2016 Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush announced he will not completely rule out the use of torture as an interrogation technique. Bush said that though the method was inappropriate, there were circumstances where the use of such tactics would be necessary for the safety of the American people, though he refused or conveniently chose not to state when that would be the case.
Bush was speaking before an Iowa audience organized by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, a group chaired by former Republican Mike Rogers. Bush was responding to a question on whether he would continue President Barack Obama’s standing order banning the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said. Though acknowledging that the methods were largely “inappropriate”, Bush refused to rule out their use if he was President, saying that in some circumstances, the measures would be necessary for the safety of the American people.
“That’s why I’m not saying in every condition, under every possible scenario,” he added.
Torture as an interrogative technique was largely banned by Jeb’s older brother, former President George W. Bush, towards the end of his tenure. President Barack Obama enforced an executive order banning the CIA’s use of the enhanced techniques on Al Qaeda operatives.
A 2014 Senate report indicated that the CIA had been using waterboarding, nudity, humiliation, sleep deprivation and other inhumane methods of questioning to get information from their prisoners. The methods could not be used by the U.S. military on their prisoners of war under international law. The report also added that the methods were ineffective, with no information that would enhance America’s safety being divulged.
The report revealed that not only did the CIA lied about the methods they used while extensively grilling prisoners, they also chose not to disclose certain techniques they used to the public.
After his comments Bush said there was a difference between torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. He refused to elaborate on his interpretation of the difference and the extent to which he would allow it.
Foreign policy is quickly shaping up to be a hot issue on the 2016 race to the White House. Jeb Bush recently attacked Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for supporting a “premature” departure from Iraq in 2011 as former Secretary of State, a move he says contributed to the emergence of the Islamic State.
Bush said he would not deploy additional troops into Iraq but he would authorize special operatives in form of “forward spotters” to help identify the enemy.
Bush approached the issue of torture carefully being that it was a particularly thorny issue for his elder brother in his last days on the hill. An undefined definition of torture could be interpreted to justify inhumane acts by the CIA, acts that could ultimately be used against American citizens.