National Security

Spicer: Draft order on torture not a White House document

A draft executive order that would smooth the path for the CIA to reopen controversial “black site” detention facilities is not a White House document, press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday.

He went on to chide journalists for reporting on the document.

“I have no idea where it came from,” Spicer said. “I would urge those people who have reported on it — this is the second day we’ve had a document that was not a White House document reported on.”

The ding was an apparent reference to an erroneous White House statement about the Women’s March on Washington that was circulated over the weekend.

{mosads}Spicer on Wednesday refused to answer questions about whether President Trump was weighing the basic policy recommendations contained in the draft order.

“I’m not going to start answering hypotheticals about documents that are floating around,” Spicer said, cutting off NBC reporter Kristen Welker and moving on to another question.

In an interview Tuesday evening on MSNBC’s “For the Record” with Greta Van Susteren, House Speaker Paul Ryan said it’s his understanding the document was written by someone who formerly worked with the Trump team.

“My understanding is this was written by somebody who worked on the transition before who is not in the Trump administration. This is not a product of the administration,” he said. “This is not something the Trump administration is planning on working on or we’re talking about. That’s the point that I think matters here.”

The New York Times, The Washington Post and others reported on a three-page proposed order that would revoke a series of Obama administration executive orders that closed the sites, granted Red Cross access to all detainees and limited interrogators to techniques approved in the Army Field Manual.

Trump has in the past offered a full-throated endorsement of a return to the use of techniques many decry as torture — like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” — because “torture works” and “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”

The draft was immediately met with widespread condemnation from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have long been jumpy that the president would order interrogators to make use of brutal tactics currently prohibited by law.

Congress later codified the Obama administration rule limiting the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, and that law remains in place.

“The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement.

Tags John McCain Paul Ryan

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