Trump: Revive waterboarding, enhanced interrogation

Referring to modern times as “evil” and requiring firm countermeasures to blunt ISIS brutality, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to return waterboarding and similar interrogation methods to the intelligence community’s repository if elected president.

During his appearance on ABC’s This Week, Trump specifically stated he would authorize torture and re-classify the technique to fit within the accepted realm of the treatment of captives if necessary.

When host George Stephanopoulos directed the conversation to the previous evening’s debate, Trump repeated his stance he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding if he occupied the White House.

“We’re like living in medieval times.  If I have to do it and if it’s up to me, I would absolutely bring back waterboarding. And if it’s going to be tougher than waterboarding, I would bring that back, too,” Trump averred.

Citing ISIS’ macabre instincts and underlining the beheadings of Western captives, Christians and journalist James Foley pointedly, This Week host, George Stephanopoulos, urged Trump to illuminate his position by asking “if we’re going to chop off heads”, to which Trump responded:

“We’re going to do things beyond waterboarding.  Perhaps, if that happens to come . . . When you have conditions like that, I would absolutely.  I would approve waterboarding and if you go beyond it, I’m okay with that.”

Banned by the Obama Administration, waterboarding is a non-lethal interrogation technique where water is poured over the subject’s face to simulate drowning.

Watch the full ABC News interview here:

 

Analysis

Returning to the national consciousness, conversation regarding waterboarding is certain to be accompanied by critical analysis of past and existing policy associated with the War on Terror.

The focus of waterboarding almost exclusively revolves around vital and applicable matters relating to morality, law, terrorism, war and the conflicts with which one is confronted when entrusted with the obligation to protect the United States.

Critics charge the ban on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) has eliminated an effective device to extract crucial information from those inveterately hostile to American interests and seek to inflict monstrous harm on the country.

Opponents of EIT often travel under the banner the methods are “not consistent with our values” or, as President Obama says, “it’s not who we are.”  Similarly, those same voices frequently bellow on the illegality and inhumanity of the indefinite detainment of terror suspects in U.S. custody.

The dilemma of negotiating through these murky waters leaves policymakers in the unenviable position of reconciliation of waterboarding with current anti-terror strategy.

Let’s prescribe up front:  There are strong moral and practical reasons to oppose waterboarding.

Under current law, it is entirely legal for the U.S. to order the killing of one of its citizen if said individual is determined to be among the senior leadership of al-Qaeda or associated groups, even if no accurate intelligence exists demonstrating they are engaged in anti-American terror plots.

Unlike the tactics harnessed by terror groups, beheadings, the demolition of captives in vehicles or drowning victims in cages submerged in a pool, often captured on film, waterboarding does not inflict injury.  In contrast, our sworn enemies frequently resort to inserting gadgets into the body, connecting electrodes to sensitive body parts, withhold vital medical treatment, food and water, or tying a prisoner to a rack and dispensing abuse.

Therein lies the dilemma:  Appointing waterboarding as a moral obscenity but accepting drone strikes or the assassination of Osama bin-Laden as entirely acceptable methods to deter jihadist swine paves the way wide for a legitimate charge of moral hypocrisy at the Obama Administration.

Apparently, some of the most vocal opponents of waterboarding and indefinite detention find themselves altogether unburdened with the deaths of hundreds from drone strikes or the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, a fugitive from justice.

Those who are brisk to indict the U.S. for a solitary technique to extract high-priority information from a handful of terror suspects are often overwrought critics attempting to posture themselves as sensible people vying to arrive at a moral equivalency between a defender of virtue, America, and those who are attempting to destroy virtue, Islamic jihadists.

Worthy of further examination, anti-terror policy should either include waterboarding or a ban on drone strikes and assassinations.

 

[Reuters] [Photo courtesy CNBC]