In a debate conducted by the British Guardian newspaper's U.S. Web site, Guardian America, adviser John Bellinger was asked if the practice could be justified on a U.S. citizen by a foreign intelligence service, the newspaper said.
"Well, I'm not willing to include it or exclude it," Bellinger said. "Our Justice Department has concluded that we just don't want to get involved in abstract discussions."
The technique involves covering the detainee's face with a cloth and then pouring a steady and large stream of water over it to make the person feel they are drowning.
The U.S. military has banned the practice, but the newspaper said the Bush administration has yet to confirm reports such intelligence agencies as the CIA banned it last year, the report said.