CIA nominee says he would disregard Trump on torture

US Congressman Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, testifies before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 12, 2017, on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Trump administration. / AFP / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump's pick for CIA director says he would not restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques
  • This decry of torture is a pivot from Pompeo, who previously supported the use of torture publicly in Congress

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump's pick for CIA director said Thursday he would not restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques if he were approved for the position.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump's nominee for CIA director, was asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, if he would -- if ordered by President-elect Trump -- restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation tactics the that fall outside of army field manual.
"Absolutely not," Pompeo responded. "Moreover, I can't imagine I would be asked that by the President-elect."
    Later in the hearing, Pompeo was asked by Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico if he would commit to complying with the law and acknowledge that the CIA is out of the enhanced interrogation business.
    "Yes, you have my full commitment," Pompeo said.
    Pompeo has previously supported the use of enhanced interrogation techniques publicly in Congress.
    In response to the 2014 Senate report that found the CIA tortured suspected terrorists, Pompeo, as a congressman, released a statement saying the methods used were constitutional.
    "These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots. The programs being used were within the law, within the Constitution, and conducted with the full knowledge of Sen. Feinstein," he said. "If any individual did operate outside of the program's legal framework, I would expect them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
    Pompeo's position against torture techniques at the hearing falls in line with those of other Trump nominees testifying this week. Secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, homeland security nominee retired Gen. John Kelly and attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions all rejected the practice during their hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, putting them at odds with Trump's campaign rhetoric.
    In his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Kelly said he would "absolutely" abide by US laws prohibiting the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture. That was a break with Trump's campaign promise to bring back waterboarding and "worse" forms of torture in the fight against terrorism.
    Sessions also split with Trump's views on waterboarding. He emphasized that Congress has outlawed the practice since it was used in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks during the George W. Bush administration.
    "Congress has taken an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture in the United States by our military and by all our other departments and agencies," he said.
    During Tillerson's hearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts asked if Tillerson agreed with his fellow Cabinet nominees, including Sessions, that torture would not be recommended to Trump.
    "Well I think others have opined on that sufficiently, and I wouldn't disagree with what they've said," Tillerson responded. "I would agree with what they've said."