In his first sit-down interview since the inauguration, President Donald Trump said he "absolutely" supports to use of waterboarding to interrogate enemy combatant and would be willing to reopen CIA black-site prisons if his advisors think they are effective tactics. Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Several of President Donald Trump's cabinet nominations have expressed an intention not to bring back waterboarding and other forms harsh interrogation, but Trump himself said he would not be opposed to using either to protect the country.
Trump told ABC News on Wednesday he was willing to reauthorize waterboarding based on his belief that it "absolutely" works, but planned to defer to his commanders on whether or not it would actually be used.
While a draft of an executive order to allow the Central Intelligence Agency to reopen so-called "black site" prisons has reportedly been circulated among Trump's national security leaders, many of the techniques used at the prisons -- including waterboarding -- were outlawed by Congress in 2015.
"I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group," Trump said in the interview, his first since his inauguration last Friday. "And if they don't want to do, that's fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work toward that end. 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."
Trump said his strong belief in waterboarding is based on high ranking members of the intelligence community tell him that waterboarding works.
"I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence," Trump said. "I asked them the question, 'Does it work? Does torture work?' And the answer was 'Yes, absolutely.'"
For their part, Trump's new leaders of the Department of Defense, General James Mattis, and the CIA, Mike Pompeo, both said they did not expect to use torture and would be surprised if Trump demanded they do so. Mattis told Trump during an early meeting before his nomination that he felt he could get better intelligence with a pack of cigarettes and a few beers than by waterboarding a prisoner.
Pompeo and Mattis said they were "blindsided" by the draft Wednesday and had not heard anything about it, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied it had any connection to the White House.
"It is not a White House document," Spicer told reporters at the White House. "I have no idea where it came from, but it is not a White House document."