ACLU Outlines Ways Waterboarding has Already Been Declared Illegal by the Federal Government

November 8, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – As the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hears testimony today regarding torture and interrogation of detainees, the American Civil Liberties Union presents indisputable evidence that waterboarding has been repeatedly classified as torture and is banned by U.S. law. Waterboarding has been the subject of intense controversy recently as attorney general candidate Michael Mukasey has refused to classify it as torture.

Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, will testify today about how harsh interrogation techniques — including waterboarding — are both illegal and ineffective for gaining reliable intelligence.

Congress has enacted four statutes and ratified two treaties that prohibit torture of all kinds. By any reasonable reading of the statutes, waterboarding is a crime. Waterboarding is also considered illegal under both Senate-ratified treaties.

The applicable laws are:

The federal Anti-Torture Act; the federal War Crimes Act which, even as amended by the Military Commissions Act, bans acts such as waterboarding; federal criminal assault laws, which, under the PATRIOT Act, apply to all assaults by or against Americans on or in overseas facilities designated for the use of the federal government; the McCain Amendment in the Detainee Treatment Act; the Senate-ratified Convention Against Torture; and the Senate-ratified Geneva Conventions (particularly Common Article 3, which prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees).

“While we support legislation to put the entire government, rather that just the Defense Department, under the Army Field Manual on Interrogations, waterboarding has long been a crime,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Other than administering electric shocks or using the rack, it is hard to find a more clear-cut form of torture than waterboarding.”

The testimony of Amrit Singh before the House Judiciary subcommittee can be found at:

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