Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s longtime senior political adviser, said the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of rectal feeding tubes on terrorist detainees should not be considered torture.

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Rove said the intrusive procedure was necessary to keep detainees nourished during hunger strikes.

“Let’s get the rectal feedings out [of the discussion,]” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There are in this report nine references on 14 pages to rectal feeding. In four of those five it is discussed as being a result of a hunger strike by the detainee.”

More broadly speaking, Rove said the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were carefully designed not inflict permanent physical damage. He disputed President Obama’s claim that they constituted torture.

“The principle tests were, do they involve severe pain or suffering or do they involve severe and prolonged mental pain or suffering? In each instance, these procedures were carefully designed so they would not pass those barriers,” Rove said.

Rove noted that CIA interrogators raised detainees’ feet above their heads while waterboarding them to reduce the likelihood that water would flood into their lungs.