On Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that the United States has “never engaged in torture.”
“America has never engaged in torture and we’re not about to,” Cruz responded after being asked whether he would engage in torture, enhanced interrogation, and waterboarding by the show’s three hosts.
Cruz, whose father was tortured in Cuba, has changed his stance on torture several times in the past — so his comment on the show simply adds to the confusion regarding what the presidential candidate actually thinks of its use.
In a Republican presidential debate last month, he claimed that “under the law, torture is excruciating pain equivalent to losing organs and systems” — a definition which surprisingly would not include his father’s experience of torture in a Cuban prison when he was a teenager.
In the past, however, Cruz was a vocal opponent of its use. “Torture is wrong, unambiguously. Period. The end,” he said in December 2014 at the Heritage Foundation after the release of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence report on the CIA’s use of torture. “America does not need torture to protect ourselves.”
In June 2015, Cruz voted for the McCain-Feinstein amendment, which made it harder for torture to take place under future U.S. presidents. As Politico reported, “the McCain-Feinstein amendment requires that all interrogation comply with the Army Field Manual, a publicly available document that forbids waterboarding as well as the use of electric shocks, dogs, nudity, hypothermia and mock executions. All were elements of the CIA’s interrogation program in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
“Torture is wrong, unambiguously,” Cruz said after his vote. “Civilized nations do not engage in torture and Congress has rightly acted to make absolutely clear that the United States will not engage in torture.”
It is abundantly clear that the U.S. has used torture in the past. The Senate Select Committee for Intelligence report on the CIA’s use of torture found that under President George W. Bush, “interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.” The report documented detainees who were subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation, lack of medical care for injuries, threats made against their families, physical beatings, ice baths, and other horrifying abuse.
Cruz, who was in office when the report was released, apparently does not count any of these as torture.
During Tuesday’s interview, Cruz also reiterated his call after the attacks in Brussels to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods, citing the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims — which the American Civil Liberties Union has called unconstitutional — as an example to follow.
Cruz also once again called for carpet-bombing in the Middle East, and putting U.S. boots on the ground, in order to fight ISIS.
To Fox’s credit, host Brian Kilmeade said that carpet-bombing means “killing a lot of civilians.” Cruz simply ignored this and went on to detail every thing the United States would bomb — from oil fields to infrastructure to communication.
“As president, I will utterly destroy ISIS. We will use overwhelming air power, carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” he said.