As Donald Trump is expected to order the reinistitution of waterboarding—a torture method previously used by CIA interrogators—the newly inaugurated president said he heard from high-level intelligence sources that it “absolutely” works. However, he would not name those experts, as the overwhelming preponderance of experts saying torture does not work. “I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question: does torture work?” he told ABC reporter David Muir. “And the answer was: yes, absolutely.” Trump had promised during his presidential campaign to bring back waterboarding, despite it being banned by President Barack Obama during his first month in office; and despite there being no conclusive evidence that the torture method provided key intelligence about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts (as its defenders often contend). “I feel it works,” Trump said, nevertheless.
Trump’s own secretary of defense, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, is an adamant opponent of torture. Soon after winning the election, Trump recalled to The New York Times how Mattis had managed to convince him to change his own mind about the value of waterboarding. “He said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful,’” Mr. Trump recalled. He added that he was “very impressed” by Mattis’s belief in building and rewarding cooperation with terrorism suspects. It appears as though Trump forgot Mattis ever helped him change his opinion.