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UN rights expert slams US over waterboarding defense

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak [official website; JURIST news archive] sharply criticized the White House Wednesday for defending the use of waterboarding [JURIST report], calling the practice "absolutely unacceptable under international human rights law." Nowak's comments, as well as the White House defense of the interrogation technique, came after CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed at a Tuesday Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that waterboarding had been used on three terror detainees [JURIST report]. AP has more.

The controversy over whether waterboarding [JURIST news archive] constitutes illegal torture first loomed large late last year as then-Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey tried to duck the issue [JURIST report] in his confirmation hearings and former CIA agent John Kiriakou unofficially confirmed the use of waterboarding [JURIST report] during interrogations of US terror suspects. Also in December, Hayden sent a memo [JURIST report] to CIA employees saying the agency videotaped the 2002 interrogations of two detainees, but that the tapes were destroyed [JURIST news archive] in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. Last month, the now Mukasey-led Department of Justice announced that it had opened a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into the destruction of the tapes.

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