Friday, October 27, 2006

Cheney endorses simulated drowning

Guardian Unlimited

The use of a form of torture known as waterboarding to gain information is a "no-brainer", the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, told a radio interviewer, it was reported today.
Mr Cheney implied that the technique - a form of simulated drowning - was used on the alleged September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an
interview with Scott Hennen, a conservative radio show host in Fargo, North Dakota, on Tuesday, Mr Cheney agreed with the assertion that "a dunk in water" could yield valuable intelligence from terror suspects.

"Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Mr Hennen asked.
"Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Mr Cheney replied. "But for a while there, I was criticised as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."

In some versions of waterboarding, prisoners are strapped to a board and their faces covered with cloth or cellophane while water is poured over their mouths to stimulate drowning. In others, they are forced head first into water.

Mr Cheney's comments set him at odds with the Military Commissions Act, which bars, under all circumstances, treatment of prisoners that inflicts serious physical or mental pain or suffering.

Two of the chief sponsors of the legislation, senators John McCain and John Warner - both senior Republicans - say it outlaws waterboarding.

Last month, the US army also revised its field manual to specifically ban waterboarding and other techniques as "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" that is banned by the Geneva accords.

Military officials said such techniques did not yield reliable intelligence from prisoners.

Mr Cheney told his interviewer that the ability to interrogate high value detainees had "been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation ... we need to be able to continue that". .......

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