President Donald Trump is igniting controversy with his take on torture.
Now the man who developed the enhanced interrogation the President wants to bring back is speaking out about why he thinks it’s still needed.
“Would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire,” said President Trump last night, in his first one-on-one interview with ABC News since taking office.
Trump said he's considering bringing back enhanced interrogation.
“I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works,” said Trump.
The President faces opposition.
“The people in the Senate who have been tortured, mainly John McCain, don't think torture's a good idea. Also it's currently against the law and I hope it will remain against the law,” said Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
“It's almost like our current laws were written by the terrorists themselves to benefit the terrorists,” said psychologist James Mitchell, who developed the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program shortly after 9-1-1.
He recently wrote a book about the experience called “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America”.
“The President said to the CIA you've got to move forward, do everything within the law, walk right up to the edge of the law,” Mitchell said, describing what happened when he was contacted in 2002, when the intelligence community had evidence of other planned attacks.
Mitchell said what happened was far from torture.
“The way these interrogations were done is not what you might imagine from watching TV. There were doctors, there were psychologists,” he said, describing a room full of people, who were at liberty to stop interrogations at any time.
And Mitchell claims his team got valuable information from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad who was first interviewed using the "good cop" approach.
"He told me, he thought those guys were clowns. He said "Do you really think I’m going to betray my God for a cup of tea and a handful of dates? That's crazy,” Mitchell said.
But later, after being water-boarded and deprived of sleep... Mitchell says he started talking.
“It stopped another major catastrophic attack here in the United States and it saved American lives,” Mitchell said.
“I didn't like it. I felt like it was my duty,” he said, referring to the interrogations.
Mitchell says a new enhanced interrogation policy is needed, since terrorists have become bolder.
“ISIS is doing things that nobody's heard of since medieval times,” President Trump said.
Mitchell said what his team did was important and prevented more attacks on American soil.
“Their desire to protect their secrets so they could get their next attack off didn't outweigh my moral obligation to save American lives,” he said. “I know there are other people, good people who feel differently about that. I respect that. But they weren't there, I was.”
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