National Security

U.S. use of torture ‘never going to happen’ again, key lawmaker says

Any operative ordered by the incoming Trump administration to use torture “ought to resign before they do it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said Tuesday.
Any operative ordered by the incoming Trump administration to use torture “ought to resign before they do it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said Tuesday. The Christian Science Monitor

Ordering the Pentagon or intelligence operatives to start using torture again “is never going to happen,” the ranking member of the House intelligence panel said Tuesday, and if such an order were given agents should immediately quit.

“I’m in complete agreement with (Sen.) John McCain,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, who is the top Democratic congressman on the key House committee.

“It doesn’t matter what the president elect thinks, it doesn’t matter what his team thinks,” Schiff said at a breakfast roundtable with journalists. Within the intelligence community, “there would be such massive resistance to this, it just isn’t going to happen.

“And you know my recommendation to anyone in the (intelligence community) that is asked to do this again? They ought to resign before they do it. And I think that will be the sentiment within the military.”

Schiff echoed sentiments by Sen. McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate armed services committee. McCain two weeks ago warned at a forum in Canada that the U.S. government will not return to the torture tactics used after the 2001 terror attacks until Congress banned the practice in 2005.

“We will not torture people,” McCain said. “It does not work.”

President-elect Donald Trump said repeatedly during the campaign that he favors the use of enhanced interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists, declaring early this year that “I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Torture is banned under the Geneva Conventions, the international treaties set up after World War II on the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. Strengthening the 2005 ban, Congress last year voted overwhelmingly to codify the prohibition on subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, rectal feeding and other brutal interrogation tactics.

On another issue, Schiff said he doubted whether the Obama administration would release the classified 6,000-page report detailing the CIA’s practices of various forms of torture on suspected terrorists between 2001 and 2006. Some of the tactics used were vicious and gruesome.

In late 2014, after the Senate intelligence committee approved the report’s findings in a majority vote, it released a 525-page executive summary but kept the rest secret.

Schiff said the most he expects of the Obama administration in its waning days “is to designate it some kind of a record that would ultimately lead to its availability through (Freedom of Information Act), subject to redaction obviously. I don’t think the incoming administration will have any interest in publishing any greater part of the document.”

Pressure from Trump to resume torture, Schiff said, makes it “very important that that information be shared as much as possible.”

Tim Johnson: 202-383-6028, @timjohnson4

  Comments