Gonzales and Ashcroft won't back down on waterboarding

Former Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft stood firm against criticism of the Bush administration's use of waterboarding, maintaining the practice was not torture.

Both Gonzales and Ashcroft defended the interrogation tactic, their and other administration lawyers' advice on which was outlined in memos released last month by the Obama administration.

"I think that the U.S. government provided advice to CIA interrogators based upon the best legal reasoning by the lawyers in the Department of Justice," Gonzales <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-05-03/bushs-lawyers-...">said at a forum at American Jewish University</a>, moderated by Dan Abrams. "Was it torture, when that advice was given? No. Were the interrogations harsh? Yes. Did they save lives? Absolutely."

"I believe that the work of the department by these professionals came to the right conclusion," Ashcroft said. "That, as described, and as commented on in their memorandum, that it was not torture."

Gonzales said that some Justice Department and military officials had undergone the technique, which critics have alleged amounts to torture, during training exercises.

Gonzales, though, refused to call the memos a mistake, only saying that while he made his own mistakes while in public service, the Justice Department acted admirably to keep the U.S. safe.