Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden says he’s not sure he would have approved the use of waterboarding if he had authority over its use shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
Hayden said use of the controversial tactic would have been a tough call depending on “the totality of circumstances at the time.”
“There are certain things that are always off the table. There are certain things that are clearly permissible and then there are a bunch of things in the middle, and I would admit that waterboarding is near the edge of that window,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I would admit that are gray and would demand very compelling circumstances for anyone....” he added.
Last week, Hayden defended the controversial method of feeding detained enemy combatants through rectal tubes.
“These were medical procedures,” he said during an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” arguing that rehydrating uncooperative detainees this way was safer than administering intravenous fluids.
“I’m not a doctor,” he said. “What I am told is that this is one of the ways that the body is rehydrated.”
Hayden acknowledges that CIA interrogators might have suffered psychological traumas by using harsh tactics but he drew a distinction between methods used at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.
“Abu Ghraib was, indeed, criminal activity. And I think it's really important to distinguish Abu Ghraib and what happened to the CIA detention facilities,” he told ABC.
Eric Fair, an interrogator at Abu Ghraib, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times last week admitting he tortured prisoners.
“Abu Ghraib dominates every minute of every day for me,” he wrote.