Last updated on: 3/10/2016 2:11:42 PM PST
Should Interrogation Techniques That Some Consider Torture, Such as Waterboarding, Be a Legal Option?
"[George Stephanopoulos:] Do you think we should bring back enhanced interrogation like waterboarding?
[Donald Trump:] Well, we have to be strong. You know, they don't use waterboarding over there. They use chopping off people's heads. They use drowning people. I don't know if you’ve seen with the cages where they put people in cages and they drown them in the ocean and then they lift out the cage. And we're talking about waterboarding. We have to be tough. We have to be...
[George Stephanopoulos:] So you would bring back waterboarding?
[Donald Trump:] I would bring it back, yes. I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us. What they're doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head, that's a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation."
Source: ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript: Donald Trump and Ben Carson," abcnewsgo.com, Nov. 22, 2015
"Today we can say again in a loud and clear voice, the United States should never condone or practice torture anywhere in the world...
America is at our best when our actions match our values...
Yes, the threat of terrorism is real and urgent, scores of children were just murdered in Pakistan, beheadings in the Middle East, a siege in Sydney, these tragedies not only break hearts but should steel our resolve and underscore that our values are what set us apart from our adversaries."
Source: Shushannah Walshe, “Hillary Clinton Speaks out against U.S. Use of Torture,” abcnews.go.com, Dec. 17, 2014
"Torture and the practice of detainment without being charged are practices that need to stop."
Source: Gary Johnson, "I Am Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Candidate for President. AMA [Ask Me Anything]," reddit.com, Sep. 11, 2012
"We need a foreign policy based on international law, human rights, and diplomacy, instead of militarism. Our current foreign policy has been an outright incredible disaster. Drones and torture have especially been damaging."
Source: Green Party Videos, "Jill Stein Green Party State of the Union Response 2015," youtube.com, Jan. 21, 2015
(Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria
appear below in black and white and in alphabetical order.)
"[Chris] CHRISTIE: We should do whatever we need to do to get actionable intelligence that’s within the Constitution.
[Joe] SCARBOROUGH: Is that [waterboarding] torture?
CHRISTIE: I don't believe so. I don't believe so. And I will tell you that the intelligence officers who conducted that activity were told by the Justice Department that what they were doing was lawful and constitutional. And then you have Barack Obama come in, and Hillary Clinton, and second-guess these people, demean them, and kill their morale. These are people doing a dangerous job in a dirty world, and we need to support them because they are the first line of defense between us and ISIS, between us and al Qaeda. And if you're sitting in the basement of the Senate, you don’t understand that."
Source: Simon Maloy, "Chris Christie Joins the Torture Caucus: Another 2016 Hopeful Wants to Bring Back Waterboarding," salon.com, Dec. 2, 2015
"[Muir] So Senator Cruz, you have said, quote, ‘torture is wrong, unambiguously, period. Civilized nations do not engage in torture.’ Some of the other candidates say they don't think waterboarding is torture. Mr. Trump has said, I would bring it back. Senator Cruz, is waterboarding torture?
[Editor's Note: On June 16, 2015 Senator Cruz voted in favor of S.Amdt.1889 to "reaffirm the prohibition on torture."]
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 under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.
MUIR: If elected president, would you bring it back?
CRUZ: I would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use. And indeed, I joined with Senator McCain in legislation that would prohibit line officers from employing it because I think bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels.
But when it comes to keeping this country safe, the commander in chief has inherent constitutional authority to keep this country safe. And so, if it were necessary to, say, prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe."
Source: Team Fix, "Transcript of the New Hampshire GOP Debate, Annotated," washingtonpost.com, Feb. 6, 2016
"I believe that all of the evidence is very clear -- that waterboarding was used in a very small handful of cases [and] was supervised by medical personnel in every one of those cases. And I also believe that waterboarding was used when there was no other way to get information that was necessary."
Source: Michael Isikoff, "Carly Fiorina Defends Bush-Era Torture and Spying, Calls for More Transparency," yahoo.com, Sep. 28, 2015
"I believe in the Detainee Treatment Act, I believe the Geneva Convention applies, and every agency of the government has to comply with the laws that exist. I don't like having the Army Field Manual being the only way you can interrogate a prisoner.
[Editor's Note: On June 16, 2015 Senator Graham voted against S.Amdt.1889 to "reaffirm the prohibition on torture."]
I don't like advertising to the enemy everything we're going to do, so having a classified enhanced interrogation program that's compliant with the treaties and laws of the country is what I want. And that would exclude torture."
Source: Ali Watkins, "Here's Where 2016 GOP Hopefuls Came down on Torture," www.huffingtonpost.com, June, 16, 2015
"There is seemingly a virtual unanimous understanding among recent Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as from other military experts, that torture is simply an ineffective way of extracting information that is useful... What we don't get is reliable information. What we do get is a very challenged soldier who has participated in something that goes against not only his or her own moral code, but against our own sense of justice in this country."
Source: Ari Shapiro, "GOP Presidential Hopefuls Disagree on Torture," www.npr.org, Dec. 4, 2007
"The United States does not torture and should not torture... Our long-term security interests are not advanced by engaging in torture and the sort of behavior that runs totally contrary to everything we're about as a people.
We have considerable powers... but we should exercise those powers consistent with those principles. And when we exercise them in contradiction of those principles, when we torture detainees, we engage in reprehensible behavior. And it is that behavior that makes the United States more vulnerable to attack, and that sort of behavior which makes it harder for the United States to lead coalitions and to build coalitions.
I don't believe the United States should torture. Period. Full stop."
Source: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "On Torture, O’Malley Stands to the Left of Clinton," Dec. 20, 2014
"I'm opposed to torture, and I think our country should have a higher ideal than that, and I would oppose it... it is part of our Army manual not to do it, we just don't pay attention to our own rules. I think that torture is always wrong and it shouldn't be performed."
[Editor's Note: On June 16, 2015 Senator Paul voted in favor of S.Amdt.1889 to "reaffirm the prohibition on torture."]
Source: Rand Paul, "Scott Horton Interviews Dr. Rand Paul Part 2," youtube.com, May 18, 2009
"Of course we must aggressively pursue international terrorists who would do us harm, but we must do so in a way that is consistent with the basic respect for human rights which makes us proud to be Americans.
[Editor's Note: On June 16, 2015 Senator Sanders voted in favor of S.Amdt.1889 to "reaffirm the prohibition on torture."]
The United States must not engage in torture. If we do, in an increasingly brutal world we lose our moral standing to condemn other nations or groups that engage in uncivilized behavior."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "Sanders Statement on CIA Report," sanders.senate.gov, Dec. 9, 2014
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"[Moderator] Do you believe that the CIA engaged in torture, by the common definition, and would you bring those techniques back under any circumstances as President?
[Jeb Bush] I don't want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement… I'm cautious about making commitments without having all the facts because this is a serious undertaking.
I do think in general that torture is not appropriate, it's not as effective, and the change of policy that my brother did [President George W. Bush], and then was put into executive order form by the President [Obama] was the proper thing to do. I also would say that right after 9/11, I mean, we were attacked, and, uh, my presid — my brother — and I'm not saying this because I'm a Bush, I'm saying this because I love this country just like everybody in this room — I'm proud of what he did to create a secure environment for our country."
Source: Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, "National Security Forum with Jeb Bush – Iowa," peaceprosperitysecurity.org, Aug. 13, 2015
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"STEPHANOPOULOS: ...And I do want to get your response to some of the things we've talked about with Donald Trump on how to respond to ISIS.
Number one, he said we should bring back those enhanced interrogation techniques, which President Obama discontinued like waterboarding. Do you agree?
CARSON: I agree that there's no such thing as political correctness when you're fighting an enemy who wants to destroy you and everything that you have anything to do with. And I'm not one who is real big on telling the enemy what we're going to do and what we're not going to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you would do that even though many consider waterboarding torture?
CARSON: As I said, I'm not real big on telling them what we would or would not do. I just don't think that's a -- I don't see where that accomplishes anything for us."
Source: ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript: Donald Trump and Ben Carson," abcnews.go.com, Nov. 22, 2015
No position found as of Dec. 7, 2015
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"I do not support telegraphing to the enemy what interrogation techniques we will or won't use, and denying future commanders in chief and intelligence officials important tools for protecting the American people and the U.S. homeland…
[Editor's Note: On June 16, 2015 Senator Rubio abstained from the vote on S.Amdt.1889 to "reaffirm the prohibition on torture."]
I would have voted 'no' on this amendment [S.Amdt.1889 to 'reaffirm the prohibition on torture.']."
Source: Alex Rogers, "Another 2016 GOP Fault Line: Torture," nationaljournal.com, June 16, 2015