Friday, February 23, 2018

Will Trump Order the Military to Start Torturing Detainees?

Defense Secretary James Mattis gave that written answer to Congress when he was being confirmed. This is the only real clear indication where the Trump White House "officially" stands on the issue as to whether or not we are going to go back to the early Bush years and torture detainees. Mattis clearly does not want to revisit this policy, and is hiding behind the decision that was made in 2006 to follow the US Army's guidance on this matter.

Trump, however, has indicated over and over again, that America is going to abandon this policy and get back into the torture business. Over a year ago, this is exactly what he said:

Donald Trump has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”

Speaking to ABC News, Trump said he would defer to the defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of terrorism.

But asked about the efficacy of tactics such as waterboarding, Trump said: “absolutely I feel it works.”

“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.”

Trump said he asked intelligence chiefs earlier this week whether torture works. “The answer was yes, absolutely,” he said.

He added that terrorist groups “chop off the citizens’ or anybody’s heads in the Middle East, because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else ... we have that and we’re not allowed to do anything. We’re not playing on an even field.”

The interviews come after reports that Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that would reinstate the detention of terrorism suspects at facilities known as “black sites”.

For the record, no--torture does not work.

I'm curious why we haven't heard any stories about what we are actually doing and what's really going on. If you're thinking of things that haven't popped up in a while, it would be stories like this, this, and this.

Given all of the other nightmarish policies being carried out on Trump's orders, I think this issue has disappeared as an imminent concern. Clearly, Trump's base would love it if we got back into the torture business. There would be a tremendous effort to gaslight the country and convince people that it "saved" lives if there was ever a scandalous release of details about torture being carried out by US entities. 

Everyone is talking about everything except torture. What's being done right now in our name? What's happening in far-off places? Trump wanted to bring back waterboarding and black sites. To him, this makes us look "tough." 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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