President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the next FBI director told senators on Tuesday that he believes waterboarding is torture and is illegal.
“When I first learned about waterboarding when I became deputy attorney general, my reaction as a citizen and a leader was ‘This is torture.’ It’s still what I think,” said James Comey, a former deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush.
Comey added: “And if I were FBI director, it would never have anything to do with that.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Comey directly if he agreed that waterboarding is illegal and torture. Comey said “yes.”
Comey was also asked about his views on U.S. surveillance practices.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked the nominee, who would replace FBI Director Robert Mueller, whether he believed the U.S. Constitution permits the government to use a drone to target “with lethal force a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat.” Comey replied that he did not.
If Comey is approved by the Judiciary Committee, he will be considered by the full Senate in September.