US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Tuesday that waterboarding is not currently authorized for CIA interrogations, but said he would not answer questions from Congress on the technique’s legality in general.
Mukasey, who is to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said that since becoming attorney general on November 9 he had been briefed on Central Intelligence Agency methods in its current interrogation programme.
“A limited set of methods is currently authorised for use in that programme. I have been authorized to disclose publicly that waterboarding is not among those methods,” Mukasey wrote in a letter to committee head Senator Patrick Leahy.
“Accordingly, waterboarding is not, and may not be used in the current programme,” he said.
But Mukasey, under pressure since his nomination last year to declare waterboarding, which simulates drowning, as illegal torture in all cases, would not say whether it has been used in the past.
He also suggested there could be circumstances where it might be allowable, and added that he would not answer questions from the committee about technique’s legality under US law in the absence of any specific current needs and conditions to discuss it.