Fri, Jan 27, 2017 - Page 7 News List

US president says torture works

WAR ON TERROR:When asked about waterboarding, Donald Trump said that the US needs to ‘fight fire with fire,’ given the atrocities committed by Islamic State militants


US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he believes torture works as his administration readied a sweeping review of how the US conducts the war on terror.

It includes possible resumption of banned interrogation methods and reopening CIA-run “black site” prisons outside the US.

In an interview with ABC News, Trump said he would wage war against Islamic State militants with the singular goal of keeping the US safe.

Asked about the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, Trump cited the extremist group’s atrocities against Christians and others, and said: “We have to fight fire with fire.”

Trump said he would consult with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo before authorizing any new policy.

However, he said he had asked top intelligence officials in the past day: “Does torture work?”

“And the answer was yes, absolutely,” Trump said.

He added that he wants to do “everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally.”

A clip of Trump’s interview was released after the Associated Press (AP) and other news outlets obtained copies of a draft executive order being circulated within his administration.

Beyond reviewing interrogation techniques and facilities, the draft order would instruct the Pentagon to send newly captured “enemy combatants” to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of closing the detention facility as former US president Barack Obama had wanted.

Altogether, the possible changes could mark a dramatic return to how the administration of former US president George W. Bush waged its campaign against al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.

When questioned about the draft order, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it was “not a White House document,” but would not comment further.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told MSNBC that the draft order was not written by the Trump administration.

“My understanding is this was written by somebody who worked on the transition before... This is not something the Trump administration is planning on, working on,” Ryan said.

The draft says US laws should be obeyed at all times and explicitly rejects “torture.”

However, its reconsideration of the harsh techniques banned by Obama and US Congress raises questions about the definition of the word and is sure to inflame passions in the US and abroad.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush authorized a covert program that led to dozens of detainees being held in secret locations overseas and to interrogation tactics that included sleep deprivation, slapping and slamming against walls, confinement in small boxes, prolonged isolation and even death threats.

Three detainees faced waterboarding. Many developed psychological problems.

While some former government leaders insist the program was effective in obtaining critical intelligence, many others say the abuses weakened the US’ moral standing in the world, hurt morale among intelligence officers and proved ineffective before Obama shut it down.

The AP obtained the draft order from a US official, who said it had been distributed by the White House for consultations before Trump signs it.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The Pentagon did not immediately comment and Spicer said: “I have no idea where it came from.”

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