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Former Navy interrogator tells US House panel waterboarding is torture

[JURIST] Malcolm W. Nance, a former Navy interrogation instructor and counterterrorism intelligence specialist, said Thursday that the practice of waterboarding [JURIST news archive] "is torture and should be banned," during a hearing [notice] held by the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website]. Nance said he both underwent waterboarding during his own Navy training and practiced the method on other special forces trainees, but said that harsh interrogation methods were unreliable for eliciting accurate information. Nance expressed similar opposition to waterboarding in an October post [text] to the Small Wars Journal blog. Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website], also testified in opposition to the practice at the hearing Thursday as the ACLU outlined ways the federal government has already declared waterboarding to be illegal [press release]. Another witness, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, had agreed to testify that waterboarding hindered the prosecution of suspected terrorists, but said that he had been prevented from testifying by the Department of Defense [AP report].

Waterboarding became a key issue in the confirmation of US Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey [WH profile; JURIST news archive] when Mukasey refused to say that the practice constituted torture. The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted [JURIST report] 11-8 Tuesday to support Mukasey for the next US attorney general, but several senators, including committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), objected [JURIST report] to his refusal to unequivocally denounce waterboarding as torture. Mukasey's nomination [SJC materials] now goes to the full US Senate for a final vote. AP has more.

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