Trump: 'I Would Approve Waterboarding, And If You Go Beyond It, I'm OK With That'

By Susan Jones | February 8, 2016 | 6:12 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump answers a question during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

( - Republican Donald Trump repeated his call over the weekend for the waterboarding of terrorists to get information out of them.

"I would approve waterboarding, and if you go beyond it, I'm OK with that," Trump told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos.

At Saturday's Republican debate in New Hampshire, Trump noted that in the Middle East, "we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people."

According to Trump, "not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

Stephanopoulos on Sunday asked Trump what he meant by that.

"I said, yes, I would bring back waterboarding," Trump said. "And I would make it a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

"What did you have in mind?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"I had in mind going worse than waterboarding. It's enough. We have right now a country that's under siege. It's under siege from a people, from -- we're like living in medieval times. If I have it to do and if it's up to me, I would absolutely bring back waterboarding. And if it's going to be tougher than waterboarding, I would bring that back, too."

Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he would authorize torture.

"I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding. And believe me, it will be effective. If we need information, George, you have our enemy cutting heads off of Christians and plenty of others, by the hundreds, by the thousands."

"Do we win by being more like them?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yes. I'm sorry," Trump replied. "You have to do it that way. And I'm not sure everybody agrees with me. I guess a lot of people don't. We are living in a time that's as evil as any time that there has ever been. You know, when I was a young man, I studied medieval times. That's what they did, they chopped off heads."

"So we're going to chop off heads--" Stephanopoulos broke in.

"We're going to do things beyond waterboarding perhaps, if that happens to come," Trump responded. The question was asked. I thought Ted's answer was very tentative, Ted Cruz. He gave a very tentative answer. If we have to, we're going to have to do more.

"But when you have conditions like that, I would say absolutely, I would approve waterboarding and if you go beyond it, I'm OK with that."

Trump said Islamic terrorists don't view waterboarding as "real torture." "They laugh at us," he said. "They think we are so stupid, you have no idea."

At Saturday's debate in New Hampshire, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that waterboarding is not torture, under the definition of torture.

"Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture," Cruz said.

Cruz said he would not bring back the "widespread use" of waterboarding. "And indeed, I joined with Senator McCain in legislation that would prohibit line officers from employing it, because I think bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels.

"But when it comes to keeping this country safe, the commander in chief has inherent constitutional authority to keep this country safe. And so, if it were necessary to, say, prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe."

Early in his presidency, President Obama said he believed that waterboarding was torture, "and whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake."

Instead of capturing and interrogating America's enemies,  President Obama has used drone strikes to kill some of them, and he has released many others from Guantanamo Bay to third countries that agree to monitor them.

Obama is now pushing to close Gitmo entirely, which means some of the captured enemies would be imprisoned at military facilities here.

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