In this climate of GOP insanity on every issue affecting Americans, at least our military leaders have promised that they will not violate national and international laws prohibiting torture. However, Donald Trump says that he will ensure that his orders to conduct illegal torture on suspects would be followed. A well-respected expert says otherwise.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden, who also served as a four-star Air Force general and the director of the National Security Agency (explains): “If any future president wants . . . to waterboard anybody, he better bring his own bucket,”... “The American armed forces would refuse to act,” ... “You are required not to follow an unlawful order.”
Under international and U.S. law, both are grave crimes, punishable by imprisonment or, under U.S. law, death. He’s also right that military personnel have no duty to obey unlawful orders, even if they come straight from the top.
The topic of torture was addressed in last night's
dumpster fire debate. Transcript via Washington Post.
BAIER: General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists' families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they've been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.
So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?
TRUMP: They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. Believe me.
Last night he tried to out-cruel Ted Cruz, another proponent of waterboarding (if only it were 'legal'). Cruz, in the New Hampshire debate on February 6th, claimed it isn't actually torture, but it is illegal. He demonstrated the truly macabre nature of his evil psyche with this statement regarding waterboarding.
CRUZ: Well, under the definition of torture, no it's not. Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so by the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.
There's ample evidence, and Cruz has to know, that this 'enhanced' interrogation is insanely cruel and painful.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
Waterboarding is clearly an excruciatingly awful ordeal, and thus, the definition of torture needs some serious amending. But the crazy, 'poorly educated' fans of Trump can't get enough tough talk when it comes to the brown folks they are told to fear and loathe. So Donald one-ups the malevolence of Ted Cruz. He masterfully uses 9-11 to evoke rage and fear in the audience while justifying the idea of going even further than waterboarding.
TRUMP: Can you imagine -- can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we're having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That's my opinion .
BAIER: But targeting terrorists' families?
TRUMP: And -- and -- and -- I'm a leader. I'm a leader. I've always been a leader. I've never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they're going to do it. That's what leadership is all about.
BAIER: Even targeting terrorists' families?
TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going -- and I think most of you know where they went -- and, by the way, it wasn't Iraq -- but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.
He panders to the audience by rehashing the tragic fate of Flight 93 and praised the heroic passengers. This was another dig at the Bush family, aimed at twisting the knife into the GOP establishment a little more.
TRUMP: They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?
In case you were unaware, leadership now means capriciously forcing your underlings to break the law. Isn't that the definition of an autocratic tyrant? I guess electing a tyrant is just fine for Republican 'Democracy' lovers, just as long as that tyrant is a White guy.
Update: Trump changed his mind on torture. A reasonable person must have convinced him to amend his position. Or else he just saw an opportunity.
Update #2: Aaaaand, he reversed his reversal.
At a rally today in Warren, Michigan, Donald Trump once again said that he would use torture even worse than waterboarding, a stance that contradicts a statement his campaign released earlier today.
"As far as I'm concerned, waterboarding is absolutely fine but we should go much further," he said.