CIA chief 'will quit if next president orders waterboarding'

WASHINGTON • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director John Brennan said he would resign if the next president ordered his agency to resume waterboarding for suspected militants, an apparent reference to comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump embracing the banned interrogation method.

"I can say that 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. They'll have to find another director," said Mr Brennan, who did not mention Mr Trump by name.

Mr Brennan, who has been director since 2013, made the comment while responding to a question on drone strike policy after speaking at the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy institute.

He previously said he will refuse to resume the practice, which simulates drowning and was used by the CIA on three suspected militants when Mr George W. Bush was president. But his pledge to quit was his most emphatic affirmation of his position to date.

Mr Trump has said he would re-authorise waterboarding immediately if elected, as "torture works". At an April 20 rally in Indianapolis, he recalled being asked about waterboarding during a previous debate.

"They asked me, 'What do you think about waterboarding, Mr Trump?' I said I love it. I love it, I think it's great. And I said the only thing is, we should make it much tougher than waterboarding," he said.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order after taking office in January 2009 that banned the practice and other "enhanced interrogation techniques". Such executive orders can be rescinded by a president's successors.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'CIA chief 'will quit if next president orders waterboarding''. Print Edition | Subscribe