Why Trump’s Trusting Mattis’s Judgment Regarding Torture Matters


by Micah J. Fleck

More silver linings in this cloudy age. It seems that while President Trump has publicly states his own views on torture, and how he thinks it works, he will ultimately defer to his Military Chief, the ex general Mattis, on whether or not to actually reinstate the practice of waterboarding.

According to reports:

Joined earlier in the day at the White House by May, the British prime minister, Trump reaffirmed the United States’ “special relationship” with Great Britain.

But he was also asked about more contentious issues, including his recent statements that torture “does work” in prying information out of terror suspects. Giving ground, he said his defense secretary’s opposition would override his own belief. Hours later he stood at the Pentagon as Mattis, the retired general, was sworn in as the military’s chief.

Trump was also pressed on whether he would revert back to Bush-era use of torture, in the news since The Associated Press and other news organizations obtained copies of a draft executive order signaling sweeping changes to U.S. interrogation and detention policy.

Trump said he would defer to the views of Mattis, who has questioned the effectiveness of such practices as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

“He has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding, or however you want to define it. … I don’t necessarily agree. But I would tell you that he will override because I’m giving him that power. He’s an expert,” Trump said.


Mattis has said that he does not believe torture works. This means that if Trump keeps his word, the U.S. will remain torture-free in its interrogation methods.

And this has broader implications for the future, too– if Trump is showing that he is willing to defer to the better judgment of the experts he puts into these positions, and he sticks by that, then it could very well be the case that we will see a Trump presidency in which the boogyman tyrannical practices promised by the media spin will actually not happen. Instead, we may see… Dare I say… A humbler Trump?

Always worth holding out hope for, at least.


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