Former CIA Director Michael Hayden scolded Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpReport: Bannon told conservatives 'this is not a debate,' you have to back bill ObamaCare defeat caps difficult week for Trump Social media users troll GOP, Trump over ObamaCare repeal MORE on Friday for calling to bring back and expand controversial interrogation techniques that were abandoned more than a decade ago.
“His language on waterboarding was so bad that it actually gave waterboarding a bad name,” Hayden, who also served as head of the National Security Agency, said at an American Enterprise Institute event on Friday.
“He’s doing it because they deserve it. We never did it because they deserved it; we did it because we thought they knew something that we had a right to know in order to keep our citizens safe.”
Many Republicans and national security veterans, infuriated by his comments, have been sharply critical of Trump.
Multiple former GOP foreign policy figures now openly say they would consider voting for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, over Trump to keep him out of the White House.
The CIA has acknowledged subjecting three detainees to waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is widely considered torture, ending in 2003. The practice is currently illegal under U.S. law.
Earlier this year, Trump pledged that he would subject suspected terrorists to waterboarding and methods “a hell of a lot worse,” to match the brutality of groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians," he said during a debate. “Not since Medieval times have people seen what's going on."
This week, Trump suggested that Tuesday’s terror attack in Brussels might have been prevented had a suspect in last year's Paris attacks, who was arrested in Brussels just days earlier, been tortured for information.
"If he would've talked, you might not have had all these people dead and all these people wounded because he probably knew about it," Trump said on CNN. "We have to be smart.
“I mean it's hard to believe we can't waterboard. Listen, nothing's nice about it, but it's your minimal form of torture."