Many of you are probably familiar with the debate that raged on in the Senate last year concerning now Attorney General Michael Mukasey's remarks on waterboarding practices and whether or not they qualified as torture....it appears that he is still hedging on this point. Some of the remarks he makes frankly disgust me, but, well, we'll see what happens. For more information on waterboarding, please see our Amnesty group's research on the issue, and the statement below from Human Rights Watch gives a more literal picture:
Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.
"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.
Article from the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said Tuesday that the harsh C.I.A. interrogation technique known as waterboarding was not clearly illegal, and suggested that it could be used against terrorism suspects once again if requested by the White House.
Mr. Mukasey’s statement came in a letter delivered Tuesday night to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled for Wednesday its first oversight hearing for the new attorney general. The conclusions of the letter are likely to be a focus of severe questioning by Senate Democrats who have described waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning, as torture.