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Hullabaloo


Saturday, March 05, 2016

 
Wherever did he get these crazy ideas?

by digby
















As I noted yesterday, Trump walked back his oft-repeated endorsement of torture and other war crimes. He's been saying this for many, many months so it's curious that he released this very formal statement after he reiterated it so strongly in the debate last Thursday:

Obviously, he was "spoken to" by someone and not just by the hypocrite Michael Hayden or the rest of those GOP foreign policy establishment who spoke out before the debate.  It would be fascinating to know who "convinced" him to release that statement which was obviously not written by him and which has the tone of a coerced confession.  Very strange.

Today his spokesperson explained on CNN that he never really meant what he said at least 500 times in public:
Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokeswoman, said the candidate had been misunderstood. 
"He realized they took him literally, that's why he put out the statement," she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "What he's saying is that he wants to go after them with the full force of everything we have."
He has been very, very explicit in his language, there was no misunderstanding, he said he believes in torture, summary execution and the killing and torture of terrorist suspect's families to extract information. There is no doubt about what he was talking about for all these months.

Where have these people been? Many of us have been running around with our hair on fire documenting the horror of a presidential candidate openly calling for war crimes and large crowds of Americans cheering ecstatically whenever he says it.

How did these people miss this?

When asked about waterboarding [in the debate Trump] eagerly endorsed it, and more:

MUIR: … Mr. Trump, you said not only does it work, but that you’d bring it back.

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what. In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people. We have things that we have never seen before — as a group, we have never seen before, what’s happening right now.

The medieval times — I mean, we studied medieval times — not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

This was greeted with ecstatic applause from the audience.

When asked about it further the next morning he was more explicit:

STEPHANOPOULOS: The issue of waterboarding front and center last night as (INAUDIBLE). You said, I would bring back waterboarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

What did you have in mind?

TRUMP: Well, George, you’re not talking about what I said before that. I said we’re living in a world where, in the Middle East, they’re cutting people’s heads off. They’re chopping a Christian’s head off. And many of them, we talk about Foley, James Foley, and you know, what a wonderful young man. Boom, they’re chopping heads.

So then I went into this. I said, yes, I would bring back waterboarding. And I would make it a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes.

What did you have in mind?

TRUMP: I had in mind going worse than waterboarding. It’s enough. We have right now a country that’s under siege. It’s under siege from a people, from — we’re like living in medieval times. If I have it to do and if it’s up to me, I would absolutely bring back waterboarding. And if it’s going to be tougher than waterboarding, I would bring that back, too.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As president, you would authorize torture?

TRUMP: I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding. And believe me, it will be effective. If we need information, George, you have our enemy cutting heads off of Christians and plenty of others, by the hundreds, by the thousands.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do we win by being more like them?

TRUMP: Yes. I’m sorry. You have to do it that way. And I’m not sure everybody agrees with me. I guess a lot of people don’t. We are living in a time that’s as evil as any time that there has ever been. You know, when I was a young man, I studied Medieval times. That’s what they did, they chopped off heads. That’s what we have…

STEPHANOPOULOS: So we’re going to chop off heads?

TRUMP: We’re going to do things beyond waterboarding perhaps, if that happens to come.

Trump did not rule out chopping off heads.

Nobody cared. It was fine. Having Republican crowds cheering and clapping for torture was just fine. Nobody objected.

Now suddenly, it's a problem? Well, better late than never but it's pretty rich to hear stuff like this coming from the right wing:


Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, released a letter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, on Friday asking for his thoughts on the legality of Trump's stance.

"What impact would this policy have on our war effort?" he asked.

That's nice. It would have been even nicer if he's done this when Trump first started saying it six months ago.

And then there's this:

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen told CNN Thursday that "the notion that we would attack and kill the families of terrorists is something that contravenes everything the United States stands for in this world."

Cohen warned that if the military carried out these orders, they could face a Nuremberg-like trial, saying, "we have to be concerned about that you have an order given by the commander in chief which violates every sense of law and order, international law and order, that would make any of those who carried out that dictum such to be a violation of the international criminal code."

Actually we do that all the time, we just pretend it's an accident. And sometimes we don't even bother pretending:




"I would suggest that he should have a far more responsible father ..."

Maybe Lindsay Graham should have asked what effect that had on our war effort too.

But this takes the cake:
And former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, speaking of Trump, told HBO this week that "if he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act."

"You are required not to follow an unlawful order. That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict," Hayden said.

CNN analyst and retired Army Major Gen. James "Spider" Marks agreed, telling CNN Friday, "You are required to follow orders but you are also required to think, to use your judgment. And if an order is illegal you can't go down that path. You cannot follow that order."

Well, "unlawful" is in the eye of the beholder, isn't? As both of these men know very well all you have to do is get an "opinion" from a lawyer who's willing to say that war crimes aren't war
crimes and you're good to go.

Trump just didn't understand the procedure. Now he does. He'll be sure to say publicly "the United States doesn't torture" just as Bush and Obama have done. I'd guess he'll be winking broadly as he draws his hand across his throat while he does it because that's the kind of guy he is.


This is the piece de resistance, however:
Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper Friday night, Hayden applauded Trump's reversal but was still left with nagging questions.

"I was quite heartened to see it," Hayden said before asking, "What was the worldview that prompted those statements in the first place?"

Yes, I wonder he got that?



I am horrified by Trump's primitive bloodlust and have written about it for months. He takes it farther than anyone in modern politics up until now. But let's not pretend that he came up with this out of the blue. This has been the official and unofficial policy of the United States for a very long time. President Obama banned the official use of torture but has been involved in the killing of terrorist suspects families under less than honorable circumstances. (They have not said they were targeting family members to pressure terrorist suspects as Trump has, but it's obvious that the people in the region believe that's exactly what they've done. And yet it hasn't stopped terrorism. Go figure.)

There were no official repercussions for torture. In fact, the Republican Party repudiated the Senate report that documented the sickening extent of it and the full release of the report may never come. The White House stonewalled even the summary and still refuses to even acknowledge the full report.

So why would anyone be surprised when some malevolent, demagogic, megalomaniac comes along and thinks that openly endorsing war crimes like torture and killing of family members was just a matter of being "politically incorrect"? He has every reason to think that this is what the government, the military and most of the political establishment actually believes should be done and he's just the one who will be honest enough to defend it in public.


Update: Apparently Trump said today in a totally sarcastic tone that he "would not break any laws" wink, wink and that he would change the laws to make it possible to torture. Because he really wants to torture. He sounded as if he was completely exasperated by the fact that he has to say this.

I'd still like to know who it is that convinced him that he has to say this. That is a powerful person.

.