Posted by: Tony Carson | 5 October, 2007

“We do not torture.” Honest.

Every time the Bush administration is accused of torture the response from the White House is immediate and unequivocal.

When the New York Times reported on its front page Thursday that the Justice Department had issued a secret legal opinion in 2005 approving a combination of particularly tough interrogation tactics, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said, “The bottom line is that we do not use torture.”

When Congress and the White House battled over detainee rights in 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney argued that techniques like simulated drowning didn’t amount to torture.

And last August, after the New Yorker reported the latest in a string of private memos sent to the U.S. government by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) asserting that U.S. interrogation techniques were “tantamount to torture”, President Bush said curtly, “We don’t torture.”

The Administration says its firm, absolutist assertions are designed to protect U.S. troops in case they are captured: by insisting the U.S. doesn’t torture, the hope is others will feel compelled to refrain from doing so.

But in practice, the administration’s declarations have exactly the opposite effect. It’s not just that Washington has very little credibility on the issue, given all the evidence linking the U.S. to torture that has surfaced in recent years, including the opinion of the international body charged with observing detainee treatment.

More importantly, by continuing to battle with the ICRC and other international organizations over the definition of torture, the Bush administration is undermining those groups and diminishing their chances of protecting captured U.S. troops in the future.

The story is at Time: Bush’s Dangerous Torture(d) Stance

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