In an interview with ABC News that will air on Wednesday evening, Trump returned to a campaign pledge he had previously backed away from: to not only lift the ban on torture, but encourage its use. In the interview, Trump reportedly told ABC that “absolutely I feel [torture] works” and that the U.S. must “fight fire with fire” when dealing with ISIS.
Trump’s statement puts him at odds with his own secretary of defense, James Mattis, who banned torture from a Marine-run prison in Iraq and court-martialed Marines who had tortured inmates. Mattis had previously swayed Trump against torture by saying, “Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.” The Torture Report conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence also conclusively found that the use of torture post-9/11 was not effective.
Of course, Trump likes torture not because it’s effective but because it’s reactionary. Speaking about waterboarding at a rally, Trump said, “If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”
But the efficacy of torture is beside the point. Torture is morally horrible and antithetical to human rights. Thankfully, torture is now against U.S. law, as Senator Mark Warner pointed out in a statement. But we all know what Trump thinks of U.S. law.