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US AG Holder reaffirms 'no waterboarding' policy

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] on Monday reaffirmed his opposition [speech text] to waterboarding [JURIST news archive] as an acceptable interrogation device. In a speech before the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Holder emphasized the need to return to the ideals of the US.

As I unequivocally stated in my confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate, waterboarding is torture. My Justice Department will not justify it, rationalize it, or condone it. The sanction of torture is at odds with the history of American jurisprudence and American principles. It undermines our ability to pursue justice fairly, and it puts our own brave soldiers in peril should they ever be captured on a foreign battlefield.
Holder previously condemned waterboarding as torture [JURIST report] during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website]. President Barack Obama has also not ruled out prosecution [JURIST report] of senior Bush officials for crimes allegedly committed during the administration.

In January, outgoing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] director Michael Hayden [JURIST news archive] defended the controversial interrogation techniques [JURIST report] used to gather information in the "war on terror," including waterboarding, a practice Hayden banned from use in 2006. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released three memos [materials; JURIST report] in July 2008 indicating that certain harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, are lawful and that those who employ them in good faith lack the specific intent required to be charged with torture, in direct opposition to the 2006 Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations [text, PDF], which prohibits waterboarding. In February 2008, the DOJ launched an internal probe [JURIST report] into whether top department officials improperly approved the CIA's use of waterboarding. In 2007, former CIA director George Tenet [BBC profile] denied that torture was used [JURIST report] in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks while refusing to go into details of technique. Former attorney general Michael Mukasey [BBC profile] repeatedly refused to say [JURIST report] whether waterboarding was torture. Later in 2007, retired CIA agent John Kiriakou confirmed the use of waterboarding [JURIST report] on al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah.

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