CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News in an exclusive interview that his agency will not engage in harsh "enhanced interrogation" practices, including waterboarding, which critics call torture — even if ordered to by a future president.
"I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I've heard bandied about because this institution needs to endure," Brennan said.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has said that if elected president, he'd authorize the use of waterboarding which was banned in 2009. Trump said the technique, considered torture under international law, and other methods he characterized as "a hell of a lot worse" would be used to extract information from potential terrorists.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is gaining on Trump in some polls, has said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture. He said he would "not bring it back in any sort of widespread use." But as commander-in-chief he would "use whatever enhanced interrogation methods to keep this country safe."
The CIA used waterboarding and other techniques on terrorist suspects after the 9/11 attacks. But, in January 2009, President Barack Obama banned the practices in his first few days in office with an executive order.
When asked specifically about waterboarding Brennan could not have been clearer.
"Absolutely, I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out waterboarding again," he said.
More of the NBC News exclusive interview with CIA Director John Brennan will be broadcast on "NBC Nightly News" on Monday.