Under the Geneva Convention, American Convention on Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and a 1984 United Nations convention on human rights -- all signed by the U.S. -- torture of prisoners is illegal. But throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump touted the reinstatement of waterboarding in the fight against terrorism -- a pledge that Vice President-elect Mike Pence says the Trump administration has not ruled out.
During a Nov. 19 discussion at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, who has been both a prisoner of war and the subject of Trump’s verbal attacks, commented on Trump’s waterboarding pledge, notes The Associated Press.
“I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do,” McCain began. “We will not waterboard. We will not do it.”
Pence responded on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Nov. 20, reports The Washington Post.
“Well, I have great respect for Sen. McCain,” Pence said. “What I can tell you is that going forward, as he outlined in that famous speech in Ohio, is that a President Donald Trump is going to focus on confronting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to this country ... We're going to have a president again who will never say what we'll never do.”
Pence was referring to a November 2015 rally in Columbus, Ohio, in which Trump called for the use of waterboarding following a terrorist attack in Paris, France.
“Would I approve waterboarding?” Trump told the crowd. “You bet your a** I would -- in a heartbeat. And I would approve more than that. Don't kid yourself, folks. It works, OK? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn't work.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas and Trump’s nominee to head of the CIA, defended the use of waterboarding in a 2014 statement, reports NPR.
"Our men and women who were tasked to keep us safe in the aftermath of 9/11 -- our military and our intelligence warriors -- are heroes," Pompeo wrote. "These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots. The programs being used were within the law, within the Constitution."