Former CIA director David Petraeus leaves the Federal Courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 23, 2015. Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information. REUTERS/Chris Keane.
Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday he doesn’t believe President-elect Donald Trump will revive waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques.
“For what it is worth, I have publicly, as you know, for a number of years stated that enhanced interrogation techniques — whatever you want to call this — doesn’t work,” Petraeus told CNN in an interview, the Hill reports.
“It certainly doesn’t work sufficiently to justify the enormous penalties that you will end up incurring as a result of doing that,” he added.
Trump has long been in favor of reintroducing waterboarding and other practices he referred to as a “hell of a lot worse.”
His views may have been slightly tempered by a meeting with his pick for secretary of defense, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis. Nevertheless, he still believes in the importance of torture to combat groups like Islamic State, who readily make use of atrocities to inspire fear.
“I was surprised [by his answer], because he’s known as being like the toughest guy,” Trump said, referencing Mattis’s beliefs on torture. “And when he said that, I’m not saying it changed my mind.”
“Look, we have people that are chopping off heads and drowning people in steel cages and we’re not allowed to waterboard,” Trump said. “If it’s so important to the American people, I would go for it. I would be guided by that.”
His refusal to explicitly disavow the use of these techniques prompted 176 retired flag officers, generals and admirals to write a letter urging Trump to stay far away from these practices, as they constitute a violation of international law.
“We know from experience that U.S. national security policies are most effective when they uphold those ideals,” the letter read. “For these reasons, we are concerned about statements made during the campaign about the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The use of waterboarding or any so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” is unlawful under domestic and international law.”
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