Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?

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If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

— Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967

On Jan. 25, 26 and 27, the new president repeated falsely that “torture works.” Claiming to have spoken with high-level intelligence officers, Trump said they told him torture works “absolutely.”

This implausible story flies in the face of the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report which concluded that torture is not merely illegal but worthless. The 6,000+-page report found that torture produced “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.” This common knowledge has been settled law for so long that torture has been prohibited by international treaties and US statutes. Historian Michael Kwass reminds us that as early as 1764, Cesare Beccaria called for abolishing torture because it is immoral and doesn’t work. For good measure, the Senate again voted to ban torture in 2015.

On Feb. 17 last year at an event in Bluffton, S.C., Trump said, “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works,” and, “Half these guys [say], ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works. … I would bring back waterboarding. And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” At a big rally Nov. 23, 2015, he said, “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would, in a heartbeat, in a…

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