Pentagon officials say that Defense Secretary James Mattis remains opposed to torturing detainees, despite President Donald Trump’s comments Wednesday in favor of the idea, saying Mattis is committed to upholding international law, including the Geneva Conventions.
Mattis was the first major cabinet nominee to express opposition to returning to a policy of torture, and reportedly sat down with Trump to explain to him that torture simply didn’t work. Trump, who had previously insisted anyone who doubted torture was stupid, expressed surprise Mattis wasn’t okay with it.
But the Trump transition team stopped talking about torture after Mattis expressed opposition, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo also coming out against torture, and insisting that he would openly defy any orders to return to torture. At the same time, Pompeo said he couldn’t imagine Trump ordering torture.
In comments Wednesday, Trump again started hyping the idea of a return to torture, saying top intell0igence officials had all assured him it works well, and that not torturing ISIS would be unfair, because ISIS gets to torture people.
At the same time, Trump has insisted he is going to rely on Mattis and Pompeo on the issue, saying “if they don’t wanna do it, it’s 100% okay with me.”