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Dan Gilmore / April 12, 2016

CIA Would Disobey Trump’s Order to Torture Prisoners

This leaves Trump with nothing more than his inflated rhetoric.

Donald Trump has promised he would be a tough-on-terrorism president. Not only would he order the CIA to use enhanced interrogation techniques, he said during a February debate he’d “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” What’s more, the reality TV personality said he would bring a scorched-earth strategy to the terrorism fight. He’d issue (illegal) orders for the military to kill the wives, children and families of the jihadists bent on striking America — a clear war crime. Last month, Mark Alexander wrote how active-duty military personnel would disobey Trump’s unlawful orders because they took an oath foremost to support and defend the Constitution.

Recently, there is mounting evidence that the CIA, too, would disobey orders to torture terrorism suspects. First, any president would face legal hurdles, as Congress passed a law making enhanced interrogation techniques illegal. Furthermore, the memo that was used to justify the practice in the first place was withdrawn by the Justice Department.

Additionally, the people within the intelligence community wouldn’t allow it. Just like the military that only obeys lawful orders, spies also have a code of conduct that prevents them from obeying an unlawful order. Robert Deitz, former senior counselor for CIA Director Michael Hayden, said, “If the president says, I don’t know, ‘Go shoot the queen of England,’ [covert operations] would say, ‘I’m not doing that.’”

This is the stance that also exists at the top of the organization, as CIA Director John Brennan said, “I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out waterboarding again.” This leaves a possible Trump presidency with nothing more than his inflated rhetoric and campaign promises that he has no chance of fulfilling.

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