World

U.S. official mulls probe of Bush-era interrogation practices

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation practices.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation practices.

A Justice Department official told The Associated Press that Holder plans to make a final decision on a probe within a few weeks.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on a pending matter.

At his nomination hearings as attorney general in January, Holder unambiguously declared waterboarding to be torture and pledged to prosecute some Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. courts.

The CIA has acknowledged using the contentious practice on at least three terrorism suspects, including some held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Waterboarding consists of immobilizing a hooded victim before pouring water over their face. It is said to simulate the sensation of suffocation and drowning. President Barack Obama has since banned its use by U.S. intelligence agencies at detention centres worldwide.

A move to appoint a prosecutor is certain to stir partisan bickering that could create a distraction to Obama's efforts to push health-care and energy reform.

Obama has expressed reluctance to having a probe, saying the nation should be "looking forward and not backwards" when it came to Bush-era abuses.

With files from The Associated Press