Graham: Many 'legal considerations' surround waterboarding

by Gregory Tomlin |

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Evangelist and head of Samaritan's Purse Franklin Graham says he hopes the next president of the United States will "listen to our generals, admirals, and the CIA" on topics such as waterboarding – an interrogation technique which simulates drowning and induces panic.

Graham, who has refused to endorse a candidate, wrote on his Facebook page March 5 that the Republican debate March 3 raised the question as to whether or not waterboarding should be used as a method of obtaining information from terrorists. Graham did not answer the question of whether or not suspects should be waterboarded. Instead, he turned the discussion to military preparedness.

Whoever the next president of the United States ends up being, I pray it will be someone who will listen to our generals, admirals, and the CIA. For the sake of the future of this country, I pray it will be someone who will support our military in doing what they need to do to protect our country and our dearly held freedoms.
- Franklin Graham

"There are many legal considerations, but I can say this for sure. Our military has been cut back – and held back – by the current administration," Graham wrote. "By some analyses, the U.S. military is at its weakest since the end of World War II, while the threats against us are increasing."

During the Republican debate, New York billionaire Donald Trump said he would order waterboarding and even tougher measures while interrogating suspects. Asked if they military would obey the order, Trump said:

"They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse, believe me," Trump said. "I'm a leader. I'm a leader. I've always been a leader. I've never had any problem leading people. If I say 'do it,' they're going to do it. That's what leadership is all about."

"You look at the Middle East, they're chopping off heads; they're chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way, they're drowning people in steel cages, and now we're talking about waterboarding.

"It's fine, and if we want to go stronger, I'd go stronger, too, because frankly, that's the way I feel. Can you imagine these people, these animals, over in the Middle East that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we're having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding."

Trump also said he would target the families of terror suspects if they had provided aid and comfort to terrorists, alleging that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had sent their wives and children home from the U.S. before they conducted the attacks.

"They knew what was happening," Trump said. "The wife knew exactly what was happening."

In reality, no evidence exists that any of the Sept. 11 hijackers had a wife or children living in the U.S., or even that any of them were married at all. Christian "just war" doctrine also includes the doctrine of non-combatant immunity so women and children will not be targeted. 

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, also a retired four-star general, has said the American military would refuse an unlawful order from "President Trump," should he be elected.

"That would be a violation of all the international laws of armed conflict," Hayden said.

Graham said he hopes whoever the next president is, he will listen to his advisers.

"Whoever the next president of the United States ends up being, I pray it will be someone who will listen to our generals, admirals, and the CIA. For the sake of the future of this country, I pray it will be someone who will support our military in doing what they need to do to protect our country and our dearly held freedoms," Graham wrote.

The evangelical preacher and activist then said Islamic militants want to take American freedoms away because "they hate the God of the Bible, and they hate those who follow Him."

"If you're an American, they hate you whether you're a liberal or conservative. They want you to be subject to Sharia law and the god they worship. The god of Islam requires followers to die for him," Graham said. "The God I serve sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for me and to die for you. If you put your faith and trust in Him, He will forgive you of your sins today."