A report in a top U.S. newspaper says U.S. Justice Department lawyers in 2005 thought the Central Intelligence Agency's harsh interrogation tactics were a mistake, but legal.
The New York Times says that conclusion can be drawn from previously undisclosed Justice Department email messages, interviews, and newly declassified documents it has obtained.
The Justice Department opinion gave the CIA the go-ahead to use 13 methods in interrogating terrorism suspects, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation.
But the newspaper reports that former deputy attorney general James Comey tried to convince Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to argue at a White House meeting in 2005 that the interrogation techniques were "wrong."
The Times says Comey wrote in an email to a colleague that he feared a case could be made that some of the techniques were "simply awful."
The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the conduct of the lawyers who approved the interrogation methods.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.