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November 15, 2007

Mary Jo White Gets It Wrong on Waterboarding

Here's HRF President Michael Posner's response to Mary Jo White's opinion piece in USA Today. Posner explains why White is wrong in claiming that waterboarding is not clearly illegal.

In her defense of Attorney General Mukasey (no easy answers to al Qaeda threat- Nov 14) Mary Jo White argues it is not clear whether waterboarding is illegal. This assertion is directly contradicted by five retired military Judge Advocates General who wrote to Senators last week that “Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture and it is illegal.” Used since the Spanish Inquisition, this is a form of torture under which a detainee is strapped to a board, blindfolded and then subjected to drowning. Waterboarding became a focal point in Judge Mukasey’s confirmation hearings, a way into the broader issue of what constitutes official cruelty by the CIA. It is torture because it violates both a federal torture statute and an international treaty to which the SA is a party. It violates the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 that bars all US officials from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading actions. And it flies in
the face of the humane treatment provision of the Geneva Conventions, which the
Supreme Court has held applies to all US officials. Last year the US Army produced a field manual on interrogations that makes US obligations crystal clear. It is time for Congress to compel all government agencies, including the CIA, to bar all forms of official cruelty.