President Bush defends U.S. interrogation tactics

Saturday, October 6, 2007

President Bush, photographed in 2005.
CIA logo.

On Friday morning, United States President George W. Bush defended interrogation tactics used by the CIA, stating that "This government does not torture people." Bush's comments were a response to an article in Thursday's New York Times describing a classified 2005 Justice Department legal opinion that endorsed the use of painful physical and psychological tactics against terror suspects. Bush also claimed that "the techniques that we used have been fully disclosed to appropriate members of the US Congress."

According to anonymous sources cited in The New York Times article, the classified 2005 legal opinion contained "an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency," and explicitly authorized the use of tactics including head-slapping, frigid temperatures, and the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding against terror suspects.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino confirmed the existence of the 2005 document but did not say whether techniques such as head slapping and waterboarding constitute "torture" under U.S. law. "I'm not going to get into specific tactics," Perino said. She added that disclosing specific interrogation methods could reduce the effectiveness of those methods by allowing terrorists to train to resist them.

Democrats expressed frustration with the Bush administration's secrecy on the issue of interrogation tactics. "The administration can’t have it both ways," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program."