Tuesday, November 22, 2016
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to bring back waterboarding. Indeed, he promised to bring back much worse. In apparant disregard of the Convention Against Torture, Trump proclaimed "I would approve more than that. It works."
The G. W. Bush administration has a sordid history with waterboarding and other forms of torture. While the administration sought to distance itself from torture decisions, recent information reveals that Bush was more than aware of the waterboarding use.
According to an earlier report on NPR, the torture report points to a document prepared in September 2006, the same month Bush publicly acknowledged the U.S. was holding detainees in secret prisons. It was intended as a Q&A to help the National Security Council principals deal with fallout of public disclosure. One question asked, "What role did the president play... Was he briefed on the interrogation techniques, and if so when?"
The answer: "President was not of course involved in CIA's day to day operations — including who should be held by CIA and how they should be questioned — these decisions are made or overseen by CIA directors."
In his book Bush, Jean Edward Smith chillingly reports that not only was Bush aware of the use of waterboarding, he directly ordered its first use.
"Senator McCain, a victim of torture during his 5 ½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, along with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) led a successful bipartisan landmark anti-torture legislation that reinforces the United States’ ban on the use of torture, including waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The legislation—which passed in a 78-21 vote in the Senate and was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2016 Fiscal Year—was an historic victory in the fight to reestablish a durable, bipartisan consensus against torture."
In a late breaking report, the New York Times reveals that Trump today claimed that Retired General Matis convinced Trump that water boarding is ineffective.
We will see if the new administration, as well as Congress, will leave the anti-torture provisions intact.