A top aide to former US president George W Bush has defended the use of harsh interrogation techniques, insisting he is ‘proud’ of the methods use, saying they had helped prevent terrorist attacks.
Karl Rove told the BBC, in an interview broadcast yesterday, that he did not believe waterboarding - a simulated drowning method - amounted to torture.
‘I'm proud that we used techniques that broke the will of these terrorists and gave us valuable information that allowed us to foil plots,’ he said.
‘I am proud that we kept the world safer than it was by the use of these techniques. They are appropriate, they are in conformity with our international requirements and with US law,’ he added.
‘Flying airplanes into Heathrow and into London... bringing down aircraft over the Pacific, flying an airplane into the tallest building in Los Angeles were all terror plots that were thwarted by tough interrogation,' he insisted.
Asked specifically whether he thought waterboarding was torture, he replied: ‘No it's not. People need to read the memos that outline what was permissible and not permissible before they make a judgement about these things.’
‘Every one of the people who were waterboarded had a doctor who had to ascertain that there had been no long-lasting physical or mental damage to the individual,’ he said.
People being waterboarded were also told they would not drown, said Mr Rove.
Bush-era lawyers authorised waterboarding and other harsh interrogation in a serious of memos.
Critics have fiercely attacked these memos, saying they let the previous US administration subvert the limits of its constitutional powers during its ‘war on terror’.
President Barack Obama released some of the documents by government lawyers last year, which exposed the tough methods which also included sleep deprivation and the use of insects.
Mr Obama has vowed the US will not use torture under his watch.