That, at least, is what President Bush said today. But consider some of the reactions his statement provoked:
The CNN story on Bush's remarks followed that line with these words:
Over White House opposition, the Senate has passed legislation banning torture. With Vice President Dick Cheney as the point man, the administration is seeking an exemption for the CIA. It was recently disclosed that the spy agency maintains a network of prisons in eastern Europe and Asia, where it holds terrorist suspects.
The BBC story reporting the comment also noted the following:
The White House has not confirmed Washington Post claims that the CIA set up a covert prison network in eastern Europe and Asia to hold high-profile terror suspects following the 11 September 2001 attacks.
About 30 detainees, considered major terrorism suspects, were held at these "black sites", although the centres have now been closed, the paper reported.
On Sunday, the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture urged European officials to conduct high-level investigations into the allegations.
USA Today stated:
U.S. interrogation practices have been under fire since news accounts in 2004 reported harsh tactics by U.S. interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and at detention facilities in Afghanistan. In a new case Monday, five Army Rangers were charged with abusing detainees in Iraq.
Over White House opposition, the Senate voted 90-9 last month to approve an amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would ban the use of torture. Vice President Cheney has pushed for an exemption for the CIA.
That the news media now seem to be inclined to report a few facts along with the President's outrageous assertions is an encouraging sign. Equally encouraging is that fact that both liberal and conservative bloggers (below) are expressing outrage over statements like the President's.
Kevin Drum wrote:
Fine. Then shut down the black sites, tell Dick Cheney to stop lobbying against the McCain amendment, and allow the Red Cross unfettered access to prisoners in our custody. After all, if the events of the past four years had happened in any other country in the world--the abuse, the memos, the photos, the relentless opposition to independent inspections--isn't that the least it would take for any of us to believe it when that country's head of state declared "We do not torture"?
Andrew Sullivan said,
If that's the case, why threaten to veto a law that would simply codify what Bush alleges is already the current policy? If "we do not torture," how to account for the hundreds and hundreds of cases of abuse and torture by U.S. troops, documented by the government itself? If "we do not torture," why the memos that expanded exponentially the lee-way given to the military to abuse detainees in order to get intelligence? The president's only defense against being a liar is that he is defining "torture" in such a way that no other reasonable person on the planet, apart from Bush's own torture apologists (and they are now down to one who will say so publicly), would agree. The press must now ask the president: does he regard the repeated, forcible near-drowning of detainees to be torture? Does he believe that tying naked detainees up and leaving them outside all night to die of hypothermia is "torture"? Does he believe that beating the legs of a detainee until they are pulp and he dies is torture? Does he believe that beating detainees till they die is torture? Does he believe that using someone's religious faith against them in interrogations is "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment and thereby illegal? What is his definition of torture?