Trump on Waterboarding: It Works, But Even ‘If It Doesn’t Work, They Deserve It Anyway’

Patrick Goodenough | November 24, 2015 | 1:15am EST
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Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

( – Republican presidential contender Donald Trump doubled down Monday night on his support for waterboarding terrorist suspects, saying the interrogation method worked – and even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing to us.”

Speaking at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, Trump returned to a topic that caused a stir when he said on ABC “This Week” on Sunday that as president he would bring back waterboarding.

“Would I approve waterboarding? And I said, well, let me ask you a question. On the other side, they chop off our young people’s heads, and they put them on a stick.

“On the other side, they build these iron cages, and they’ll put 20 people in them. And they drop them in the ocean for 15 minutes and pull them up 15 minutes later,” Trump said. “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would … in a heartbeat. In a heartbeat.”

“And I would approve more than that,” he continued. “And don’t kid yourself folks, it works, okay? It works.”

Trump said only a stupid person would argue otherwise. He said that said he knows important people, who want to be politically correct, who go on television and question the effectiveness of waterboarding – but then tell him privately later that it does work.

“And you know what? If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing to us,” he said. “But it works. It works.”

President Obama banned waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” in 2009.

Anti-torture campaigners maintain that the controversial practice, which is said to simulate drowning, is a form of torture – a position which the Obama administration shares.

Then-State Department legal advisor Harold Hongju Koh said in 2010 that the administration “defines waterboarding as torture as a matter of law under the Convention Against Torture.”  (The U.N. treaty, which the U.S. ratified in 1994, calls on states to criminalize torture and to prosecute “complicity or participation in torture.”)

In his 2010 memoir Decision Points, President George W. Bush acknowledged personally approving the “waterboarding” of leading al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed. The admission prompted fresh calls by U.N. officials, Amnesty International, and others for the former president to be prosecuted.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed masterminded al-Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. on 9/11. Almost 3,000 people were killed when 19 terrorists seized passenger planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth plane went down in rural Pennsylvania after passengers confronted the hijackers.

Bush has said that the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed “helped save lives on American soil.”

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