by Raha Wala, Director of National Security Advocacy, Human Rights First
President Trump during the campaign said he wanted to bring back waterboarding and "much worse.” He went so far as to say that even if torture doesn’t work, we should still use it on suspected terrorists, because “they deserve it anyway.” Still, he has so far deferred to Secretary Mattis and his other top national security advisors, who have advised that waterboarding and other torture tactics are unlawful and inappropriate. Just last week, Christopher Wray, president Trump’s nominee for FBI Director said: “torture is wrong, it is unacceptable, it is illegal and I think it is ineffective.”
Unfortunately, that important statement of principle will be undermined if the Senate confirms Trump’s nominee for a key legal post in his administration. Steven Bradbury is most prominently known as one of the infamous “torture memo” authors for his role in providing legal justification for the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program in the George W. Bush administration. As head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice from 2005-2009, Mr. Bradbury wrote legal memoranda justifying waterboarding; sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours; holding detainees in painful, prolonged stress positions; forced nudity; locking detainees in cramped boxes the size of dog crates; physically assaulting detainees by slapping them or slamming them into walls; and other forms of torture and abuse. He should not now be rewarded with confirmation to a general counsel post.