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Holder: 'Waterboarding is torture'

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
At halftime of the Eric Holder hearing, President-elect Obama's pick to be attorney general marked a sharp break from the policies of the Bush administration and the previous attorneys general, particularly John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales.

"Waterboarding is torture," Holder said, unequivocally, agreeing with Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy's assertion that it is torture and that it is illegal.

He added later that "no one is above the law," but did not indicate with any specificity whether he would seek to prosecute either those who may have carried out, ordered or approved water boarding from the Bush administration.

As expected, Holder's toughest questioning came from ranking Republican committee member Arlen Specter. Specter has bristled at what he has seen as Democrats' lack of cooperation in permitting him to obtain all of the information about Holder, in particular his role in the Clinton-era Marc Rich pardon, including blocking subpoenas he requested.

Holder called his own actions with regard to the Rich pardon a "mistake."