Retired Gen. Michael Flynn is known for his focus on Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim sentiments, as well as a combative management style, yet he has come out against torture several times, arguing that using controversial interrogation techniques hurts the United States, according to comments surfaced by CNN on Monday.
CNN uncovered statements Flynn has made between 2014 and 2016 expressing wariness about the United States’ use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding, which many have argued constitutes torture.
“I’ll tell you what, I think it’s very dangerous for a time, because it exposes the United States to something that we — I think history will look back on it and it won’t be a pretty picture, regardless of all the people that you have heard in the media, what they have said,” Flynn said at a Carnegie Council event in December 2014, according to CNN.
In 2015, Flynn, asked about torture practices like waterboarding during an interview with Al Jazeera, said that he never used torture during interrogations and rebuked the practice. Flynn said that “history is not gonna look kind on the – on those actions that you’re describing right now, and we will be held, we should be held accountable for many, many years to come.”
CNN also noted that in an interview with Politico published in October 2016, Flynn still seemed wary of using torture, but said that he might approve of it in certain circumstances.
“I would not want to return to ‘enhanced techniques,’ because I helped rewrite the manual for interrogations,” he said. “Having said that, if the nation was in grave danger from a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction, and we had certain individuals in our custody with information that might avoid it, then I would probably OK enhanced interrogation techniques within certain limits.”
Flynn’s views on torture and waterboarding stand in stark contrast to those of Donald Trump, who said on the campaign trail that the U.S. should “go for waterboarding and tougher than waterboarding.”
When asked on Sunday if Trump would renew the torture practice, Vice President-elect Mike Pence did not rule it out.
“What I can tell you is that going forward, as he outlined in that famous speech in Ohio, that a President Donald Trump is going to focus on confronting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to this country,” Pence said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” when asked whether Trump would bring back waterboarding. “And we’re going to have a president again who will never say what we’ll never do.”