Donald Trump says senior intelligence officials have told him “torture works absolutely”, and that he would bring back banned interrogation methods like water-boarding.
In his first major television interview after he became president, Trump also told ABC News anchor David Muir that he was considering reopening the CIA’s so-called “black site” prisons – secret torture chambers around the world – that were used to detain suspects in George W Bush’s “war on terror” before they were formally shut down by Barack Obama.
While the rest of the civilized world viewed the Islamic State’s terror activities as attacks against democratic and secular values and against human freedom, Trump said the IS was attacking “Christians”- a religiously loaded observation that may have far reaching consequences.
“..They’re shooting – they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East.. As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire,” Trump said.
“I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, “Does it work? Does torture work?” And the answer was, “Yes, absolutely.”
“I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally but do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works,” Trump said.
Trump’s critics have pointed out that he risks damaging ties to the liberal allies of the USA if he brought back Bush-era anti-terror tactics like the network of overseas detention and rendition facilities and water-boarding – the process of pouring water over the face of a detainee to simulate drowning.
In 2015, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban all forms of torture in the US, putting into law an Obama executive order.
“The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America,” said Senator John McCain, a Republican who underwent torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.