Donald Trump’s position on waterboarding deserves a followup

 | America Blog | November 23, 2015

Donald Trump had a wild weekend. From insisting that New Jersey Muslims cheered on 9/11 (a widely-discredited rumor) to retweeting a racist meme that originated from a neo-Nazi twitter account to endorsing supporters of his who choked and repeatedly kicked a Black Lives Matter protestor at one of his rallies, it was — once again — hard to keep up with what amounted to a personified and slightly more fascist than usual Breitbart comments section.

But one of Trump’s statements in particular flew (slightly) under the radar, buried under the rest of his steaming pile of white nationalism that he’s dumped on the country since the Paris attacks. When asked on ABC’s The Week if he would bring back waterboarding, among other “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are widely classified as torture, Trump answered with an emphatic yes. As he said, quoted by Politico, “I would bring it back…I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d 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.”

Trump is far from the only Republican candidate — in both this and previous election cycles — to either endorse or refuse to rule out waterboarding, but his rationale for why he supports waterboarding suspected terrorists is new. And scary. Usually, Republican candidates (and presidents) justify waterboarding by insisting that it isn’t torture. The United States doesn’t torture, they say, but we can waterboard because it doesn’t count. It’s a matter of semantics.

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