Holder: US won't 'justify, rationalize, condone' waterboarding torture
Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday March 2, 2009

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US Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ruled out the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique for "war on terror" suspects, saying it amounted to torture.

"Waterboarding is torture. My justice department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it," Holder said in a speech to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs.

"The use and sanction of torture is at odds with the history of American jurisprudence and American values. It undermines our ability to pursue justice fairly, and it puts our own brave soldiers in peril should they ever be captured on a foreign battlefield."

Holder is leading a review of the treatment of terror suspects. In one of his first acts in office, President Barack Obama ordered the review, as well as an end to the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention center, the CIA's secret prisons abroad and special interrogation authorities for terror detainees.

In an executive order, Obama required that all interrogations conducted at US facilities worldwide follow the US Army field manual, which bars the use of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, and other harsh interrogation techniques.

"Living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger," Obama told a joint session of Congress in a primetime address last month.

"And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."

The president also vowed "swift and certain justice for captured terrorists."

Many detainees at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have been held there for years without trial.

A Pentagon report in February said that conditions at Guantanamo were in line with the Geneva Conventions but also called for easing the isolation of high-security detainees.

More than 800 detainees have passed through Guantanamo since it was opened on January 11, 2002, as a place to ship suspects in the "war on terror" begun by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

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