Obama: Republicans are wrong on waterboarding

Obama: Republicans are wrong on waterboarding

HAWAII - Agence France-Presse
Obama: Republicans are wrong on waterboarding

File photo shows members of World Can't Wait group perform a live waterboarding demonstration outside the Spanish Consulate in Manhattan. AP photo

US President Barack Obama Sunday bluntly told Republican presidential candidates they were "wrong" in vowing to restore the "waterboarding" interrogation technique critics equate to torture.

In a presidential debate on Saturday, Republicans who want to take Obama's job in next year's election criticized the president for outlawing "enhanced interrogations" of terror suspects used by the previous Bush administration.

"They're wrong. Waterboarding is torture. It's contrary to America's traditions. It's contrary to our ideals," Obama said in a press conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in his native Hawaii.

"That's not who we are. That's not how we operate. We don't need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice." "If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example. Anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture.

"That's not something we do -- period." At the Republican debate in South Carolina on Saturday, candidates Herman Cain, Representative Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry all said they would overturn Obama's policy.

"If I was president I would be willing to use waterboarding," said Bachmann, referring to a method of simulated drowning.

Perry agreed. "I don't see it as torture," he said. "I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique," using the preferred term under Obama's predecessor George W. Bush.