Karl Rove, senior adviser to the former President, George W. Bush, said he was “proud” of the fact that the U.S. had used waterboarding, an “enhanced interrogation” technique, as it “broke the will of these terrorists and gave us valuable information” about various terror plots.

Speaking to the BBC about his recently published memoir, Courage And Consequence, Mr. Rove said, “I'm proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They're appropriate, they're in conformity with our international requirements and with U.S. law.”

Waterboarding is method using water to cut off oxygen and to create a sensation of drowning, enhancing the subject's fear of death considerably. A notable case in the use of the technique was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, charged with masterminding the 9/11 attacks.

In the aftermath of being waterboarded, Mohammed confessed to 31 terror-related crimes — from 9/11 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to assassination attempts on the Pope. Last year, President Obama banned the use waterboarding in interrogation.

Mr. Rove argued that the information derived from prisoners had allowed the U.S. to “foil plots such as flying aeroplanes into Heathrow and into London, bringing down aircraft over the Pacific [and] flying an aeroplane into the tallest building in Los Angeles”.

Mr. Rove denied that waterboarding was torture, saying “People need to read the memos that outline what was permissible and not permissible before they make a judgment about these things because the purpose of the memos was to delineate what met our legal obligations and what was appropriate.”

Every person who was waterboarded had a doctor present to ascertain that there would be no long-lasting physical or mental damage to them and they were told, “You are not going to drown.”

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