Last Saturday, President Elect Donald Trump met with a number of prominent American officials as he continued to flesh out his cabinet appointments prior to taking office this coming January. Among these meetings was one with retired Marine General James Mattis. Mattis, a favorite among veterans, is being considered for the role of Secretary of Defense.
During Trump’s turbulent campaign, he made headlines by claiming that, if elected, he would reinstate the controversial intelligence gathering technique known in many circles as “waterboarding.” Waterboarding is a method of simulating drowning in the mind of a suspect, convincing them that their life is in danger so they are more willing to admit guilt or divulge secrets they would not otherwise volunteer. Although waterboarding is not life-threatening, the experience is so difficult to endure that many have taken to calling it torture; citing the international community’s definition of torture’s inclusion of “mock executions” as grounds for the technique’s ban.
Republican Senator and Chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, John McCain, recently spoke out in harsh criticism of the practice, and of Donald Trump’s stance that it should be reinstated; “If they started waterboarding, I swear to you there’s a whole bunch of us that would have them in court in a New York minute,” said McCain. “So I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do, we will not waterboard, we will not torture. We will not torture people.” McCain, once a prisoner of war himself, also cited legislation passed by Congress last year that limits interrogation methods to those listed in the Army Field Manual.
Trump’s stance on waterboarding, on the other hand, has been historically opposed to McCain’s position, stating at a campaign event this past spring, “Torture works. OK, folks? Believe me, it works. OK? And waterboarding is your minor form, but we should go much stronger than waterboarding.”