White House: We "Definitely Want To Consider" Using Waterboarding Again

In congressional testimony yesterday, CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that his agency used waterboarding on three al Qaeda suspects. In 2006, Hayden banned the use of waterboarding in CIA interrogations. The Pentagon also banned its employees from using it, and the FBI said its investigators do not use coercive tactics in interviewing terror suspects.

But in today's gaggle, White House said that it may approve the use of waterboarding again "depend[ing] upon circumstances":

"It will depend upon circumstances," spokesman Tony Fratto said, adding "the belief that an attack might be imminent, that could be a circumstance that you would definitely want to consider."
Later, in a press briefing, Fratto tried to distance himself from these remarks, claiming that he only was talking about "the process" of approving waterboarding. "I'm not speculating," he declared.

Fratto said this morning that if used again, waterboarding would "need the president's approval" and would notify "appropriate members of Congress."

Last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey repeatedly refused to declare the practice illegal. Yesterday, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden "left open the option of reinstating it."

Despite its hedging, the White House made clear today it very well may commit illegal torture again.

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