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Donald Trump: Bring back waterboarding to fight Islamic State

"I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they'd do to us," Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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Donald Trump said the United States should bring back waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques to fight the Islamic State, saying "we have to be strong" in the face of extreme brutality.

"You know, they don't use waterboarding over there," the GOP front-runner told George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "They use chopping off people's heads. They use drowning people. . . . We have to be tough."

Stephanopoulos was asking Trump about comments he made recently to Yahoo News that after Paris, the United States needs to be doing things that were "unthinkable" a year ago to fight the Islamic State.

Trump affirmed Sunday that waterboarding was what he had in mind.

"I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us," Trump said. ". . . I would absolutely bring back interrogation, and strong interrogation."

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is second to Trump in a new national Washington Post-ABC News poll, also didn't rule out waterboarding in an interview that aired Sunday with Stephanopoulos, though Carson didn't explicitly endorse it like Trump did.

"I agree that there's no such thing as political correctness when you're fighting an enemy who wants to destroy you and everything that you have anything to do with," Carson said. "And I'm not one who is real big on telling the enemy what we're going to do and what we're not going to do."

President Obama banned waterboarding, which the Associated Press reports was used by the CIA for at least three suspects in the 9/11 terrorist attacks under the President Bush administration.

But according to recent polling, Americans don't seem to agree it should be taken off the table entirely to fight terrorism.

In a December 2014 CBS News poll, 49 percent of Americans said it is "sometimes justified" to use waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation tactics to get information from a suspected terrorist.

That answer split sharply along partisan lines, with 73 percent of Republicans saying it is "sometimes justified," 50 percent of independents saying the same thing and only 32 percent of Democrats agreeing. In that same poll, 69 percent of Americans said they consider waterboarding a form of torture, and 57 percent said they think it and other aggressive tactics are still being used by the CIA.

Trump's waterboarding comments were the latest in a series of hard-line, inflammatory remarks he's made after Paris. He has suggested surveying or closing some mosques in America and calling for a database of all Muslims in the United States.

And on Sunday, Trump said yet again that he saw some Muslims in New Jersey cheering the day the World Trade Center towers fell — a rumor that has been repeatedly disproved. He first talked about seeing those images at a rally Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.