High school scholars discuss meeting with Bush.

Last week, a group of “50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program” handed a letter to President Bush urging him to put a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States. The handwritten letter said in part, “We do not want America to represent torture.” The young woman who handed Bush the letter, Mari Oye, talked with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman about the interaction:

OYE: [Bush] read down the letter. He got to the part about torture. He looked up, and he said, “America doesn’t torture people”. And I said, “If you look specifically at the points we made” — because we were careful to outline specific things that are wrong with the administration’s policy. He said — so I said, “If you look specifically at what we said, we said, we ask you to cease illegal renditions,” and then I said, you know, “Please remove your signing statement to the McCain anti-torture bill.” And then I said that for me personally, the issue of detainee rights also had a lot of importance, because my grandparents had been interned during World War II for being Japanese American.

At that point, he just said, “America doesn’t torture people” again. And another kid, actually, from Montana came forward and said, “Please make the US a leader in human rights.” And that happened in the space of about a minute, but it was a very interesting minute with the President of the United States.

Watch a video of the interview here.