of torture since experiencing it as a POW before his release in 1973. McCain made his announcement from his home in Arizona, where he is being treated for an aggressive form of brain cancer.


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