(Newsy) She had a tough nomination and confirmation process.
(Newsy) She had a tough nomination and confirmation process.
After he was criticized for claiming that he could force the United States military to break the current law banning torture methods like waterboarding, Donald Trump backtracked his comments and said instead that he would like to change the laws to include waterboarding “at a minimum.”
Trump has been vocal in the past regarding the issue of how to deal with suspected terrorists, and in December he said that not only should the U.S. target terrorists, but also their families.
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump said. “They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
Trump has also voiced support for bringing back waterboarding. In November, he said, “I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us.”
When asked about his stance on waterboarding at a GOP debate in February, Trump said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” because in the Middle East, “we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people.”
In response to Trump’s comments, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said that Trump’s plans to target the families of terrorists, and to bring back “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are “worse than waterboarding,” would result in the American armed forces refusing to act.
“[U.S. military personnel] are not required — in fact you are required not to follow an unlawful order,” Hayden said. “That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict.”
During a GOP debate Thursday, Fox News Host Bret Baier asked Trump what he would do if the military “refused to carry out” his orders.
“They won’t refuse,” Trump replied. “They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.”
“But they’re illegal,” Baier said.
Trump said he wants to bring back waterboarding because members of ISIS are “chopping off the heads of Christians” and “drowning people in steel cages.” He also said he justifies targeting the families of terrorists, because in the case of the terrorists hijacking airplanes on 9/11, their families “knew what was happening.”
When Baier questioned Trump’s suggestion to “target” the families of terrorists, Trump responded, “I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.”
Trump then released a statement to The Wall Street Journal on Friday claiming that he “will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws.”
[pull_quote_center]I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.[/pull_quote_center]
On an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, which aired Sunday, host John Dickerson asked Trump what made him change his position on the issue.
Trump claimed he wasn’t asked about “violating laws,” and said that because the U.S. has “an enemy that doesn’t play by the laws,” that enemy is “laughing at us right now.”
“I would like to strengthen the laws so that we can better compete,” Trump said. “It’s very tough to beat enemies that don’t have any restrictions, all right? We have these massive restrictions.”
Dickerson questioned how Trump would go about expanding the law, and Trump said he wants waterboarding to be allowed “at a minimum.”
“I happen to think that when you’re fighting an enemy that chops off heads, I happen to think that we should use something that is stronger than we have right now,” Trump said. “Right now, basically water-boarding is essentially not allowed, as I understand it.”
When asked why waterboarding has been banned, Trump said he believes it is because the U.S. is weak. “I think we have become very weak and ineffective,” he explained. “I think that’s why we’re not beating ISIS. It’s that mentality.”
[pull_quote_center]I think we’re weak. We cannot beat ISIS. We should beat ISIS very quickly. General Patton would have had ISIS down in about three days. General Douglas MacArthur — we are playing by a different set of rules. We are — let me just put it differently. When the ISIS people chop off the heads, and then they go back to their homes and they talk, and they hear we’re talking about water-boarding like it’s the worst thing in the world, and they just drowned a hundred people and chopped off 50 heads, they must think we are a little bit on the weak side.[/pull_quote_center]
Trump claimed that he wants to bring back waterboarding because while the U.S. is “playing by rules,” ISIS has no rules.
Dickerson questioned whether the current rules were what “separates us from the savages.”
Trump insisted that “we have to beat the savages,” and he said that could only be done if the U.S. will “play the game the way they’re playing the game.”
[pull_quote_center]Look, you have to play the game the way they’re playing the game. You’re not going to win if we are soft, and they are — they have no rules. Now, I want to stay within the laws. I want to do all of that. But I think we have to increase the laws, because the laws are not working, obviously. All you have to do is take a look what is going on. And they’re getting worse. They’re chopping, chopping, chopping, and we’re worried about waterboarding. I think our priorities are mixed up.[/pull_quote_center]
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Seven of the remaining GOP candidates participated in a debate hosted by ABC News in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday, and when asked about waterboarding and other methods of torture used by the CIA, several candidates voiced their support.
The topic came up when moderator David Muir noted a comment Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made in Dec. 2014, when discussing the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the forms of torture used by the CIA on suspected terrorists after 9/11.
Muir noted that at the time Cruz said, “Torture is wrong, unambiguously, period. Civilized nations do not engage in torture,” and then Muir asked if Cruz would classify waterboarding as torture.
Cruz said that “under the definition of torture,” waterboarding would be classified as “enhanced interrogation,” due to the fact that it is not “excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and system.”
[pull_quote_center]Well, under the definition of torture, no, it’s not. Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.[/pull_quote_center]
When asked if he would bring back waterboarding as president, Cruz said he would not bring it back “in any sort of widespread use,” but that if it were necessary to “prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack,” he would “use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.”
[pull_quote_center]I would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use. And indeed, I joined with Senator McCain in legislation that would prohibit line officers from employing it because I think bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels. But when it comes to keeping this country safe, the commander in chief has inherent constitutional authority to keep this country safe. And so, if it were necessary to, say, prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.[/pull_quote_center]
Trump shared a similar sentiment at the debate and said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” because in the Middle East, “we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people.”
[pull_quote_center]We have things that we have never seen before— as a group, we have never seen before, what’s happening right now. The medieval times— I mean, we studied medieval times— not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.[/pull_quote_center]
While former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he wouldn’t bring waterboarding back, he also said he believes the United States needs to expand its “intelligence capabilities,” and he said he believes closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay would be a “complete disaster.”
[pull_quote_center]Congress has changed the laws, and I think where we stand is the appropriate place. But what we need to do is to make sure that we expand our intelligence capabilities. The idea that we’re going to solve this fight with predator drones, killing people somehow is more acceptable than capturing them, securing the information. This is why closing Guantanamo is a complete disaster.[/pull_quote_center]
When asked if he believes waterboarding is torture, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he that when people “talk about interrogating terrorists” they acts as if “this is some sort of law enforcement function,” when instead it is “anti-terrorism.”
[pull_quote_center]When people talk about interrogating terrorists, they’re acting like this is some sort of law enforcement function. Law enforcement is about gathering evidence to take someone to trial, and convict them. Anti-terrorism is about finding out information to prevent a future attack so the same tactics do not apply.[/pull_quote_center]
Rubio also said he believes they should not be discussing “in a widespread way the exact tactics that we’re going to use,” because that could allow “terrorist(s) to know to practice how to evade us,” and he went on to criticize the release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
[pull_quote_center]Here’s the bigger problem with all this, we’re not interrogating anybody right now. Guantanamo’s being emptied by this president. We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out, and we shouldn’t be releasing these killers who are rejoining the battlefield against the United States.[/pull_quote_center]
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The U.S. Senate has voted to outlaw a number of forms of torture, used by the CIA and U.S. military while interrogating suspects. Under the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, forms of torture, including waterboarding, “rectal feeding,” mock executions, hooding prisoners, and sexual humiliation would be illegal.
By a vote of 78 to 21, the Senate agreed on an amendment to the NDAA that limits the US government to interrogation and detention rules delineated in the US Army Field Manual. The amendment also requires that US officials immediately notify the International Red Cross in the event of an individual taken into US custody or control.
The amendment comes after late last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 6,000 page report, five years in the making, on post-911 torture techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, which examined the contents of six million internal CIA documents. According to The New York Times, the report noted that the CIA often misled congressional and White House officials about the effectiveness of the techniques that were being used, the level of brutality of those techniques, and what information the techniques actually produced.
Based on twenty case studies examined in the report, investigators concluded that enhanced interrogation techniques were not as effective as less brutal methods when it came to providing useful information that could be used to stop a terror plot.
The NDAA amendment was introduced last week by Republican Sen. John McCain and is co-sponsored by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, the former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Below, Sen. McCain explains his reasoning behind the amendment in which he says, “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”
The US House must now vote on the amendment within the larger defense authorization bill, which sets budget and expenditure limits for the US Department of Defense.
After the release of the CIA Torture Report, many politicians are defending the report or analyzing the results, but the American public seems unchanged from the findings. In fact, many Americans are alright with torture and have not bothered by torture for some years.
A 2009 Pew Research poll found 71 percent of Americans were fine with torture on some level as long as it was justified by obtaining important information which could save American lives or similar reasons.
A similar study in 2012 by YouGov yielded similar results. And more recently, Amnesty International published a study in early 2014 showing the U.S. is the most supportive western country of the use of torture against those deemed enemies.
Now, CBS held a poll in the wake of the release of the torture report showing 57 percent of those polled think the tactics outlined in the report had extracted reliable and important information. Some of the tactics mentioned in the report were waterboarding, forcing a prisoner to stay awake for 18 hours, threatening sexual abuse against the prisoners family, and forced ice water baths.
The poll also found 57 percent of Americans believed the CIA when they said these torture tactics were effective.
However, while many Americans believe the use of torture was a helpful asset, the committee responsible for compiling and releasing the report found, “The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” The report itself also says the effectiveness of the strategies to extract information were exaggerated.
The site Hot Air points out this should not be a surprise though. The site contends the rise of ISIS has many Americans valuing security rather than civil liberties.
On Tuesday, the United States Senate Intelligence Committee released its summary of the torture methods, or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” used by the Central Intelligence Agency on al-Qaeda hostages following the terror attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
The report, which contained details of CIA agents performing acts such as waterboarding, rectal feeding, and sleep deprivation, on the detainees, has led to questions over whether anyone will be prosecuted as a result.
Vox reported that while torture is illegal under U.S. law, any legal avenues have been closed off in this case, and thus far, “the only person the Obama administration has prosecuted in connection with the torture program is a man who revealed its existence to the media.”
According to International Business Times, John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who is “currently serving jail time on charges of espionage for speaking out against the CIA torture methods” seven years ago, was the first from the agency to “blow the whistle on the CIA torture program.”
After working for the CIA from 1990 to 2004, Kiriakou shared his knowledge of the agency’s torture methods in 2007, during an interview on ABC News.
Kiriakou discussed the account of Abu Zubaydah, the first high-profile al-Qaeda terror suspected captured after the 9/11 attacks. Zubaydah was subjected to “non-stop use of CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques 24 hours a day for 17 days,” which included the practice of waterboarding.
During the interview, Kiriakou ultimately justified the technique, saying that if they hadn’t used it, and had missed out on an important “nugget of information,” he would have had trouble forgiving himself.
In addition to revealing to the world that the U.S. had used such extreme torture methods, Kiriakou also made it clear that the CIA officers were not acting alone, and were “carefully directed” from the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, “each step of the way.”
After pleading guilty in October 2012, Kiriakou began his 30-month sentence in February 2013, for revealing the CIA’s illegal torture program, and for disclosing the fact that the program was an official policy of the U.S. government.
Prior to beginning his sentence, Kiriakou said he was “accepting responsibility” for his actions, and “hoping that maybe the country is better and more informed and more transparent” for the debate he helped to initiate.
“I believe I was prosecuted not for what I did but for who I am: a CIA officer who said torture was wrong and ineffective and went against the grain.” Kiriakou said.
An RT interview from Jan. 31st 2013: