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HRW weighs in on use of waterboarding

Nov. 10, 2010 at 4:22 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. government's stance on alleged torture of its detainees sends an "ugly message" to the international community, Human Rights Watch said.

U.S. President George W. Bush defended the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding in a series of television interviews touting his memoirs.

"Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives," Bush said in an interview with NBC News. "My job was to protect America. And I did."

Asked if he green-lighted waterboarding on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he responded: "Damn right!"

Later in the week, Washington said it wouldn't prosecute CIA officials who destroyed videotape evidence that allegedly showed U.S. intelligence officials using harsh interrogation techniques on detainees in so-called black sites overseas.

Joanne Mariner, a counter-terrorism program director at Human Rights Watch, said the action of the U.S. government was beyond deplorable.

"It sends the ugly message that there are no legal consequences in the United States for committing the most heinous of international crimes," she said in a statement.

The British government dismissed Bush's claim that the simulated drowning technique doesn't constitute torture, saying it fits within "our view" of the definition.

Bush claims legal advisers told him he wasn't violating the law.

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