Trump on waterboarding: 'Nobody knows if it's torture'

Story highlights

  • "You know they haven't been able to define waterboarding. They don't know if it's torture," Trump said
  • Trump has previously referred to waterboarding as "sort of the least form of torture"

(CNN)Donald Trump still isn't sure if waterboarding amounts to torture.

Despite previously acknowledging that the controversial technique is torture, the GOP front-runner appeared to backtrack on Thursday, saying that "nobody knows if it's torture."
"You know they haven't been able to define waterboarding. They don't know if it's torture. If it is, it might be a little too tough, we can't be nice," Trump said during a campaign event in Gaffney, South Carolina.
    Trump has previously referred to waterboarding as "sort of the least form of torture" or "the minimal form." And in the last week, Trump has called for the U.S. to go beyond waterboarding and use other methods of torture in its fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
    The technique, which gives the detainee the sensation of being drowned, has been classified as torture by experts, international non-governmental organizations and top officials in both Democratic and Republican parties.
    In 2014, President Barack Obama said in regard to the use of waterboarding during President George W. Bush's administration that "we tortured some folks," and a Senate Intelligence Committee report released that year also classified the practice as torture.
    Trump once again on Thursday suggested that the U.S. should use more severe forms of torture to obtain information from terrorist suspects and suggested ISIS militants would laugh if they heard the debate in the U.S. over waterboarding.
    "We're soft and we're weak and we can't be that," Trump said.
    Trump claimed on Tuesday that "torture works," though non-torture-based interrogation techniques have been proven to be more effective in securing accurate and reliable information.
    Torture is also banned by international conventions that have been ratified by the U.S.