23:27 GMT28 January 2020
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    US Republican presidential candidates’ support for torture is fully in line with the beliefs of the majority of Americans, first commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility Michael Lehnert told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — "If 58 percent of the people in this country think that torture is okay, I am not necessarily as disturbed by the presidential candidates as I am by the American people," Lehnert said on Wednesday, referring to a 2014 poll.

    Lehnert, who was appointed to open the Gitmo facility in January 2002, added that the candidates are reflecting the views of voters.

    "If you want to make a claim towards American exceptionalism, you don’t make that statement without being truly exceptional. And torturing people is not exceptional," he asserted.

    In recent months, Republican front-runner Donald Trump has advocated bringing back waterboarding terrorist suspects. He also told supporters at a campaign event that "torture works."

    Other leading Republican candidates including Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have repeatedly supported keeping the Gitmo detention facility open, though neither has openly advocated torture.

    A 2014 ABC News-Washington Post poll revealed that 58 percent of Americans believe that the torture of suspected terrorists can be often or sometimes justified. The study also found that nearly two-thirds of US citizens believe that previous CIA practices of torturing terrorist suspects produced valuable intelligence.

    Related:

    Torture Probe: Ex-Gitmo Commander Blows Off French Subpoena
    Over 120 Countries Torture, Ill-Treat People – Amnesty International
    Tags:
    Gitmo, American exceptionalism, torture, election, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, United States
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