President Donald Trump said during an interview on Jan. 25 that torture "absolutely" works (video below).
Trump made his assertion during an interview with ABC News: "I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, 'Does it work? Does torture work?' and the answer was 'Yes, absolutely.'"
Trump did not cite any specific people who support torture. Trump was asked if he wants to use waterboarding, a form of torture, during interrogations.
Trump tried to justify torture by the U.S. by naming atrocities committed by ISIS:
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I don't want people to chop off the citizens' or anybody's heads in the Middle East, OK? Because they are Christian or Muslim or anything else.
Look, now they chop them off and they put them on camera and send them all over the world. So we have that and we're not allowed to do anything? We're not playing on an even field.
I will rely on [CIA Director Mike] Pompeo and [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis and my group and if they don't want to do it that's fine. If they do want to do then I will work toward that end.
I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally but do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works.
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Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky gave his reaction to Trump's pro-torture statement on CNN (video below):
You know, I was comforted about a month ago when I heard that he had a conversation with General Mattis who has unequivocally said that torture doesn't work. But we've also studied this.
The CIA detained 119 people, 39 of them were tortured, and the conclusion of the Senate committee's report was that it didn't work.
But there was also something very alarming. Of the 119 people that the CIA detained around the world, 26 of them were mistakenly identified.
Paul also said he was "alarmed" by anyone who wants to go back to using torture, and added, "It’s currently against the law and I hope it will remain against the law."
Paul went on to say the CIA needs more oversight because there are "only eight members of Congress that truly know what's going on in the CIA, that truly know what's going on as far as covert war going on around the world."
The Atlantic reported in 2009 that President Ronald Reagan signed the U.N. Convention on Torture in 1984, which clearly bans torture:
For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.