Cotton: Trump can make ‘tough calls’ on waterboarding

Tom Cotton, Iran, Gitmo, Guantanamo
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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is ready to make “tough calls” if it comes to waterboard terrorism suspects.

“If experienced intelligence professionals come to the president of the United States and say, ‘We think this terrorist has critical information and we need to obtain it and this is the only way we can obtain it,’ that’s a tough call,” Cotton said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” 

“But the presidency is a tough job, and if you’re not ready to make those tough calls then you shouldn’t seek the office. Donald Trump’s a pretty tough guy, and I think he’s ready to make those tough calls.”

Trump said during the campaign he would bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” to interrogate suspected terrorists.

Waterboarding is banned by international law and has been banned by U.S. law under an annual defense policy bill that includes a provision barring brutal interrogation techniques widely classified as torture.

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have already threatened to sue if Trump makes good on his promise.

During the interview Wednesday, Cotton also argued that waterboarding is not torture.

“Waterboarding isn’t torture,” said the member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We do waterboarding to our own soldiers in the military.”

U.S. special operations troops have used a form of waterboarding as part of survival exercises meant to prepare them in case they are ever captured and interrogated in such a way. Supporters of the practice have pointed to the exercises in the past as proof it’s not torture.

“I don’t think something people volunteer for is torture,” Cotton said.

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