Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly news that Representative–and candidate for governor–Pete Hoekstra supports torture. He’s been a strong proponent of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” program and has said it was successful in preventing terrorist attacks.
However, Hoekstra has recently backed off a bit, still arguing that the interrogations produced useful intelligence, but speaking very carefully about his own support for the program.
In the Wall Street Journal, Hoekstra criticized President Obama’s release of government memos on torture and said their release makes it harder for intelligence agencies to function. He also said that their release was unnecessary, as Congressional support for the tactics was well known:
It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.
Of Hoekstra’s current view on torture, The Grand Rapids Press reported:
In an interview Friday, Hoekstra stopped short of endorsing the interrogation technique, in which a person is made to experience the sensation of drowning.
“I didn’t go through the decision-making process back in 2003 when the president and the leadership decided it was an appropriate way to go,” Hoekstra said.
“I don’t know whether I would reach the same decision today.”
However, he added, “I think in total the process we used — enhanced interrogation techniques — kept America safer, prevented attacks and there are Americans alive today because of it.”
Clearly, Hoekstra believes the program worked–he’s just hoping to minimize it as an issue for both himself and Republicans. Hoekstra says he wasn’t aware of waterboarding being used when it happened, but he has supported its use. In the past, Hoekstra has voted against banning tactics including waterboarding, electric shock, beatings and mock executions and has said that those do not constitute torture because they do not inflict physical injury.