Seung Min Kim
Posted by Seung Min Kim on November 10, 2010 in News Clips
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday defended the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and said a Democratic colleague was “entirely wrong” to call for an investigation into the interrogation method sanctioned by the previous White House.
King, the presumptive next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, pushed back against demands by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) for a probe into Bush-era waterboarding and asserted that President George W. Bush’s authorization of the practice “saved many, many lives.”
“Jerry and I are friends, but he’s entirely wrong on this,” King said in an interview with POLITICO’s Arena. “There would’ve been lives lost, and Bush deserves credit for what he did.”
Nadler, whose district includes the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, on Tuesday called for a special investigation into the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding, pointing to excerpts from the ex-president’s new memoir in which he said he personally authorized use of the practice on terror suspects.
“This admission, delivered without remorse or regret, reminds us disturbingly of the persistent lack of accountability and resolution in confronting the crime of torture committed by our own government,” Nadler said in a statement.
King suggested Bush “should get a medal” for authorizing waterboarding. King said cases like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind Sept. 11 who is currently awaiting trial, proved practices such as waterboarding were effective.
“There was no harm done,” King said, referring to Mohammed. “In the big picture, to hold someone’s head underwater, the chance of permanent damage is minimal and the rewards are great.”
Meanwhile, Nadler’s call for a Bush probe picked up steam among progressives, who urged further investigation into the government’s use of the practice that they insisted was torture.
Arab American Institute President James Zogby argued that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have become increasingly emboldened about their administration’s use of waterboarding since leaving office.
“To not investigate these bold admissions of guilt would make [the Obama] administration an accessory after the fact,” Zogby wrote in the Arena. “Justice demands accountability. Nadler is right.”