McCain jokes about 'waterboarding' Kerry at confirmation hearing

"We will look forward to interrogating him at his hearing next week, mercilessly. We will bring back waterboarding — for the only time — to get the truth out of him," McCain said at a press conference.

The Arizona lawmaker told reporters that he and other Senate colleagues had held "numerous conversations" with Kerry ahead of the hearing. He jokingly added that the Massachusetts senator "agrees with us completely," drawing laughter from his fellow GOP lawmakers.

President Obama officially nominated Kerry on Monday to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The president announced his selection last month, as one of his first high-profile Cabinet changes.

"As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John's played a central role in every major foreign-policy debate for three decades," said Obama during the announcement, adding "he is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training."

Despite his joke about waterboarding, McCain has been outspoken in his opposition to the George W. Bush administration’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees.

Last month, while calling for the public release of a 6,000-page report on interrogations, McCain argued that the use of those techniques did not lead to information that helped U.S. forces kill Osama bin Laden.

“We did not get any meaningful information unclassified; we did not get any meaningful information by torturing people,” McCain said.