DNI Confirmation Hearing: Blair Won’t Call Waterboarding Torture, WTF?

January 22, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Ret. Adm. Dennis Blair just refused to answer a very easy question, asked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.): Is waterboarding torture? “I would say that there will be no waterboarding on my watch, there will be no torture on my watch.”

C’mon, a stunned Levin said. Blair: “I’m very much aware there were dedicated officers in the intelligence service who thought they were carrying out activities that were authorized at the highest levels … I don’t intend to reopen those cases of those officers who acted within their duties. I’m hesitant …” He doesn’t want to call his intelligence officials torturers, but, you know, still. Waterboarding is is clearly torture.

But Eric Holder said it was torture, Levin continued: “That’s troubling to me … I’m looking for your judgment, is waterboarding torture?”

“You’ll just have to make the inference from my answer that on my watch we will not waterboard,” Blair said. He reaffirmed that torture doesn’t produce reliable intelligence. But still: WTF?