Donald Trump tonight defended his support of waterboarding by citing an apparently apocryphal story of a U.S. general who halted Muslim attacks in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting the rebels with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.
The story about Gen. John Pershing’s efforts to quell the Moro Rebellion around 1911 has been widely discredited. Snopes.com rates it as an unsubstantiated “legend.”
But Trump brought it up during a rally in North Charleston the night before the South Carolina primary: “He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the fifty people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth person he said ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay?”
Trump added, “So we better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant, and we better start using our heads or we’re not going to have a country, folks.”
Trump says waterboarding is “minimal, minimal, minimal torture” compared with the tactics used by Islamic State militants.
Additional Reporting by TPM.