CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress that waterboarding was necessary, but probably not legal under the current statute, on Thursday. Hayden confirmed that the technique of simulated drowning is not currently part of the CIA's interrogation program, but was used five years ago on three top al-Qaeda suspects.
On the same day, US Attorney General Michael Mukasey told lawmakers he would not open a criminal investigation into the CIA's use of waterboarding. He maintained that because the Justice Department authorized the program, it cannot prosecute someone who followed that advice.
The US continues to face international ridicule for not rejecting waterboarding, the technique that entails strapping a suspect down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. Just Wednesday, the United Nations' torture investigator harshly criticized the White House for defending waterboarding, calling it absolutely unacceptable under international human rights law.