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Slippery with waterboarding?

The waterboarding row rumbles on. Theres a lot of coverage of remarks from the US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, whos been giving his take on the issue.


Waterboarding would be excruciating," hes quoted as saying in an interview in the New Yorker magazine. "If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can't imagine how painful! Whether it's torture by anybody else's definition, for me it would be torture," he said. When asked to define torture, McConnell replied: "My own definition of torture is something that would cause excruciating pain."

All fair enough, but the sting in the tail comes with McConnell apparently defending what are euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques". They get information - tons he reckons - and he claims they save lives. So, you half kill someone in front of you in the supposed hope you might save lives elsewhere.

It seems senior figures in the US administration are still keen to hold onto abusive techniques. The US Attorney General Michael Mukasey has declined to rule on whether waterboarding is torture and President Bush is threatening to veto a new bill that would make the CIAs use of abusive interrogations unlawful.

Check out a good blog article that cuts through some of the mealy-mouthed avoidance of the fact that waterboarding is disgusting and clearly torture.

Not sure if coverage fatigue is going to start setting in among the media soon when it comes to the US elections, but one thing we havent heard much about is what the candidates will do about Guantánamo Bay and war on terror detentions. Were getting plenty on the Iraq and the surge, but not that much on one of the key human rights issues facing the next president. (However see fresh Guantánamo comment from Andy Worthington today with a link to some references to candidates criticising the camp).

Yesterday Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he favoured closure (albeit more because of the damage it was doing to the countrys image than anything else).

As we were saying in Fridays blog, Amnesty activists were out on the - very wet - streets of London and other cities on Friday calling again for Guantánamos closure. Check out the excellent Al-Jazeera footage embedded above and a sample of the blogging (here and here) and photography that's now doing the rounds.

Six years on from the start of the travesty of justice that the world now knows as Guantánamo, human rights activists are still shouting about this issue. But are the Washington politicians really listening?

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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