U.S. attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey has been caught between Democratic demands that he call "waterboarding" a form of torture and pressures he could face to investigate Bush administration officials if he does.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Mukasey's nomination by an 11-8 vote, despite concerns about his refusal to denounce waterboarding as unlawful torture. His nomination is expected to come up for a vote before the full Senate next week.
Following are some facts about the simulated-drowning interrogation technique.
* The issue is central in part because of the role Mukasey would play in setting future legal policy as well as in determining whether officials broke the law in authorizing past use of the technique following the September 11, 2001, attacks. It also has emerged in the 2008 presidential campaign.
* The CIA interrogation program was initially authorized by a presidential order and supported by administration legal opinions.
* A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2006 placed detainees under Geneva Conventions protections and highlighted the potential legal exposure for people involved in the interrogation program.
* A new presidential order in July, which followed an act of Congress, set requirements to make sure detainees were treated in line with the Geneva Conventions. Torture has long been barred by the U.S. criminal code, and Bush has said the United States does not condone torture.
* It is believed that in total three "high-value" CIA detainees were subjected to waterboarding and the technique has not been used in the program since 2003.