US Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, who has changed his stance on torture multiple times, on Wednesday falsely claimed that the United States has “never engaged in torture.”
Appearing on Fox & Friends, Cruz was asked whether he would engage in torture, enhanced interrogation, or waterboarding — methods which Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has emphatically championed, despite the practice being illegal and ineffective.
“America has never engaged in torture and we’re not about to,” Cruz responded.
In 2014, following the release of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence’s torture report, Cruz spoke at the Heritage Foundation denouncing the practice, declaring that “America does not need torture to protect ourselves.”
“Torture is wrong, unambiguously. Period. The end,” he said.
The 2014 report detailed horrific abuses to which detainees were subjected, including beatings, threats to their families, and sexual abuse and humiliation, to name only a few. The report states, “interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.”
In his 2015 memoir, Cruz detailed his own father’s torture in Cuba in the 1950’s while the latter was a young revolutionary. Cruz wrote, “men with clubs beat him…. They bashed in his front teeth until they dangled from his mouth.”
In June 2015, Cruz voted for the McCain-Feinstein amendment that limits the use of torture under future presidents. It requires all interrogations to comply with the Army Field Manual which forbids waterboarding, electric shock, the use of dogs, any use of sexual abuse and humiliation, hypothermia, and mock execution, Politico reported at the time. The website also noted that all of these methods were used in the CIA interrogation program following the attacks of September 11.
“Torture is wrong, unambiguously,” Cruz said after his vote. “Civilized nations do not engage in torture and Congress has rightly acted to make absolutely clear that the United States will not engage in torture.”
Last month, the candidate told the Associated Press that, “there is a reason the bad guys engage in torture. ISIS engages in torture. Iran engages in torture. America does not need to torture to protect ourselves.”
During the interview, Cruz repeated the term “carpet-bombing” to describe his plans to defeat Daesh. When host Brian Kilmeade explained to the candidate that carpet-bombing means “killing a lot of citizens,” Cruz doubled down, claiming that he will bomb everything from infrastructure to communications.
“As president, I will utterly destroy ISIS. We will use overwhelming air power, carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” he said, giving rise to the notion that Cruz appears to actively stand firm against the use of torture, but has his own definition for the word.