Here’s how President Bush defined torture at yesterday’s press conference.
Q Thank you, sir. A simple question.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It may require a simple answer.
Q What’s your definition of the word “torture”?
THE PRESIDENT: Of what?
Q The word “torture.” What’s your definition?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture.
Q Can you give me your version of it, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever the law says.
Of course, the Bush Administration has done its utmost to define “torture” down to the point where even horrific practices do not meet the definition. In fact, according to the President’s July 20th Executive Order on CIA interrogations, as long as the techniques are being used with the aim of gathering intelligence and not merely to satisfy sadistic impulses of the interrogator, everything is allowed.
This exchange reveals what’s at stake with the Mukasey confirmation process. The next Attorney General will be advising the President on what the law says. We’ll be posting shortly on some of the problems with the answers Judge Mukasey just gave in his Senate confirmation hearing on what he thinks the definition of torture is.