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Rice dismisses torture claims
Former US secretary of state rejects allegations she approved "waterboarding".
Last Modified: 04 May 2009 12:54 GMT
Water boarding was approved by the US justice department and began in 2002

Condoleezza Rice, the former US secetary of State, has rejected claims she approved the use of torture when she was US national security adviser.

Rice, who held the positions under the administration of George Bush, the former US president, triggered controversy recently when she said at Stanford University that if torture techniques including waterboarding were authorised by Bush, then they were not illegal.

Asked by Al Jazeera whether she stood by her remarks, Rice said: "Let me be very clear: The president [George Bush] said he would not authorise anything that was illegal. 

"It was not legal because he authorised it; it was because he said he would do nothing illegal and the justice department and the attorney general said that it was legal."

'Serious problem'

Recent congressonal declassified documents have shown that Rice approved the CIA plan to waterboard detainees - applying the technique of simulated drowning on them.

Hillary Mann Leverett, a former US diplomat, told Al Jazeera: "Either way this is a serious problem for her.

"In the documents ... that have been declassified, it is her name that is there - either authorising or, as she puts it, conveying the authorisation.

"But conveying the authorisation from whom? She only worked for one person," Leverett said.

Legal immunity

Mark Taylor, an international law expert, said paper trails and approval processes showed there was "high [level] approval given for those interrogations". 

He said prosecuting those responsible would "depend on whether the attorney general is willing to pursue the case".

Barack Obama, the US president, has said waterboarding is torture but former Bush administration officals have maintained it was not and that use of the technique prevented attacks on the US.

The Obama administration has left the door open to prosecute those who authorised torture, but has said it will not charge people who carried out orders to use torture.

Obama recently assured CIA operatives that they would be granted legal immunity with respect to waterboarding.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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