Five related pieces

U.N. Official: U.S. Waterboarding is ‘Unjustifiable’
Philadelphia Inquirer
The United Nations’ torture investigator criticized the White House yesterday for defending the use of waterboarding and urged the United States to give up its defense of “unjustifiable” interrogation methods. The comments from Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, came a day after the Bush administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that waterboarding was used by U.S. government questioners on three terror suspects. Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the suspects were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003. “This is absolutely unacceptable under international human-rights law,” Nowak said. “Time has come that the government will actually acknowledge that they did something wrong and not continue trying to justify what is unjustifiable.”
Waterboarding is Legal, White House Says
Los Angeles Times
The White House said Wednesday that the widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding is legal and that President Bush could authorize the CIA to resume using the simulated-drowning method under extraordinary circumstances. The surprise assertion from the Bush administration reopened a debate that many in Washington had considered closed. Two laws passed by Congress in recent years — as well as a Supreme Court ruling on the treatment of detainees — were widely interpreted to have banned the CIA’s use of the extreme interrogation method.
     
Ash Wednesday Observed With Antiwar Protest At White House
The New London Day
Members of Washington-area Catholic groups began the Lenten season Wednesday by smearing ashes over walkways in front of the White House as a symbol of what they called repentance for the country’s involvement in the war in Iraq and the torture of Guantanamo detainees. Though the group read prayers and sang hymns over a megaphone in front of the White House gates, event organizer James Salt said the event was meant to be a symbolic gesture rather than a loud rally. “Our only hope is that you are a forgiving God and this sign of repentance will stay your hand over an evil empire,” the Rev. Joseph Nangle said as he led the ashes ceremony.
Next Year’s War Costs Estimated at $170 Billion or More
New York Times
The military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost $170 billion in the next fiscal year over and above the $515.4 billion regular Pentagon budget that President Bush has proposed, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Wednesday. Mr. Gates gave that estimate in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee after cautioning the panel that any estimate would be dicey, given the unpredictability of war.
 
The CIA’s Criminal Admission
Boston Globe
The Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have both banned the use of waterboarding in interrogations, but a spokesman for President Bush said yesterday that Bush could still authorize its use in the future. Congress, which already passed a broadly worded ban on torture in 2006, has no choice but to specifically prohibit this technique. The Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany, militarist Japan, Pol Pot – this is the roster that Bush wants the United States to join. Congress should act to make sure that the United States does not once again stoop to using tortura del agua (water torture). That’s what it was called during the Inquisition.
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