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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate candidate Todd Wilcox: Waterboarding works

Florida Senate candidate Todd Wilcox speaks to members and guests of the Plant City Republican Women Federated Women's Club meeting at Uncle Mikes's Smokehouse in Plant City on April 21.

DAVID W. DOONAN | Special To The Times

Florida Senate candidate Todd Wilcox speaks to members and guests of the Plant City Republican Women Federated Women's Club meeting at Uncle Mikes's Smokehouse in Plant City on April 21.

Torturing suspected terrorists works, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate told the Miami Herald this week.

Todd Wilcox, the Green Beret-turned-CIA officer-turned-defense contractor running for Marco Rubio's seat, said in an interview that harsh interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- should have a place in fighting terrorism, though he suggested the outlawed practices must be used sparingly.

"I can tell you that the enhanced interrogation techniques that have since been banned by this administration -- specifically waterboarding -- work," Wilcox said. "They work on the terrorists, and there's a proven history of that."

His answer came in response to a question about the techniques. Campaign spokeswoman Erin Isaac told the Herald that Wilcox does not consider waterboarding to be "torture."

In the interview, Wilcox added that he has "access to a lot of information that the rest of the public may not know" and noted that some military officers get waterboarded as part of their training.

"It's a tool," Wilcox said. "Now, do we use it over and over and over again, 186 times? I don't think that's the smartest approach. But tying one hand behind our back because a hard-left, progressive, liberal senator decides that that's not the way to go -- I don't think that's the best way to execute a war. These guys will lop off your head if they get your hands on you."

A Senate Intelligence Committee report led by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and released in 2014 found the CIA engaged in brutal tactics that were less effective than the agency had acknowledged.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said earlier this year that "torture works" -- before reversing himself to say he'd follow existing laws but try to broaden them to legalize controversial interrogation techniques.

[Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2016 10:46am]

    

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