The nation’s spy chief took a swipe Tuesday at presidential candidates who in recent days have suggested the United States should start waterboarding terror suspects again.
Clapper was responding to a question from committee Chairman John McCainJohn McCainSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Republicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown Nunes endures another rough day MORE (R-Ariz.), who in recent days has been pushing back on comments made on the presidential campaign trail in regards to torture.
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpManafort-linked accounts on Cyprus probed: report Republican failure Trump's environmental order jeopardizes our national security MORE said during Saturday's Republican debate that he would he reinstate waterboarding as well as "bring back a hell of a lot worse." Despite a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Trump leads in both national and New Hampshire polls.
He later called rival Ted Cruz, the winner in Iowa, a "pussy" because Cruz didn't say he'd support waterboarding during the debate.
Cruz said during the debate that while he doesn't support reinstating the interrogation technique "in any sort of widespread use," he also doesn't consider it to be torture.
McCain, who was tortured while held in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, successfully championed a provision in this year’s defense policy bill that banned brutal interrogation techniques widely criticized as torture. The bill did so by limiting interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual.
McCain continued to press the issue Tuesday, and Clapper agreed with his position.
“Isn’t it the fact that American values are such that no matter what the enemy does that we maintain a higher standard of behavior, and when we violate that, such as we did with Abu Ghraib, the consequences are severe?” he asked Clapper.
“Yes, sir,” Clapper responded.