Hopeful says he can make U.S. safe

S.C. Adjutant General Stan Spears, who leads the state's National Guard, released a list of more than 100 retired admirals and generals Saturday who believe U.S. Sen. John McCain should be the next president.

Spears and a handful of the high-ranking military officers joined the Arizona Republican at the Charleston Courtyard in the South Carolina State Museum to profess their support.

Rear Adm. Bob Shumaker of Fairfax, Va., a prisoner of war for eight years during the Vietnam War, said that to him no issue in the 2008 election is greater than the country's security.

"Of all the candidates, he has the military experience, the legislative background and the guts and courage," Shumaker said of McCain.

McCain, who also was a Vietnam prisoner of war, has largely focused his second White House bid on the war in Iraq. He revealed a few specifics of this national security plans Saturday, including creating an Army Advisory Corps of 20,000 soldiers to partner with foreign militaries and promote the study of languages, such as Arabic and Chinese at civilian and military schools.

Additionally, he said, he wants the country to educate a "new group of strategic interrogators so that we never have to feel motivated to torture anyone ever again." He would set up a new agency patterned after the former Office of Strategic Services, a "nimble" organization designed to fight terrorism.

"I can make America safe and ensure her future greatness," McCain said.

Earlier this month, the CIA announced that it had destroyed video of the use of harsh interrogation tactics on two terrorism suspects.

McCain said he had no knowledge of the use of U.S. torture techniques but that destroying the tapes contributes to "cynicism" and "skepticism." He also recalled a meeting he had an with a former high-ranking member of al-Qaida who, McCain said, told him that incidents at Abu Ghraib helped the Islamic militant organization's recruitment.