Sunday, 13 January 2008, 05:27 GMT
Water-boarding 'would be torture'
US national intelligence chief Mike McConnell has said
the interrogation technique of water-boarding "would
be torture" if he were subjected to it.
Mr McConnell said it would also be torture if
water-boarding, which involves simulated drowning,
resulted in water entering a detainee's lungs.
He told the New Yorker there would be a "huge penalty"
for anyone using it if it was ever determined to be
The US attorney-general has declined to rule on
whether the method is torture.
However, Michael Mukasey said during his Senate
confirmation hearing that water-boarding was
"repugnant to me" and that he would institute a
In December, the House of Representatives approved a
bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh
interrogation techniques such as water-boarding.
President George W Bush has threatened to veto the
bill, which would require the agency to follow the
rules adopted by the US Army and abide by the Geneva
Conventions, if the Senate passes it.
In the interview with the New Yorker, the US Director
of National Intelligence said he would regard
water-boarding as torture if it was used against him.
The controversial technique involves a prisoner being
stretched on his back, having a cloth pushed into his
mouth and/or plastic film placed over his face and
having water poured onto his face. He gags almost
"If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just
can't imagine how painful!" he told the magazine.
"Whether it's torture by anybody else's definition,
for me it would be torture."
Mr McConnell said the legal test for torture should be
"Is it excruciatingly painful to the point of forcing
someone to say something because of the pain?" he
But the retired vice-admiral declined for legal
reasons to say whether the technique should be
considered torture by the US government.
"If it ever is determined to be torture, there will be
a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it,"
CIA officials have been quoted as saying that
water-boarding has been used on three prisoners since
2001, including al-Qaeda recruiter Abu Zubaydah, but
on nobody since 2003.
In July 2007, President Bush signed a controversial
executive order on the treatment of suspects detained
by the CIA which did not outlaw the agency's use of
"enhanced interrogation techniques" such as water-boarding.