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Trump blames Brussels blasts on ‘liberal’ laws, plays torture card as GOP rivals seek Muslim ban

AFP-JIJI/reuters

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the United States should use waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques when questioning terror suspects, and renewed his call for tougher U.S. border security after the attacks in Brussels.

The billionaire businessman, in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program, said authorities “should be able to do whatever they have to do” to gain information in an effort to thwart future attacks.

“Waterboarding would be fine. If they can expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding,” Trump said, adding he believed torture could spark useful leads for officials. “You have to get the information from these people.”

Waterboarding, the practice of pouring water over someone’s face to simulate drowning as an interrogation tactic, was banned by President Barack Obama days after he took office in 2009. Critics call it torture.

“I am in the camp where you have to get the information, and you have to get it rapidly,” Trump said, adding “liberal” laws in Europe had made it hard to counter potential attacks.

Trump, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, also reiterated the need for tougher measures to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, particularly Syrian refugees, across the border.

“As president … I would be very, very tough on the borders, and I would be not allowing certain people to come into this country without absolute perfect documentation,” said Trump, campaigning to become the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election that will decide Obama’s successor.

The Brussels attacks brought national security back to the top of the 2016 presidential election agenda, possibly sharpening divisions between Trump’s isolationist approach to foreign policy and his Republican rivals’ more traditional interventionist outlook.

On Monday, Trump expressed skepticism about the U.S. role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and said the United States should significantly cut spending on the defense alliance.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital that killed at least 30 people.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton acknowledged Americans have a right to be frightened after a spate of recent attacks but said military leaders have found techniques like waterboarding are not effective.

“We’ve got to work this through consistent with our values,” she said on NBC, adding officials “do not need to resort to torture, but they are going to need more help.”

Trump’s top Republican rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, renewed his call for an immediate halt to Obama’s plan to admit thousands of Syrian refugees to the United States and suggested heightened police scrutiny of neighborhoods with large Muslim populations.

“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” he said in a statement.

Cruz also criticized Trump’s call for cutting the U.S. spending on NATO, which he said should join the United States in “utterly destroying ISIS,” an acronym for Islamic State.

Republican rival John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, struck a more diplomatic tone after the attacks, pledging to “redouble our efforts with our allies” and saying the United States “must strengthen our alliances” in the face of acts of terror.

Earlier attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, have shocked Americans and pushed security issues to the forefront of the White House campaign debate.

When 130 people were killed in Paris in November, the threat of terrorism jumped from fifth to first on a Reuters/Ipsos poll list of the country’s most important problems and remained there until the economy moved back to the top of the list in mid-January.

Walid Phares, named by Trump this week as one of his foreign policy experts, told Reuters the Brussels attacks would force Europe and the United States to “reassess” counterterrorism strategies in “identifying the radicalized elements and also the type of protection soft targets need.”

Trump looks to take another step toward winning the Republican presidential nomination in contests in Arizona and Utah on Tuesday, aiming to deal another setback to the party establishment’s flagging stop-Trump movement.

He has a big lead in convention delegates who will pick the Republican nominee, defying weeks of attacks from members of the party establishment worried he will lead the Republicans to defeat in November.

In Arizona, one of the U.S. states that borders Mexico, Trump’s hard-line immigration message is popular and he leads in polls, while in Utah Trump lags in polls behind Cruz.

In addition to the temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, Trump has called for the building of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to halt illegal immigration.

Republican presidential candidates seized on the terror bombings in Brussels Tuesday to demand that Muslim refugees be kept out of the United States, blaming Europe’s open immigration policies for the outrage.

Trump repeated his call for closing U.S. borders “until we figure out what’s going on” — a call Clinton said was unrealistic.

“Belgium is a horror show right now. Terrible things are happening. People are leaving. People are afraid. This all happened because, frankly, there’s no assimilation,” he said on NBC News.

Cruz also called for suspending the resettlement of refugees from countries where the Islamic State group or al-Qaida control territory, saying the administration’s plans to bring in tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the civil war there “makes no sense.”

“We need a president who unleashes the full force and fury on ISIS and utterly destroys them. That the only way to keep us safe,” he said.

The apparently coordinated bomb blasts in Brussels — for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility — ripped through the city’s international airport and a metro train in a station, killing about 35 people.

The attacks came four days after Belgian authorities arrested Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

In the United States, the scenes from Brussels added fuel to an already inflamed Republican debate over immigration and the conduct of a U.S.-led war against Islamic State fighters, who control large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

“Belgium is no longer Belgium. Belgium is not the Belgium you and I knew from 20 years ago, which was one of the most beautiful and safest cities in the world,” Trump told NBC.

Asked what he would say to the American people in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack, he added: “We are going to be very vigilant and tough. We’re not going to allow it to happen to our country.

“If it happens, we’ll find the people who did it and they’ll suffer greatly.”

Speaking to Fox News, Trump — who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States — described Brussels as once being “a beautiful city, a beautiful place with zero crime. And now it’s a disaster city. It’s a total disaster.

“We have to be very careful in the United States. We have to be very, very vigilant as to who we allow into this country.”

Clinton — who could possibly face Trump in November’s general election — countered that it was “unrealistic to say we’re going to completely shut down our borders to everyone.”

Kasich, the more moderate of the three remaining candidates in the Republican race, urged Obama to move quickly to examine U.S. vulnerabilities and “dig in and begin to rebuild the intelligence we need worldwide.”

“I think Europe popped up its doors without having a proper vetting process,” he said, referring to the waves of immigrants from the Syrian civil war that have pushed into Europe.

He faulted Obama for not acting forcefully enough to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad and for failing to establish no-fly zones.

  • tisho

    Again he points out the problem correctly, but his solutions are once again terribly wrong. In Europe, it is the social programs and big welfare state that is causing these problems. Most of these terrorists are second generation born in Europe, so they are not immigrants, but Europeans. The problem is that the big welfare states have big social programs, they believe they can integrate people with social programs, the result is that, the big minimum wage and high regulations prevent these people from getting jobs and entering the labor market, and the big welfare state only makes it worse because it makes it easy for them to stop looking for job and rely on the benefits, this is how these muslim ghettos are form in countries like France and Belgium, and out of these ghettos is where these radicals come from. Anyone ever wonder how come the US doesn’t have a problem with muslim integration? Because the US has (had) free market, no social programs, no integration problems, you come here and you get a job and you take care of yourself, the state does not take care of you, so all kinds of people with all kinds of cultures integrate themselves through the labor market, in comparison in Europe, they set the ladder so high that these people can’t possibly climb it, they believe in forceful integration, as a result these people can’t get a job, they can ‘t enter the labor market, they can’t integrate, and this leads to ghetto formations and eventually terrorism. I have a feeling the refugee crisis in many ways will be a break it or make it for Europe. Either they have to take advice from free market economists and reform their welfare states, or this crisis will only go worse. The German labor minister was criticized for suggesting that the minimum wage law must be excluded for all refugees, otherwise they will never be able to enter the labor market.

  • tisho

    Again he points out the problem correctly, but his solutions are once again terribly wrong. In Europe, it is the social programs and big welfare state that is causing these problems. Most of these terrorists are second generation born in Europe, so they are not immigrants, but Europeans. The problem is that the big welfare states have big social programs, they believe they can integrate people with social programs, the result is that, the big minimum wage and high regulations prevent these people from getting jobs and entering the labor market, and the big welfare state only makes it worse because it makes it easy for them to stop looking for job and rely on the benefits, this is how these muslim ghettos are form in countries like France and Belgium, and out of these ghettos is where these radicals come from. Anyone ever wonder how come the US doesn’t have a problem with muslim integration? Because the US has (had) free market, no social programs, no integration problems, you come here and you get a job and you take care of yourself, the state does not take care of you, so all kinds of people with all kinds of cultures integrate themselves through the labor market, in comparison in Europe, they set the ladder so high that these people can’t possibly climb it, they believe in forceful integration, as a result these people can’t get a job, they can ‘t enter the labor market, they can’t integrate, and this leads to ghetto formations and eventually terrorism. I have a feeling the refugee crisis in many ways will be a break it or make it for Europe. Either they have to take advice from free market economists and reform their welfare states, or this crisis will only go worse. The German labor minister was criticized for suggesting that the minimum wage law must be excluded for all refugees, otherwise they will never be able to enter the labor market.

  • tisho

    Again he points out the problem correctly, but his solutions are once again terribly wrong. In Europe, it is the social programs and big welfare state that is causing these problems. Most of these terrorists are second generation born in Europe, so they are not immigrants, but Europeans. The problem is that the big welfare states have big social programs, they believe they can integrate people with social programs, the result is that, the big minimum wage and high regulations prevent these people from getting jobs and entering the labor market, and the big welfare state only makes it worse because it makes it easy for them to stop looking for job and rely on the benefits, this is how these muslim ghettos are form in countries like France and Belgium, and out of these ghettos is where these radicals come from. Anyone ever wonder how come the US doesn’t have a problem with muslim integration? Because the US has (had) free market, no social programs, no integration problems, you come here and you get a job and you take care of yourself, the state does not take care of you, so all kinds of people with all kinds of cultures integrate themselves through the labor market, in comparison in Europe, they set the ladder so high that these people can’t possibly climb it, they believe in forceful integration, as a result these people can’t get a job, they can ‘t enter the labor market, they can’t integrate, and this leads to ghetto formations and eventually terrorism. I have a feeling the refugee crisis in many ways will be a break it or make it for Europe. Either they have to take advice from free market economists and reform their welfare states, or this crisis will only go worse. The German labor minister was criticized for suggesting that the minimum wage law must be excluded for all refugees, otherwise they will never be able to enter the labor market.

  • tisho

    Again he points out the problem correctly, but his solutions are once again terribly wrong. In Europe, it is the social programs and big welfare state that is causing these problems. Most of these terrorists are second generation born in Europe, so they are not immigrants, but Europeans. The problem is that the big welfare states have big social programs, they believe they can integrate people with social programs, the result is that, the big minimum wage and high regulations prevent these people from getting jobs and entering the labor market, and the big welfare state only makes it worse because it makes it easy for them to stop looking for job and rely on the benefits, this is how these muslim ghettos are form in countries like France and Belgium, and out of these ghettos is where these radicals come from. Anyone ever wonder how come the US doesn’t have a problem with muslim integration? Because the US has (had) free market, no social programs, no integration problems, you come here and you get a job and you take care of yourself, the state does not take care of you, so all kinds of people with all kinds of cultures integrate themselves through the labor market, in comparison in Europe, they set the ladder so high that these people can’t possibly climb it, they believe in forceful integration, as a result these people can’t get a job, they can ‘t enter the labor market, they can’t integrate, and this leads to ghetto formations and eventually terrorism. I have a feeling the refugee crisis in many ways will be a break it or make it for Europe. Either they have to take advice from free market economists and reform their welfare states, or this crisis will only go worse. The German labor minister was criticized for suggesting that the minimum wage law must be excluded for all refugees, otherwise they will never be able to enter the labor market.

  • tisho

    Again he points out the problem correctly, but his solutions are once again terribly wrong. In Europe, it is the social programs and big welfare state that is causing these problems. Most of these terrorists are second generation born in Europe, so they are not immigrants, but Europeans. The problem is that the big welfare states have big social programs, they believe they can integrate people with social programs, the result is that, the big minimum wage and high regulations prevent these people from getting jobs and entering the labor market, and the big welfare state only makes it worse because it makes it easy for them to stop looking for job and rely on the benefits, this is how these muslim ghettos are form in countries like France and Belgium, and out of these ghettos is where these radicals come from. Anyone ever wonder how come the US doesn’t have a problem with muslim integration? Because the US has (had) free market, no social programs, no integration problems, you come here and you get a job and you take care of yourself, the state does not take care of you, so all kinds of people with all kinds of cultures integrate themselves through the labor market, in comparison in Europe, they set the ladder so high that these people can’t possibly climb it, they believe in forceful integration, as a result these people can’t get a job, they can ‘t enter the labor market, they can’t integrate, and this leads to ghetto formations and eventually terrorism. I have a feeling the refugee crisis in many ways will be a break it or make it for Europe. Either they have to take advice from free market economists and reform their welfare states, or this crisis will only go worse. The German labor minister was criticized for suggesting that the minimum wage law must be excluded for all refugees, otherwise they will never be able to enter the labor market.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Dye his hair black, give him a brown shirt and funny little mustache. Certainly seems appropriate.

  • A.J. Sutter

    When is one of the other Presidential candidates going to get around to accusing Trump of endangering American fighting men and women: If the US will ignore its treaty obligations regarding torture, then some other country — like Russia, China, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen or any other country who’s signed the same UN treaty — may feel perfectly justified to torture captured American service personnel.