On April 9, ABC News reported that in 2002, President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics. Sadly, the media have largely ignored the story since it was first reported. Moreover, not one White House press corps reporter has raised the issue with the Bush administration…until today.
During this afternoon’s White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas noted that Bush “has admitted that he did sign off on torture” saying it damages “the credibility of this country.” But press secretary Dana Perino denied that the United States has ever tortured detainees and referred to testimony from CIA Director Michael Hayden as evidence:
THOMAS: The president has said [...] we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap? [...]
PERINO: The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard. [...] And you can go back through all the public record.
In fact, during a February 5 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Hayden said outright that “waterboarding has been used” on three detainees in U.S. custody. But Hayden has refused to label waterboarding “torture,” calling it a “legal term” which seems to fit nicely with the Bush administration’s self-serving narrowed legal definition.
Seeming to acknowledge her colleagues’ absence on this story, an exasperated Thomas said out loud after her exchange with Perino: “Where is everybody? For God’s sakes.”