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Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing the subject on his or her back with the head inclined downwards. Water is then poured over the face into breathing passages, thus triggering the mammalian diving reflex causing the captive to experience the sensations of drowning.
Robertson was quoted as saying: “Ignorance of the law is no defence. There are countries where proceedings might be instituted against him.''
Security chiefs have already denounced his defense of so-called 'waterboarding' and disputed his claim that information obtained through it had thwarted Al Qaeda plots to blow up Canary Wharf and Heathrow airport.
Bush launched his memoirs with the admission that he gave the CIA the go ahead to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, with the words: 'Damn right.' In addition, he said that a team of U.S. lawyers had said the practice was not illegal.
Bush was quoted as saying: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American military and diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States. Using those techniques saved lives.''
In 2002, the U.S. had arrested a close associate of Osama Bin Laden, Abu Zubaydah. Frustrated CIA chiefs believed he was hiding information. Bush claims he told his national security team that 'we need to find out what he knows' and asked to know their options.
The CIA put together a list of interrogation techniques that had not yet been tried, including waterboarding.
Bush has defended its use, saying: 'Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.' He even claims that Zubayda urged the Americans to use it on his captured 'brothers'.
Former Attorney General of England and Wales Lord Goldsmith was quoted as saying about waterboarding: “I think it is torture. It is mental and physical suffering. It's not simulated drowning. If it carries on it will actually cause drowning.''
However, in a recent article at huffingtonpost.com, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who is likely to become next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, defended former president George Bush's authorization of waterboarding.
''There was no harm done,'' he said, referring to the waterboarding of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohmammed, who was subjected to simulated drowning 183 times in March of 2003. ''In the big picture, to hold someone's head underwater, the chance of permanent damage is minimal and the rewards are great.''
Lord MacDonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, was quoted as saying: “These stories about waterboarding thwarting attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow - I've never seen anything to substantiate these claims. These claims are to be treated with a great deal of scepticism.''
However, security sources conceded that information passed by the Americans in the years after 9/11 did help prevent some Al Qaeda attacks in the UK.
In a speech last year MI5 director general Jonathan Evans said: ''Details of some of these plans came to light through the interrogation of detainees by other countries, including the U.S. Subsequent investigation on the ground, including in the UK, substantiated these claims. Such intelligence was of the utmost importance to the safety and security of the UK. It has saved British lives.''
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