In an interview with a British newspaper, Donald Trump offered his first official response to the news that the CIA has killed or otherwise tortured at least 40 people during a program he says was illegal.
“We have to get to the bottom of it, we have to know the truth,” Trump told the Daily Telegraph.
“The CIA is the one that killed these people, and they’re not even in this country, they’re all in other countries.”
The program Trump is referring to is the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (DIP), which Trump has repeatedly accused the CIA of using to kill people, including Americans, since 2004.
The program was first revealed in a 2005 CIA inspector general’s report on the agency, and the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of that report this week.
The Senate report did not make any specific reference to the CIA program, which was formally codified in a new law known as the National Defense Authorization Act.
However, the law provides a legal framework for the CIA to continue to conduct the program, and it appears Trump has agreed with its legality.
The bill authorizes $500 million to conduct a review of the program and provide assistance to those affected by the CIA detention and interrogation program, according to a draft of the bill obtained by VICE News.
Trump did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment about his remarks.
In the article published Thursday, the New York Times quoted former CIA Director John Brennan as saying the agency had killed a “substantial number” of prisoners in the program.
“This was the most brutal program in history, it was illegal, it had no place in our society,” Brennan told the Times.
Brennan said that when he took the job in 2008, he knew the CIA had killed some prisoners, but that it was the “most heinous thing I had ever seen.”
Brennan told VICE News that the program was not meant to target people with suspected ties to al-Qaeda or other violent groups, but instead was intended to capture “bad guys.”
The New York Post reported earlier this month that the government was still planning to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be held in the United States.
Trump said Thursday that he would support the transfer of prisoners to Guantanamo Bay if it was approved by Congress, though he did not specify which legislation would need to be approved.
“If they want to get rid of these people and they want these people out of this country,” Trump said, “they’ve got to do it, I’ve got a lot of respect for what the CIA did.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for additional comment.”
I would love it if they would release these people into the United Kingdom, I would really like to see them out, I think it’s absolutely horrible that they have to go through that.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for additional comment.