Attorney general nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced a groundbreaking hypothesis on waterboarding: It’s torture. The position, which contradicts piles of Bush-era law literature defending the practice, is just one step in an avowed process to fix many of the problems riddling current Justice Department policy.

The L.A. Times:

President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general said unequivocally Thursday that waterboarding was torture, and he vowed to initiate an extensive and immediate “damage assessment” to fix fundamental problems in the Justice Department that he said were caused by the Bush administration.

Eric H. Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a marathon confirmation hearing that the incoming Obama administration planned major changes in the interrogation of terrorism suspects and many other issues that would represent a significant break from the current policies and programs.

Early on, he was asked whether waterboarding, which simulates the feeling of drowning, constituted torture and was illegal.

“If you look at the history of the use of that technique,” Holder said, “we prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. … Waterboarding is torture.”

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