Government

Rick Perry won't rule out torture to protect Americans from domestic terrorism

The former Texas governor and possible presidential candidate spoke on the subject today in Des Moines

Republican presidential hopeful former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, visits with Jack Maples of Newton at an Americans for Peace and Prosperity national security forum in Des Moines May 20. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
Republican presidential hopeful former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, visits with Jack Maples of Newton at an Americans for Peace and Prosperity national security forum in Des Moines May 20. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested it would be “inhumane” not to use extreme interrogation measures to obtain information to protect Americans from domestic terrorism.

“I’m going to tell you as president of the United States, I’m going to do everything within reason to find out that information to save those American lives,” the 2016 GOP presidential hopeful said Wednesday at a national security forum in Des Moines.

His definition of “everything within reason” was expansive. Perry would not rule out the use “enhanced interrogation techniques” often considered to be torture — waterboarding, prolonged use of stress positions and rectal feeding.

“If we need to use enhanced interrogation techniques to save your family, would you use them?” Perry answered when asked about the use of those techniques banned by President Barack Obama through an executive order. “I would suggest to you the president of the United States needs to be thinking about this just like you think about it as a husband and or father.”

His comments were well-received by about 100 people at the forum sponsored by American for Peace and Prosperity. The group is inviting presidential hopefuls to speak to Iowans in an effort to raise the level of debate about national security issues.

Perry did not say whether he would reverse Obama’s 2009 executive order calling for prisoners to be “treated humanely” and not subjected to “outrages upon personal dignity.” However, he would not pre-emptively limit what measures intelligence personnel could use if they believed there was an imminent threat to national security.

“If we know for a fact that there are individuals that are going to kill maybe millions of Americans and there are enhance interrogation techniques that would help us get those answer, then I would suggest to you it would be inhumane for you not to use those techniques,” he said to applause.

“Oh, I don’t know, that rectal feeding might be the line,” he added.

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Saying ahead of time what measures were out-of-bounds would be like telling the enemy when American troops would be withdrawn from a combat area, Perry said.

“Having the conversation about where here’s absolutely where we quit is the same as conversation as saying here’s the date we’re going to leave this country,” Perry said. “Why would be put our future in jeopardy by telling the enemy exactly where we’re going to stop, here’s exactly the date we’re going to leave, here’s exactly the technique we won’t use to find out what we need to find out to save, in the case of a nuclear device going off?”

Perry also seemed to reject the argument that torture limitations imposed by the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation that restricts interrogators to humane techniques, a standard that already applies as a matter of law to the U.S. military.

He called it a “huge error” to compare our enemies in World War II to the “radical fanatic that we’re fighting today.”

“These are different times and the techniques that you have to use to continue to keep the people safe are different as well,” he said.

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