President Donald Trump has said in the latest interview with ABC News that he believes torture works, and “we have to fight fire with fire.”
He also said that he would consult his Defense Secretary General James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo about what could be done legally to combat radicalism.
The President stated that “we’re not playing on an even field” as radical groups are beheading people in the Middle East.
The Ex-CIA Director, Leon Panetta warned that it would be a grave mistake to take a backward step on torture.
An executive order has also been signed by Mr. Trump for an “impassable physical barrier” to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico. This comes as part of the flurry of executive orders expected on national and border security this week.
The next big step expected of the President is the announcement to prohibit the entrance of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa into the United States. This could affect refugee programs. The seven countries are believed to be Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.
Coming back to torture, Mr. Trump said he wanted to keep “our country safe.”
“When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?”
He went on to say that he has consulted top intelligence on the matter, and has asked questions like “Does torture work?” and the answer he got has been in positive.
He said that he would rely on General Mattis and Pompeo and “my group.” If they want to use torture, then everything possible within the legal bounds will be seen to determine what could be done, but he also added that if they don’t want to do it, it’s fine.
Reasserting his original stance, Mr. Trump said
“Do I feel it [torture] works? Absolutely I feel it works.”
Mr. Trump hinted that he might order troops to use waterboarding and “tougher” techniques on terrorism suspects in a TV debate during the Republican presidential race, but he later softened his stance, saying that he would not break international law.
Waterboarding is an interrogation tactic in which water is poured over someone’s face to mimic drowning. It is banned in the U.S. and widely considered as a form of torture.
Mr. Panetta said that there’s no need to use enhanced interrogation techniques to get the required information. He stated that it would send a wrong message to the world and would be damaging to the U.S. image in the world. He went on to claim that people in the intelligence business believe that, General Mattis believes that, and the FBI believes that, so it would be a mistake to go back on torture.