CIA Director: I'd Quit Before I'd Ever Order Waterboarding

Even if the president ordered him to, John Brennan says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2016 8:43 AM CDT
CIA Director: I'd Quit Before I'd Ever Order Waterboarding
CIA Director John Brennan speaks about CIA strategy on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Donald Trump has expressed his enthusiasm for waterboarding, and CIA Director John Brennan has responded that he would absolutely refuse to carry out orders to do so. But during a Q&A Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, Brennan issued his strongest statement yet, noting he would step down as head of the CIA if he were ever asked to use waterboarding, Reuters reports. "As long as I'm director of CIA, irrespective of what the president says, I'm not going to be the director of CIA that gives that order," he said. "They'll have to find another director." Brennan emphasizes to the Intercept that his anti-waterboarding stance is his alone, not the official CIA take.

Trump's past statements have included stressing that "torture works," as do "much worse" techniques—all of which he has said he'd reinstate if he makes it to the Oval Office. (He did pull back somewhat later on, saying he "[would] not order a military officer to disobey the law.") And the Hill notes that Brennan himself supported these "enhanced interrogations" immediately after 9/11. He told the Brookings crowd that "there were individuals that were subjected to these […techniques] that subsequent to that provided information that was in fact credible and worthwhile for pursuit." But now he doesn't think it's worth the hit to the country's reputation to return to those methods, all of which are banned by US law, per CBS News. "As long as I'm the director of [the] CIA, we are not going to go down that road again," he said. (More waterboarding stories.)

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