On Tuesday night, in front of a Las Vegas crowd that sat for some five hours while two rounds of Republicans laid bare their plans to protect Americans from terrorism, one candidate’s comments stood, as they tend to, above the rest.
A week before, Donald Trump shared his view on how to use the Internet to fight terrorist groups, specifically the Islamic State. He used notably untechnical language, advocating “closing the Internet up in some way.” Anticipating that people would argue his idea is a violation of the First Amendment, Trump said “these are foolish people, we have a lot of foolish people.”
At last night’s debate, the candidate largely doubled down on such comments, despite their technical and legal infeasibility. Here, thanks to the Washington Post‘s transcription of the entire debate, are Trump’s entire comments on the subject.
[When debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Trump explicitly “Are you referring to closing down actual portions of the Internet?”]
Well, look, this is so easy to answer. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet and it was our idea. What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing.
You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want. I don’t want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth and watching the media talking about how they’re masterminds—these are masterminds. They shouldn’t be using the word “mastermind.” These are thugs. These are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint. But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then on second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. And we can do that if we use our good people.
[Blitzer: “So, are you open to closing parts of the Internet?”]
I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.
[When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul argued that to “close the Internet […] entails getting rid of the First Amendment.”]
So they can kill us, but we can’t kill them? That’s what you’re saying. And as far as the Internet is concerned, we’re not talking about closing the Internet. I’m talking about parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, where ISIS is, spotting it.
Now, you could close it. What I like even better than that is getting our smartest and getting our best to infiltrate their Internet, so that we know exactly where they’re going, exactly where they’re going to be. I like that better.
[Scattered boos are heard in the crowd.]
But we have to— who would be— I just can’t imagine somebody booing.
These are people that want to kill us, folks, and you’re— you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
Photo via Gage Skidmore / flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman