Ashcroft Confronted by Protesters, Claims Waterboarding Is "Not Something I Can Make a Decision On"

Faiz Shakir: John Ashcroft was met with shouting dissenters and shrouded protesters at Cornell University.
This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

Last night, John Ashcroft delivered an address on the Cornell University campus "in the face of shouting dissenters and shrouded protesters." At his last appearance on a student campus, Ashcroft was asked whether he would be willing to be subjected to waterboarding. "The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do," he said.

Last night, Cornell University kept the heat on Ashcroft, repeatedly confronting him about his views on waterboarding.

Prior to his speech, Ashcroft answered students' questions in the lounge of a resident house on campus where a small reception was held for him. One student in the adjoining dining hall (which shares a common window with the lounge) "taped a piece of paper to a window...asking Ashcroft why waterboarding was not considered torture." The Cornell Sun reports that Ashcroft "merely stared at the piece of paper without comment."

The Sun adds that it later followed-up on the question with Ashcroft:
In an interview with the Sun conducted just prior to his speech at Statler Hall, Ashcroft did address the question when it was again posed to him.
"The question of whether or not waterboarding is torture is defined by statute. It's not something I can make a decision on," Ashcroft answered. "There are laws about what is torture and what isn't."
Ashcroft told the Cornell students "I have no regrets" about his tenure as attorney general, adding "and I have done some crazy things."

Ashcroft's dodge on waterboarding is much like the answer former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) tried to give during the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday night. Romney claimed he can't say specifically whether waterboarding is torture or not. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ripped his equivocation:
Faiz Shakir is the Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor of and The Progress Report.
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