On torture as a tool against terror suspects

U-turn after chat with retired US general

NEW YORK • US President-elect Donald Trump changed his mind on the need for torture as a tool in the fight against terrorism. He had endorsed it repeatedly during his election campaign.

His turnabout on the usefulness of waterboarding and other forms of torture came after talking to retired general James Mattis, who headed the US Central Command.

"He said, 'I have never found it to be useful'," Mr Trump said, describing the former general's view of torturing terrorism suspects.

He said Gen Mattis found more value in building trust and rewarding cooperation with terror suspects. " 'Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I'll do better.' I was very impressed by (his) answer," Mr Trump said.

Mr Trump conceded that torture is "not going to make the kind of a difference that a lot of people are thinking".

He also repeated that Gen Mattis was being "seriously considered" for the post of defence secretary.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'U-turn after chat with retired US general'. Print Edition | Subscribe