Senator Chuck Schumer Flip-Flops On Torture

December 11, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

“I’ve read the report and it is profoundly disturbing; we should never go back to the days when our government sanctioned torture.”

Those are words released in a statement by the office of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday in response to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page summary of the CIA’s interrogation methods against terrorist suspects during the Bush era. Appropriately, Schumer joins a vocal chorus of politicians, activists, and political pundits who are outraged over the CIA’s gruesome and unsanctioned methods.

But in 2004, Schumer wasn’t so upset by the idea of using “fairly severe” torture against suspects. In fact, he encouraged it. Here’s his justification, given while discussing interrogation techniques at a the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 8th, 2004:

And I’d like to interject a note of balance here. There are times when we all get in high dudgeon. We ought to be reasonable about this. I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never, ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. Take the hypothetical: If we knew that there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say, Do what you have to do. So it’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.

It goes to show that when you see what’s happening in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.

(Photo: Chuck Schumer)