Secretary of State John Kerry forcefully denounced the use of torture in his department's annual human rights report on Wednesday—an effort to further underscore the Obama administration's stance on the matter.
If elected president, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said he'd authorize the use of waterboarding, a technique which was banned in 2009. Fellow Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz said he doesn't consider waterboarding torture and, while he wouldn't bring it back as a broad practice, he would "use whatever enhanced interrogation methods to keep this country safe."
While Kerry did not mention any presidential candidate by name, he stressed that the administration is opposed to the practice.
"I want to remove even a scintilla of doubt or confusion that has been caused by statements that others have made in recent weeks and months," Kerry told reporters. "The United States is opposed to the use of torture in any form, at any time, by any government or non-state actor."
Kerry's comments echo those of CIA Director John Brennan who told NBC News in a recent interview that his agency will not participate in "enhanced interrogation" practices, such as waterboarding— even if a future president gave the order to do so.
Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, said while he understands the frustrations of war, there are certain standards that must be met.
"This is a standard that we insist others meet and therefore we must meet this standard ourselves," he said. "I know personally that the fierce anger that arises in war when fellow countrymen are attacked whether they are soldiers or civilians can sometimes prompt fury, rage, revenge, but there is a sharp dividing line between societies that abandon all standards when times are tough and those that due their absolute best to maintain those standards because ultimately upholding core values is what makes a nation strong."