The Donald Trump torture position – as reported by The Associated Press – has once again shifted. In a recent statement made by the current resident of the White House during an interview with ABC News, he insisted – despite all evidence to the contrary – that torture “absolutely works.”
Most military and security experts agree that waterboarding has made more terrorists than it has stopped. After all, it’s the ultimate propaganda tool for terrorist organizations looking for recruits.
And logically, if an innocent individual is not motivated to be a terrorist before waterboarding, they probably are afterward. Indeed, the following is according to the U.S. Army manual on the subject of torture.
“Torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is never a morally permissible option, even if lives depend on gaining information… Lose moral legitimacy, lose the war.”
More than this, information acquired from torture is notoriously unreliable. As Dustin Hoffman demonstrated so effectively in the dentistry scene in Marathon Man, even people who don’t know the answer to the question will say anything they think their torturer wants to hear to make it stop.
Despite this obvious fact, Donald Trump seems to be extremely enthusiastic about the concept of torturing people, making baseless claims about its effectiveness. During his presidential campaign, Trump suggested that we should torture prisoners even if it isn’t effective in extracting information – since they “deserve it.”
Of course, that presupposes the guilt of the alleged terrorist in question. Trump put it as follows.
“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? As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire.”
It seems clear that for Donald Trump, the idea that the United States should hold itself to a higher standard than its enemies gets lost in translation. Of course, had Donald Trump ever served in the military and been tortured for years like Senator John McCain, he might have a different perspective on the issue.
Instead, Trump’s understanding of the future Arizona Senator’s own capture and torture is best revealed by his statement about McCain, in which he said the following.
“He’s not a war hero…He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
As noted by Live Science, the current Commander in Chief of the United States military never had to fear facing such a situation. Trump got one of his multiple draft deferments from Vietnam because he was suffering from the torture of easily removable heel spurs.
Even General James “Mad Dog” Mattis – Donald Trump’s chosen Secretary of Defense and hardly a pacifistic liberal – has made it clear that he entirely opposes the idea of torturing prisoners, stating the following to Trump during a meeting.
“Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.”
But as noted by NBC News, Mike Pompeo – during his confirmation hearing as CIA director – made it quite clear in his written statement that he might be open to the idea of bringing back waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, in keeping with the Donald Trump torture position. This is why a number of Democrats opposed his confirmation.
— POLITICO (@politico) January 26, 2017
Under current United States law, interrogations of prisoners have to conform to the limitations laid out by the U.S. Army manual. But if the contents of the manual are changed – as Pompeo suggested – then these limitations become meaningless. And given that Republicans in the Senate and House are unlikely to oppose such changes, the Donald Trump torture proposals may well be implemented.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]