CNN Trump Supporter Calls Waterboarding “Putting Someone In A Bit Of Discomfort To Extract Information”

Kayleigh McEnany: “I'm Not Sure That It's Punitive So Much As Saying We Need To Be Strong”

From the June 30 edition of CNN's New Day:

Video file

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Let's talk about Mr. Trump's positions on waterboarding and torture, because that also seems to have shifted. So let's play first what he said [over] various months and then what he's saying now.


DONALD TRUMP: I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding. We're like a bunch of babies, but we're going to stay within the laws. But you know what we're going to do? We're going to have those laws broadened. They say, what do you think about waterboarding? I said I like it a lot. I don't think it's tough enough. You have to fight fire with fire.


CAMEROTA: OK, now, in between all of those, so first he said, “I like waterboarding.” Then he said, “Actually I'm going to stay between the laws.” Then he said, “I'm going to broaden the laws.” Then he said, “I like waterboarding because you fight fire with fire.” He put out this statement that said, “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law, which waterboarding would be. It is clear that as president I would be bound by laws just like all Americans, and I will meet those responsibilities.” So hard to know, Kayleigh. How do you parse what he has said?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Well, I think all of those things are consistent. He talks about expanding the law. Many would argue that's exactly what the Bush administration did with the Bybee memos, where you had the Department of Justice define enhanced interrogation methods in way that wasn't within the bounds of the laws. So I think the idea of wanting to bring back some enhanced interrogation methods, which by the way were used in a limited fashion on only three detainees and both [former CIA Director] Michael Hayden and [former Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta have praised the efficacy of these policies. I think that's all consistent. He's talking about expanding the law the same way the Bush administration did to use this only when needed in very limited circumstances to get information from detainees.

CAMEROTA: Is that how you interpreted it, Ali?

ALI VELSHI: No, and I wish Kayleigh could be around for every time Donald Trump says that, because that's the kind of specificity we need. I still don't think it's right. It's still against the law. Donald Trump said in a speech two days ago, very specifically, they behead people and we don't. Now he talks about fighting fire with fire. I hope we don't get to the point that we think beheading is OK because it's effective. We have decided that waterboarding is bad. It's against the law. We've had testimony from guys like Ali Soufan who have successfully retrieved information as an FBI agent that led to prosecution

CAMEROTA: But not through waterboarding.

VELSHI: Not through waterboarding.

CAMEROTA: I mean this is the point is that it's actually not, what the FBI director has said, Robert Mueller, is that it actually has not been effective. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and gave erroneous information.

MCENANY: But here's the thing. A lot of people would dispute that take on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, because here's the thing. He only started speaking at all after he was waterboarded that many times. And many people would say that he pointed to the importance of the courier that led us to Osama bin Laden. He didn't give the name, no, but he did highlight the importance of this man.

CAMEROTA: I think the point is that what Donald Trump is talking about is punitive. He's talking about it as punishment. They behead us, we should waterboard them, but not talking about whether it's effective for actual intelligence.

MCENANY: But I'm not sure that it's punitive so much as saying that we need to be strong. The fact that in this country we're not willing to put someone in some form of discomfort, be it sleep deprivation, which many argue is what broke KSM. To not use that mechanism or not even talk about it, not have it as a tool on the table. We are trying to thwart terrorist attacks. We don't want 49 to die in Orlando. We don't want 14 to die in San Bernardino.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

MCENANY: If it means putting someone in a bit of discomfort to extract information, I think most of the nation would say that's OK within the bounds of the law.


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