US Republican presidential hopefuls say that they will revive the use of waterboarding as a torture tactic if elected president.
“I would bring back waterboarding,” Donald Trump said when asked about CIA interrogation tactics during a debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday.
He even said he would use much tougher methods than waterboarding on suspected terrorists captured by the US.
“And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” he added.
Sen. Ted Cruz said that waterboarding is not torture, and added
“if it were necessary to, say, prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander-in-chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.”
Cruz said that torture is “excruciating pain” which results in loss of organs and systems, so waterboarding is not regarded as torture under that definition.
Waterboarding is just “enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture,” he explained.
Florida senator Marco Rubio also said he would comply with congressional restrictions on the practice, but advocated another Bush administration idea.
He said suspected foreign fighters should remain at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out.”
Senior CIA officials involved in the torture programs have stated the harsh interrogation techniques used under the George W. Bush administration did not amount to torture, because they were approved by the White House at the time.
US President Barack Obama closed down the CIA program when he came to office in 2009.
Torture is illegal under US laws, but Obama has been reluctant to prosecute senior officials who were responsible.
The so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA after the 9/11 attacks included waterboarding, slamming prisoners against a wall, forcing detainees into small boxes and prolonged sleep deprivation.