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On the August 27 edition of MSNBC Live, Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox described Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' questioning "the last time he went in front of Congress" as "legislative waterboarding."
Anchor Contessa Brewer asked for her reaction to Gonzales' resignation, to which Cox responded:
COX: Well, it's tempting to go with what John Edwards said, which is, "Better late than never." I think a lot of people in Washington, no matter what political affiliation they had, had been sort of watching this and shuddering for the guy. I mean, the last time he went in front of Congress, I felt sorry for him. It was like -- it was legislative waterboarding. You know, they just kept going after him and kept going after him.
As Media Matters for America has previously documented, an ABC News report on the history of the technique described "waterboarding" as an interrogation method whereby:
The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
On July 20, President Bush signed an executive order outlawing "murder, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking of hostages, or performing of biological experiments" on detainees. The CIA is required to comply with these standards. However, as the BBC reported, "The American authorities have never confirmed they use the [waterboarding] technique and it is unclear whether the guidelines allow it."
Prior to the 2007 executive order, the Pentagon released a new version of the Army Field Manual that banned waterboarding as an impermissible interrogation technique. However, the CIA is not bound by the Army's guidelines. As a September 7 article in The New York Times stated:
At the same time, the Pentagon released a new Army Field Manual that lays out permissible interrogation techniques and specifically bans eight methods that have come up in abuse cases. Among the techniques banned is water-boarding, in which a wet rag is forced down a bound prisoner's throat to cause gagging; intelligence officials have said Mr. [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed was subjected to that treatment while in C.I.A. custody."
From the August 27 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: We've been following breaking news this morning. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reportedly has submitted his resignation, and President Bush reportedly reluctantly accepted that resignation. We're expecting an announcement an hour from now out of Texas from the attorney general about him stepping down. Of course, this follows a firestorm of controversy that the attorney general created when nine U.S. attorneys were fired from their jobs. And when the attorney general was called to testify on Capitol Hill, he testified over and over again that he couldn't recall some of the key conversations, or documents, decisions that led to those firings. With me now to discuss the attorney general's resignation, Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox. Hi, Ana Marie.
COX: Good morning.
BREWER: What's your reaction?
COX: Well, it's tempting to go with what John Edwards said, which is, "Better late than never." I think a lot of people in Washington, no matter what political affiliation they had, had been sort of watching this and shuddering for the guy. I mean, the last time he went in front of Congress, I felt sorry for him. It was like -- it was legislative waterboarding. You know, they just kept going after him and kept going after him, and there's also a chance, you know, really for the administration to rebuild some bridges to Congress, with this next appointment, depending on who they take.
BREWER: It does seem like here was a guy who could not catch a break. But on the other hand, when you're talking about his involvement in so many controversial decisions, not just the U.S. attorneys who were fired from their jobs reportedly for political reasons, but, detainees --
COX: Detainees, wiretapping, I mean really the list goes on. It's hard to even come up with all of them. Like I said, I think this is -- one way to look at it is that this administration has been having so much trouble, you know, making any headway at all with the new Democratic Congress. Perhaps this is their opening.