Cotton said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday that he agrees with Trump’s embrace of waterboarding and thinks U.S. law may need to be changed so it can be reinstated.
“Donald Trump’s a pretty tough guy and I think he’s ready to make those tough calls,” Cotton said.
Cotton, who in May said America has an “under-incarceration problem,” made his pronouncement after host Wolf Blitzer asked if he agrees with Trump’s support of using torture against ISIS.
“I love” waterboarding and “think it’s great,” Trump has said. He added that he “would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and that the U.S. is “going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost.”
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The International Red Cross classified waterboarding as torture in 2014, saying the practice violates the Geneva Conventions.
CIA Director John Brennan said in July that he would resign his position if Trump were to order the agency to resume such interrogation tactics, Reuters reported.
Among those who have spoken out against Trump’s endorsement of the tactic is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was subjected to torture during his five years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Cotton told CNN he understands McCain’s position, but disagrees.
“If experienced intelligence professionals come to the president of the United States and say, ‘We think this terrorist has critical information and we need to obtain it, and this is the only way we can obtain it,’ that’s a tough call,” Cotton said. “But the presidency is a tough job, and if you’re not willing to make those tough calls you shouldn’t seek the office. Donald Trump’s a pretty tough guy and I think he’s ready to make those tough calls.”
Cotton added this totally false claim: “America does not torture. We never have and we never will.”
“Waterboarding isn’t torture,” Cotton declared. “We do waterboarding to our own soldiers in the military.” He said American troops and “radio DJs volunteer for it” and, “I don’t think something people volunteer for is torture.”
In 2009, conservative talk radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller declared waterboarding “absolute torture” after volunteering for it.
Watch Cotton’s full CNN interview here.