During his campaign, Trump repeatedly hinted that he would reinstate torture and other “extreme interrogation” techniques on captured enemy combatants. These statements were slammed by officials of bother parties as un-American, illegal, and immoral. Now, a leaked memo from the White House appears to show that Trump is looking to make good on his promise to bring torture back, by loosening restrictions on CIA black sites.
Reports the New York Times, the memo “raise[s] the prospect of reviving C.I.A. “black site” prisons like those where terrorism suspects were once detained and tortured…one of the most controversial policies of the post-9/11 era.”
The use of CIA black sites to imprison and torture terror suspects is widely viewed as a shameful stain on the presidency of George W. Bush. When the program came to light, the Supreme Court and Congress intervened to stop the worst of the CIA’s practices. President Obama officially ended the black site program when he took office.
Trump’s picks for Secretary of Defense and CIA director were apparently “blindsided” by the leaked memo, according to Politico. Both had said in their confirmation hearings that they were opposed to the use of torture.
Democrats have vowed to fight any effort by Trump to bring back torture. Said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “Even the suggestion that we may bring back these discredited policies does serious damage to our international standing and will make our allies in the fight against terror wary about cooperating with us. I will do everything in my power to ensure that these grievous mistakes of the past are never repeated,” reports the New York Times.
Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had this to say, according to CNN: “The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America,” the Arizona senator said in a statement.”
The White House has downplayed the memo publicly, but numerous administration officials told the New York Times that the White House circulated the document to National Security Council staff members for review on Tuesday.