WASHINGTON, Nov 3, 2007 (AFP) – Six years after the September 11 attacks and despite the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the United States insists its war on terrorism justifies extreme forms of interrogation, including “waterboarding,” and rejects any talk of torture. During a Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey refused to address the legality of bringing a prisoner to near drowning to make him talk, drawing fire from opposition Democrats and human rights groups.
“If he is still unsure whether the horrific practice of waterboarding is illegal, then he shouldn’t be confirmed,” said Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.
“The only reason to equivocate on waterboarding is to protect administration officials who authorized it from possible prosecution,” he added.
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In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States launched a detention and interrogation drive that allowed intelligence agents to employ tougher techniques on suspected terrorists that were kept strictly confidential.
The New York Times in early October published Justice Department documents that said it was not illegal to smack prisoners around, expose them to extreme temperatures or to simulated drowning, a tech