John Brennan says waterboarding should have never been legal and will never be used under his watch if he is confirmed as the Central Intelligence Agency director.
But he stopped short several times of calling it torture despite pointed questioning Thursday by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
Waterboarding simulates drowning, and critics call it a form of torture. It was used in at least three cases against terror suspects during the administration of President George W. Bush.
President Barack Obama ordered it banned shortly after taking office in 2009.