Trump Changes Tune on Torturing Terrorists, Killing Their Families
'As president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2016 3:44 PM CST
Donald Trump: For killing the families of terrorists in violation of the Geneva Convention before he was against it.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – Apparently having slept on it, on Friday Donald Trump walked back the endorsement he gave to torturing terrorists and killing their families during the GOP debate Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We should go for waterboarding, and we should go tougher than waterboarding," CNN quotes Trump as saying during the debate. The BBC points out the US has banned waterboarding, which is "widely considered" to be torture. Trump also said he would authorize the military to target the families of terrorists as a deterrent. Critics say both of those policies would violate international laws, including the Geneva Convention, and possibly lead to war crime charges.

"I will not order a military officer to disobey the law," Trump said in a statement on Friday. "It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans.” CNN calls it a dramatic shift "in less than 24 hours." And the Journal notes Trump's reversal comes "after months of insisting that he wouldn’t back down." But he had been facing serious criticism over his statements. A former CIA director last week said the military would refuse to obey orders to torture terrorists or kill their families. Trump addressed that possibility during the debate, saying "They're not going to refuse me" and "If I say do it, they’re going to do it." A former secretary of defense said the plan to kill terrorists' families, especially, goes against "everything the United States stands for in this world."