Asked during Saturday’s CBS/National Journal GOP presidential foreign policy debate if he thought torture was wrong in all cases, Herman Cain said he did and would defer to the military as to what constituted torture. But just seconds later Cain contradicted himself, asserting his view that waterboarding did not constitute torture:
CAIN: I do not agree with torture. Period. However, I will trust the judgement of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture. That is the critical consideration.
GARRETT: Mr. Cain, of course you’re familiar with the long-running debate we’ve had about whether waterboarding constitutes torture or is an enhanced interrogation technique. In the last campaign Republican nominee John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that it was torture and should not be allowed, legally, and that the Army Field Manual should be the methodology used to interrogate enemy combatants. Do you agree with that, or do you disagree with that sir?
CAIN: I agree that it was an enhanced interrogation technique.
GARRETT: And then you would support it as President, you would return to that policy.
CAIN: Yes, I would return to that policy. I don’t see it as torture.
While Cain claims to listen to the military, he apparently doesn’t heed its policy on waterboarding. The Army Field Manual, which governs the behavior of all military interrogators, explicitly bans waterboarding.
When Cain and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) endorsed waterboarding, the crowd at the debate cheered enthusiastically. Watch it:
On Monday, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) defended waterboarding by citing a Hollywood movie. West said that “as the president, you need to do those things which are necessary to make sure that the American people are kept safe,” adding, “and furthermore, in the movie ‘G.I. Jane,’ Demi Moore was waterboarded.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted today, “Very disappointed by statements at SC GOP debate supporting waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture.”