Homeland Security

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  Attorney General Dances Around Waterboarding IssueJanuary 30, 2008 11:36 Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to legally define waterboarding as "torture" during Senate testimony Wednesday, although he acknowledged that if the interrogation technique were performed on him, he would personally "feel that it was."

Michael Mukasey says it's not "appropriate" for him to judge whether waterboard interrogations are legal.

During his first testimony since his November confirmation, Mukasey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it wouldn't "be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique's legality."

Interrogation by torture is illegal under U.S. law and Mukasey said labeling waterboarding as torture would give "our adversaries the limits and contours of generally worded laws that define the limits of a highly classified interrogation program."

Currently banned by the Pentagon and CIA, waterboarding involves strapping an interrogation subject to a surface, covering the person's face with cloth and pouring water on the face to imitate the sensation of drowning.
  Destroyed CIA Tapes on Judges' MindsJanuary 24, 2008 21:35 federal judge said Thursday that CIA interrogation videotapes may have been relevant to his court case and he gave the Bush administration three weeks to explain why they were destroyed in 2005 and say whether other evidence was also destroyed.

Several judges are considering wading into the dispute over the videos, but U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts was the first to order the administration to provide a written report on the matter.

The tapes showed harsh interrogation tactics used by CIA officers questioning al-Qaida suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002. The Justice Department and Congress are investigating the destruction of the tapes.

When they were destroyed, the government was under various court orders to retain evidence relevant to terrorism suspects at U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After it became public in December that the tapes had been destroyed, lawyers for several detainees went to court demanding to know more.

The Justice Department has urged judges not to get involved, saying the criminal investigation could be jeopardized. U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, the first judge to consider the question, held a public hearing but agreed not to hear evidence in the case.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York said destroying the tapes appeared to have violated his order, in a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union. But U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has not yet said how he will rule.