A retired general and Fox Business Network guest argued Thursday that torture works on detainees, and as proof cited the example of one of its principal opponents — Sen. John McCain.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney went further though than criticizing the Arizona Republican’s opposition to confirming Gina Haspel as CIA director. He also called the Vietnam-era POW as “Songbird John,” a word choice that prompted FBN host Charles Payne to apologize to Mr. McCain.

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“The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John,'” Lt. Gen. McInerney said in an appearance.

Mr. McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese when his Navy jet was shot down and held as a prisoner. His guards at the “Hanoi Hilton” tied him with ropes and beat him every two hours even though he was suffering from dysentery and had been injured in his plane’s crash.

Mr. McCain eventually signed a confession to being “a black criminal” and an “air pirate,” though it didn’t end the beatings because he refused to sign more confessions. He said years later: “I had learned what we all learned over there: every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.”

That proves torture works, Lt. Gen. McInerney said Thursday.

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“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 said.

Mr. Payne said he did not hear the “Songbird John” epithet and apologized later on Twitter for the “very false” and “derogatory” comments of his guest.

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

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