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CIA chief tosses out use of waterboarding

CIA Director John Brennan says he will no longer use waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” tactics. Brennan spoke to NBC News saying, “I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about because this institution needs to endure.” Trump said the technique, considered torture under international law, and other methods he characterized as “a hell of a lot worse” would be used to extract information from potential terrorists.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also has said he’d be open to reinstituting some of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were approved under the Bush administration, arguing that they are not “torture.” President Obama, however, banned those techniques shortly after assuming office on precisely that ground. But Mr. Brennan, the current director, said he’d do the same thing Mr. Hayden suggested, potentially precipitating a constitutional crisis. “Absolutely, I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out waterboarding again,” he said, according to an NBC news report posted Sunday evening.

Brennan, a longtime Obama security adviser, took an unequivocal stance against “enhanced interrogation” techniques: “I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about because this institution needs to endure.” Brennan has a history of making contradictory statements on torture, particularly around the time of his 2013 confirmation hearings to be CIA director.

He was known to be a critic and dissenter of interrogation techniques used during the George W. Bush administration. Though Brennan, at the time of his hearings, sided with the agency and defended the CIA, saying the enhanced interrogation techniques “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.”

“They’re laughing at us right now. I would like to strengthen the laws so that we can better compete,” Trump told CBS’s “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson last month. “You know it’s very tough to beat enemies that don’t have any, that don’t have any restrictions, all right?” The third remaining candidate, John Kasich, has equivocated on the issue. Other Republicans who have now dropped out of the race endorsed or refused to rule out the use of torture. The two Democratic candidates for president, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, have condemned the use of torture.

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