Speaking today at his confirmation hearing, the nominee for CIA Director Rep. Mike Pompeo (R – KS) ruled out any return to torture or any sort of “enhanced interrogation,” insisting he would absolutely refuse to implement such measures even if ordered to do so by President-elect Donald Trump.
Pompeo insisted he would “absolutely not” accept any presidential order to do so, and added “I can’t imagine I would be asked,” which may indicate that there has been a substantial shift if Trump’s position with respect to torture since the election.
During the campaign, Trump was an outspoken proponent of torture, vowing to bring back waterboarding and worse. He insisted at the time that only idiots could doubt that torture was effective, and insisted that even if it didn’t work, it was worth doing because the detainees deserve it.
Pompeo’s suggestion of a shift comes after Defense Secretary-nominee Gen. James Mattis openly panned torture, and told Trump he didn’t believe torture was at all effective at intelligence gathering. Trump was said at the time to have been surprised Mattis was opposed to torture, but it may well have caused a substantial rethink in his stated policy.