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The stuff of life?

With Super Tuesday mania spilling into Wednesday a big US story has snuck out over CIA chief Michael Hayden admitting for the first time that Americas intelligence officials have been waterboarding prisoners held in the war on terror.


General Haydens admission is striking. He says - presumably in an attempt at mitigation - that it was done only three times and that no prisoner has been subjected to partial drowning during the last five years.

So thats all right then.

I think its the scary insouciance of his comments that will register with people. The US Congress, which heard him saying this yesterday, ought to be probing the whole question of just what enhanced interrogation methods the CIA have used in the war on terror and why Mr Haydens assurances should be accepted at face value when we already know that the CIA has been destroying videotapes of its interrogations.

In fact the latest news coming through on this is that an Illinois senator has done precisely just that - called on the US attorney general to launch an investigation. To have any credibility, though, this should be fully independent.

Either way the waterboarding story seems to be far from over. Look out for what the presidential front-runners have to say about it - I wonder have any of them got the courage to tackle this issue head on? And, if you havent already done so, check out our Unsubscribe campaign against human rights abuses in the war on terror.

Meanwhile, one countrys human rights record that I think we will be hearing Obama, McCain, Clinton, Romney et al talking about is Irans. Nothing wrong with that - though as with Iraq in 2002-3, you do have to wonder why the likes of George Bush suddenly start waving Amnesty reports about when it suits them.

Anyway, there is plenty wrong in Iran and Amnestys latest appeal is on behalf of an 18-year-old called Behnam Zare facing being stoning to death in the next 72 hours. As if that wasnt bad enough, he was convicted for a murder committed when he was only 15 - making him a child offender and making the execution forbidden under international law anyway.

Pressure could save Behnam. Send an Amnesty appeal as soon as you can.

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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