[QODLink]
Americas
Waterboarding 'may be illegal'
CIA chief says that the legal landscape has changed since technique first used.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2008 22:38 GMT
Hayden said the circumstances that led to the
technique being used were unique [GALLO/GETTY]


The use of simulated drowning for the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects may be illegal under current US law, the senior US intelligence chief has said.
 
Michael Hayden, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, said on Thursday that it was "not certain" that the technique would be considered to be lawful under contemporary statutes.
"It's not a technique that I've asked for, it's not included in the current programme," he told the US House Intelligence Committee.
 
The news comes a day after the White House said that it would still consider using the technique, known as waterboarding, if US lives were deemed to be at risk.
Waterboarding, an interrogation method which involved simulated drowning, is considered inhumane by many human rights organisations.
 
The CIA acknowledged this week that it had used the practice on three al-Qaeda suspects captured in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks.
 
'Unique' circumstances
 
Hayden told the committee that the circumstances that led to the use of harsh interrogation techniques five years ago were "fairly unique" and "historic".
 
He said they were spurred by a belief in the intelligence community that more attacks were imminent and that there was a poor understanding of al-Qaeda.
 
However, since then the legal landscape has changed following a supreme court decision about detainee rights and new laws and policies about how they are treated, Hayden said.
 
He also acknowledged that private contractors had been used in the interrogations, but said they were "bound by the same rules in force on the officers of the CIA".
 
'No investigation'
 
Also on Thursday Michael Mukasey, the US attorney-general, said that he would not investigate whether US interrogators broke the law when waterboarding people accused of terrorism following the September 11 attacks.
 
"Whatever was done as part of a CIA programme at the time that it was done, was the subject of a department of justice opinion through the Office of Legal Counsel and was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then," Mukasey told the House Judiciary Committee.
 
The three al-Qaeda suspects are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
 
Mohammed has claimed to be the operational mastermind behind the September 11 attacks in the US, while Abu Zubaydah is alleged to have been an aide to Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader.
 
Al-Nashiri is said to have been the operational commander of the suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
 
The justice department has long resisted exposing the Bush administration and its employees to criminal or civil charges or even international war crimes if waterboarding is declared illegal.
 
On Wednesday the White House said that George Bush, the US president, could authorise waterboarding for future terror suspects in certain situations, including "belief that an attack might be imminent".
 
The president would first consult with the attorney-general and intelligence officials before authorising its use, a White House spokesman said.
Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The new military government has issued warnings that it will soon start to clampdown on immigration offenders.
As Snowden awaits Russian visa renewal, the world mulls role of NSA and expects more revelations from document trove.
A handful of agencies that provide tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea say business is growing.
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
join our mailing list