Cheney confirms waterboarding
Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation...
WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called waterboarding, which creates a sensation of drowning.
Cheney indicated the Bush administration doesn't regard waterboarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said.
Cheney's comments, in a White House interview Tuesday with a conservative radio talk-show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.
The U.S. Army, senior Republican lawmakers, human-rights experts and many experts on the laws of war, however, consider waterboarding cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment banned by U.S. law and by international treaties that prohibit torture.
Some intelligence professionals say it often provides false or misleading information because many subjects will tell interrogators what they think they want to hear to make the waterboarding stop.
Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have said a law Bush signed last month prohibits waterboarding. The three are the sponsors of the Military Commissions Act, which authorized the administration to continue its interrogations of enemy combatants.
The interview Tuesday was the first time a senior Bush administration official has confirmed U.S. interrogators used waterboarding against important al-Qaida suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged chief architect of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mohammad was captured March 1, 2003, and given to the CIA.
Lee Ann McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, denied that Cheney confirmed that U.S. interrogators used waterboarding or endorsed the technique.
"What the vice president was referring to was an interrogation program without torture," she said.
What is waterboarding?
The interrogation method, whose origins were traced to the Spanish Inquisition, simulates drowning.
The technique involves holding a person's head under water or pouring water on cloth or cellophane placed over the nose and mouth to simulate drowning until the subject agrees to talk or confess.
In the interview Tuesday, Scott Hennen, of WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., told Cheney listeners had asked him to "let the vice president know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives."
"Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?" Hennen said.
"I do agree," Cheney replied, according to a transcript of the interview released Wednesday. "And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high-value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation."
Cheney added that Mohammed had provided "enormously valuable information."
Hennen asked, "Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Cheney replied, "It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president 'for torture.' "
McClatchy correspondents James Rosen and Marisa Taylor contributed to this report.
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