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U.S. used waterboarding but no more: ex-spy chief

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2816325620080128?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews U.S. used waterboarding but no more: ex-spy chief Mon Jan 28, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2008
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      http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2816325620080128?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

      U.S. used waterboarding but no more: ex-spy chief
      Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:51pm EST

      By Randall Mikkelsen

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States used
      waterboarding in terrorism interrogations but no
      longer does, a former U.S. spy chief said in the Bush
      administration's clearest confirmation of the
      technique's use.

      U.S. officials have been reluctant to acknowledge the
      CIA's use of the simulated drowning technique, which
      human rights groups call an illegal form of torture.

      The remarks by former Director of National
      Intelligence John Negroponte in an interview with
      National Journal magazine come as senators are
      expected on Wednesday to grill Attorney General
      Michael Mukasey on a promised review of the legality
      of interrogation methods.

      Asked by the magazine if debate over U.S.
      counterterrorism techniques was hampering its effort
      in a "war of ideas," Negroponte said, "We've taken
      steps to address the issue of interrogations, for
      instance, and waterboarding has not been used in
      years."

      Negroponte served from 2005 to 2007 as the first
      director of national intelligence, a position created
      by President George W. Bush in the wake of the
      September 11 attacks. Negroponte is now deputy
      secretary of state. He spoke in an interview published
      in the National Journal's January 25 issue.

      "It (waterboarding) wasn't used when I was director of
      national intelligence, nor even a few years before
      that," he said. "I get concerned that we're too
      retrospective and tend to look in the rearview mirror
      too often at things that happened four or even six
      years ago."

      Negroponte's remarks appear to confirm earlier reports
      that the CIA discontinued waterboarding in 2003, after
      using it on three "high-value" detainees. Vice
      President Dick Cheney once suggested waterboarding was
      "an important tool" used to interrogate September 11
      mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

      Bush has regularly insisted that the United States
      does not torture but has declined to discuss what
      interrogation techniques are used. The CIA declined
      comment on Negroponte's remarks.

      Mukasey, who took office in November, promised in his
      Senate confirmation hearings to review U.S.
      interrogation methods. But he gave no sign in a
      meeting with reporters last week that he was ready to
      discuss the review at Wednesday's hearing of the
      Senate Judiciary Committee.

      Mukasey said it would focus on the existing
      interrogation program and the validity of department
      legal opinions regarding it -- a hint that he might
      not review discontinued practices.

      Mukasey made no mention of the review in his prepared
      testimony to the committee, released by the Justice
      Department on Monday.

      Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat,
      took note of the omission and vowed in a statement to
      ask Mukasey "whether he agrees that waterboarding is
      torture and illegal."

      Mukasey was asked last week if he would answer
      senators' inevitable questions about the issue, and
      replied, "I didn't say that I wouldn't answer it, I
      didn't say that I would."

      Mukasey on January 2 ordered the Justice Department to
      investigate the CIA's destruction of videotapes
      depicting the harsh interrogations of two terrorism
      suspects in 2002. At least one of the subjects, Abu
      Zubaydah, was believed to have been subjected to
      waterboarding.

      Mukasey has rejected calls to appoint an independent
      counsel for the investigation. He has indicated
      investigators would be free to pursue evidence of
      illegal interrogation techniques in their probe, but
      department officials have said the focus remains on
      the tapes' destruction.

      (Editing by Bill Trott)
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