During his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning, FBI director nominee James Comey said the use of waterboarding by the Bush administration was illegal.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Comey about his opinion on the matter.
“When I first learned about waterboarding, my reaction as a citizen and a leader was this is torture. It is still what I think. To his great credit, [FBI Director] Bob Mueller made sure the FBI had nothing to do with that business, and if I were FBI director it would never have anything to do with that.”
Comey served as the deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005, while the Bush administration was drafting legal justifications for the use of waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects. Comey said he forced a discussion over the moral permissibility of torture. He said it was questionable “whether we should be doing this” even if it was effective or legal.
“I went to the attorney general and said, this is wrong, this is awful,” Comey explained to the Senate committee. “You have to go to the White House and force them to stare at this and answer that question. I believe the answer is we should not be involved in this kind of stuff.”
When Leahy asked Comey if he believed waterboarding was torture and illegal, Comey simply responded, “Yes.”
Watch video, courtesy of C-SPAN, below: