Barack Obama’s choice to run the US Justice Department, Eric Holder, drew a line under Bush administration anti-terror policy, calling waterboarding torture.
Attorney general designate Holder also said at his Senate confirmation hearing that the Obama team, which takes office Tuesday, was already taking steps to prepare the closure of the Guantanamo Bay “war on terror” prison.
Holder, who would be the first African-American in the job, also had to play some defense, as Republicans grilled him over his role in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich in the Clinton administration.
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He told the Senate Judiciary committee that Obama’s administration would ensure US anti-terrorism policies were faithful to fundamental American values and the “letter and spirit of the Constitution.”
“Waterboarding is torture,” Holder said, in the dramatic opening salvos of the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.