Congress should halt use of waterboarding
The Bush administration has acknowledged the use of waterboarding in the interrogation of terrorism suspects in 2002 and 2003.
AFTER years of equivocating, the Bush administration has acknowledged its use of waterboarding in the interrogation of accused terrorists but refuses to acknowledge the tactic as a form of torture. Congress might have to take action to compel President Bush to recognize international law and not authorize the tactic's use through the remainder of his administration.
Both Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spoken out against the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has been a leading critic. Administration officials admitted to its use nearly five years ago but would not rule it out in the future.
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told a congressional committee last week that three al-Qaida suspects were subjected to waterboarding in 2002 and 2003 and suggested it might be "lawful under current statute." A White House spokesman said earlier in the week that its use in the future would require approval of the attorney general and the president.
Waterboarding has been used since the Spanish Inquisition and was declared illegal by U.S. generals during the Vietnam War. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, who said during his confirmation hearing in November that he regarded it as "repugnant," says CIA officers cannot be prosecuted for having used the tactic because it had been approved by the Justice Department.
Vice President Dick Cheney has praised the CIA's use of "a tougher program, for tougher customers," and said he would "support those decisions again today." Congress instead should assure that the White House recognizes that waterboarding is prohibited under international law as torture.
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