Dear President Trump: You can be tough on terrorism without using torture

Why the moral and political costs of torture are too high to justify its use.

It’s clear that President Trump sees the reopening of the torture debate not as an excruciating foray into morally fraught terrain but, rather, as an opportunity to simple-mindedly bash Democrats as terrorist sympathizers. Faux tough-guy Trump tweeted on Monday: “My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!”

Sorry, Mr. President, but you can be tough on terror and still oppose torture. That, in fact, is precisely the position of your own defense secretary, James Mattis, who said in his job interview: “Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do better with that than I do with torture.” Trump reluctantly acceded to Mattis’ view by banning torture while insisting that it “works.”

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