Amnesty International has called on US President Bush not to veto a bill outlawing waterboarding. A spokesperson for the organisation said that a veto will not alter the fact that water torture was illegal when it was used by the CIA in 2002 and 2003 and is illegal today.
In a BBC interview on Thursday night, President Bush said that whatever US intelligence agencies did would be legal, but justified the means of obtaining information if attacks were prevented. He suggested that Congress was “imposing a set of standards” on interrogators that “our people think will be ineffective.”
“We call on President Bush to ensure full accountability for all acts of torture and other ill-treatment by US personnel in the ‘war on terror’,” said Susan Lee, director of the Americas Programme at Amnesty International. “President Bush cannot have it both ways: he cannot claim to respect the rule of law but reserve the right for interrogators to adopt methods that clearly violate international law in a programme of secret detention which flies in the face of his government’s legal obligations.”
In recent days, US officials have stated that “waterboarding” – simulated drowning – could be re-authorized and used in the CIA’s program if the “circumstances” required it and if approved by the US President and Attorney General.
“No-one, not even a President, can authorize torture. Anyone who orders, condones or carries out torture exposes themselves to criminal liability under international law,” said Susan Lee.