During President Bush’s press conference this morning, The Washington Post’s Peter Baker asked him if he “had read” a highly confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that “has found an interrogation program in CIA detention facilities, [that] used interrogation techniques that were ‘tantamount to torture.'” Details of the Red Cross report were revealed recently by the New Yorker.
“Haven’t seen it; we don’t torture,” Bush bluntly responded before moving on to another question. Watch it:
Bush’s ignorant denial of torture is hardly convincing, considering he is apparently unaware of the allegations coming from the Red Cross, “which is known for its credibility and caution.” The report alleges “that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment” at CIA “black sites” may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions:
One of the sources said that the Red Cross described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.
Though Bush claims to have not “seen” the report, others in his administration have. According to the New Yorker, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Rice’s legal adviser John Bellinger III, CIA director Michael Hayden and his acting general counsel John Rizzo are all “believed to have seen it.”
Given the documented abuses at Abu Ghraib, President Bush would be wise to actually read reports like the Red Cross’s before definitively declaring “we don’t torture.”