Obama Warns Candidates Against Reinstating Waterboarding

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 4:05 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says Republican presidential hopefuls who say they would be willing to reinstate the interrogation practice known as waterboarding are “wrong” to consider using the technique.

During a news conference late Sunday, Mr. Obama reiterated his position that the process of simulating drowning is torture, and said that anyone who understands the practice would agree.

He called waterboarding “contrary to America's traditions.”

The president's comments come after several Republican candidates, including businessman Herman Cain and Representative Michele Bachmann, said during a debate Saturday that they are open to using waterboarding during interrogations.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said he favors using techniques to extract information that saves American lives.

But both Representative Ron Paul and former U.S. ambassador to China John Huntsman disagreed. Paul said the technique is illegal, while Huntsman said it diminishes America's standing in the world.

During the administration of president George W. Bush, the Justice Department issued a series of memos that authorized intelligence officials to use harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, including waterboarding.

Mr. Bush, and his vice president Dick Cheney, have defended the practice in memoirs during the past year, with Mr. Bush saying it saved American and British lives. Cheney says he doesn't think waterboarding is torture.

The issue has raised concerns about the prosecution of terror suspects who were interrogated and then transferred to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Those subjected to waterboarding include the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the man accused of being behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, Ab al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Nashiri was arraigned last week, and his lawyers argue he should not be prosecuted because of the interrogation techniques used against him.