"If there's an American strategic advantage, it is our values. We must protect our values at all costs," Flynn said in 2014.
Trump has endorsed torture as an interrogation tactic.
Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, has in past interviews strongly criticized torture, drone strikes, and night raids conducted by the U.S. Army.
The more moderate views expressed by Flynn in the past run counter to the president-elect’s, who has repeatedly said he will bring back waterboarding and go even further in questioning suspected terrorists. Trump has not laid out a detailed view on how he would approach drone warfare, but he has suggested he would increase airstrikes against ISIS and once said he would “take out” the families of terrorists.
Flynn did not respond to a request for an interview on how he would advise the president-elect on these issues.
Speaking at Carnegie Council in December 2014, Flynn condemned the use of torture, saying it was against American values.
“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. “I think it was pretty telling – I caught a little bit of Senator Feinstein’s statement on the Hill today, and I was able to read Senator McCain’s response. I would encourage all of you to read Senator McCain’s response. Senator Feinstein was incredibly articulate about why the report – I was interested to see what the other side would say. In this case, I thought Senator McCain’s very thoughtful – from an individual who really experienced enormous levels of torture himself – what his response was going to be.”
“If there’s an American strategic advantage, it is our values. We must protect our values at all costs,” he added.
In June, Trump asked a crowd in Ohio, “What do you think about waterboarding?”
“I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough,” he added.
Earlier this year, Flynn acknowledged he’d be okay with “enhanced interrogation” with “certain limits” if the nation was in grave danger of a terrorist attack. But, in an interview with Mehdi Hasan of al-Jazeera in August 2015, Flynn again said history would look poorly on the US for using torture.
“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,” he said.
In the same interview, Flynn noted the US would need to invest more in solutions to terrorism, like fixing poor social and economic conditions.
“I think that we have invested in, in more conflict instead of actually investing in solutions. So, and when I say that, what I mean is that we invest in more drones, we invest in more bombs, we invest in more weapons, we invest in more ammunition, we invest in more guys to go out and kill more guys. That’s investing in conflict, instead of really taking a serious look and say, ‘What … what are the big excuses that these guys are using?’ And if it’s lack of, you know, if it’s poor economic conditions, if it’s poor social conditions, then let’s fix those. But those kinds of things aren’t gonna get fixed overnight. And the leaders of the Middle East have to decide that that’s what they want to do.”
Flynn later said in the interview with Hasan that night raids and drone strikes created more terrorists than they kill.
“Well, maybe another show, but the drone strikes for example, many have argued, they create more terrorists than they kill. The night raids in Afghanistan, many have argued they create more terrorists than they get,” asked Hasan.
“Yeah, I don’t disagree, I don’t disagree with that. I think that that’s – that’s conflict. When you invest in conflict – when you drop a bomb from a drone, you’re investing, you are gonna cause more damage than you’re gonna cause good,” he said. “And think that there should be a different approach, absolutely. Absolutely.”
Flynn also agreed with the assessment that prison systems were creating more terrorists and worsening the problem by radicalizing more potential terrorists.
“Yeah, there’s no, there’s no doubt – there’s no doubt that the prison system that was, that was the Iraqi prison system, became, you know, places, training ground, the training ground for what we’re facing today,” Flynn said.