Trump Torture Proposals Misguided, Uninformed

By Will Morrow
Contributing Writer
Last Wednesday, in an instance all too characteristic of this presidential election, Donald Trump made me question everything that I thought I knew about this country. At a campaign event in South Carolina, he asserted that if he becomes president, he will reinstate waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” saying that “torture works” in the interrogation of terrorists. He scoffed at critics of such techniques, saying “half these guys [say]: ‘torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works. Okay?”
Putting aside my personal feelings about Trump both as a candidate and as a human being, let me take a moment to reflect on this. Throughout the entire election, and during the “Summer of Trump,” I was one of the many observers thinking that Trump would eventually fizzle, or say something over-the-line that scares off his supporters. I pinched myself when he started winning primaries, while promising to build a massive wall and make México fund it, essentially by extortion. I wondered how we could even find ourselves in this situation, where a candidate for the presidency of the United States is promising to commit war crimes.
Torture has been a point of controversy for several years now because of the global War on Terror. In 2003, allegations of torture at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq came to light, depicting horrific scenes of physical and mental abuse including beatings, sensory deprivation, and humiliation. In one instance, an inmate named Manadel al-Jamadi died during an interrogation session with a CIA officer and a private contractor. By the time the scandal was resolved, 17 soldiers and officers had been relieved of duty, with 11 of them ultimately being tried in courts-martial for a litany of charges. It was an international incident that humiliated the United States government and its armed services, which is exactly what a Trump presidency symbolizes.
In addition, his assertion that “torture works” could not be further from the truth. In Dec. 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report to the public that has since been known as the “torture report.” The 6,000 page report, ultimately redacted to 525 pages, detailed the practices and policies undertaken by the CIA in its Detention and Interrogation Program, as well as the incidents of torture that took place as a result. A tremendously controversial case concerned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the famed architect of the 9/11 attacks. According to the report, KSM was waterboarded 183 times in a single month, only to yield almost no actionable intelligence. If the CIA chose to let the FBI take over and bring him to trial, KSM could have been convicted in an American court, and potentially could have been more likely to cooperate during questioning. However, they chose to forfeit that option by torturing him in exchange for no credible information.
The United States is a democracy, and its citizens are free to vote for any candidate that they choose. I’m simply asking Trump’s supporters to consider the real world implications of electing him to the most powerful position in the world before they cast their ballot in November.

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