Politics

Trump: Bring Back Waterboarding

The front-runner and rival Ben Carson demand tough interrogations, surveillance of mosques

GOP front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday called for the return of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques to combat the growing threat from ISIS.

“I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s a whole different level, and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

Such techniques were used controversially during the War on Terror under former President George W. Bush, but were discontinued by President Obama.

Meantime, during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., criticized President Obama’s approach to ISIS and rebutted his suggestion that the group had been “contained.”

“I don’t think the approach is sufficient to the job,” said Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“It’s enormously strong, and it has to be dealt with in a very strong manner,” she said of ISIS. “This has gone on too long now and it has not gotten better, it’s gotten worse.”

Other leading Republican presidential candidates over the weekend also called for a return to Bush-era national security measures as the U.S. and Western Europe remain on edge after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

When asked if he agreed with Trump on waterboarding, Ben Carson — who is down 8 points from last month in a new poll, but remains in a second place behind Trump — said the U.S. should not hamstring itself by pre-emptively removing options from the table.

“I agree that there’s no such thing as political correctness when you’re fighting an enemy who wants to destroy you,” he said during a separate appearance on “This Week.” “And I’m not one who is real big on telling the enemy what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do.”

Trump and Carson also voiced their support for greater surveillance of mosques and other public places where Islamic radicalization might occur.

Trump said he wanted a return to a controversial program used by New York City police to spy on mosques and Muslim communities prior to 2014, when it was shut down when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office.

“I don’t want to close mosques; I want to surveil mosques,” Trump explained, seeming to temper comments made last week that there was “no choice” but to close down certain mosques.

“Call him anything you want, but Jeb is a person that will not solve a problem like this,” Trump said.

After fellow candidate Jeb Bush criticized the plan to shutter mosques as a sign of weakness, Trump responded by blasting the former Florida governor as a “weak” and “low-energy” person.

“Call him anything you want, but Jeb is a person that will not solve a problem like this,” Trump said.

Trump also declined to rule out a third-party run if he doesn’t get the GOP nomination.

“I’m going to have to see what happens,” he said. “I have to be treated fairly.”

Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is near the back of the pack in most GOP presidential primary polls, attacked security measures favored by Trump and Carson.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Paul said such surveillance would require a “religious czar” that would impinge on Americans’ liberty.

Paul also voiced his opposition to expanding the collection of phone call records and metadata by the National Security Agency, noting that France has a much more intrusive domestic surveillance regime than the U.S., but was still unable to prevent the Paris attacks.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is stuck at 3 percent in national polls but is making inroads in New Hampshire, made a plea on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he is the most qualified among the Republican candidates to fight terrorism and stop ISIS.

“I’m the only person in this race who’s actually done this before,” he said, highlighting his prior career as a federal prosecutor.

He also called for more resources and support for the intelligence and law enforcement communities, especially the NSA bulk metadata collection program.

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