White House Defends Waterboarding, Says It Has Saved Lives

WHITE HOUSE (AP) — The White House is defending the use of waterboarding, saying it’s legal and has saved American lives.

A spokesman says President Bush could authorize the use of the harsh interrogation technique on future terrorism suspects under the right circumstances, including the belief that an attack is imminent.

Waterboarding involves strapping a suspect down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years, to the Spanish Inquisition. It’s outlawed under the U.N.’s Convention Against Torture.

Tuesday, CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress interrogators used the method to question three terror suspects. Senate Democrats are demanding a criminal investigation. The White House says its use was also approved by the attorney general, meaning it was legal and not torture.

The CIA and Pentagon have banned interrogators from waterboarding and the FBI says it does not use coercive tactics.