“Now, if it was torture, remember this, President Obama directed in 2009 that Attorney General Holder investigate the use of these techniques. He put a career prosecutor in charge of it. They spent three years looking at all of these, and guess what? They came up with a finding of no prosecutable offenses were involved,” Rove said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the report last week, which detailed interrogation techniques used against al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 attacks. The techniques, she said, were “far more brutal than people were led to believe.”
“We decided waterboarding was torture back when we court-martialed American soldiers for waterboarding Philippine insurgents in the Philippine revolution,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
“We decided waterboarding was torture when we prosecuted Japanese soldiers as war criminals for waterboarding Americans during World War II, and we decided waterboarding was torture when the American court system described waterboarding as torture when Ronald Reagan and his Department of Justice prosecuted a Texas sheriff and several of his associates for waterboarding detainees,” said Whitehouse.
Host Chris Wallace noted that the 2002 Justice Department memo that was the legal basis for “this enhanced interrogation” says “because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture.”
“What about the Justice Department memo which says the specific intent to inflict severe pain is a key element for it becoming -- being seen as torture?” Wallace asked.
“I think if you are involved in the kind of activity that was described in this report, it would be hard not to, for a jury, not to conclude that you had that specific intent if you were applying those techniques and seeing what the consequences and effects were on those individuals,” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse added that the fact that there was an ulterior motive does not take away specific intent. “That was a very flawed report,” he said.
“I'll make two points. First of all, waterboarding that was done in each of the instances that the senator talked about was designed to drown the person with water in their lungs. This was designed specifically not to,” Rove said.
“Second of all, the question of pain and suffering versus fear and panic. This was designed to inculcate fear and panic,” he added.