Yesterday, Mike Allen asked the current President to respond to President Carter’s criticism of the current Administration’s torture policies. Here’s the exchange:
Q Now, Mr. President, President Carter recently told Charlie Rose the next President could change America‘s image in 10 minutes. Here’s what he said: “I think the next President could change the image of this country around the world in 10 minutes by making an inaugural speech that would start off and say, ‘As long as I’m President we will never torture another prisoner, as long as I’m President we will never attack or invade another country unless our own security is directly threatened.’”
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, what he ought to be saying is, is that America doesn’t torture. If the implication there is that we do now, then he’s wrong. And you bet we’re going to protect ourselves by the use of military force. What he really is implying is — or some imply — you can be popular; if you want to be popular in the Middle East just go blame Israel for every problem. That will make you popular. Or if you want to be popular in Europe, say you’re going to join the International Criminal Court.
Popularity is fleeting, Michael. Principles are forever.
It’s pretty difficult to square President Bush’s “America doesn’t torture” line with the fact that he himself knew his top aides were picking out actual torture techniques from inside the White House. I’d like to join President Carter in calling on the next President — whoever that is — to clearly state in his or her inaugural address that American no longer tortures.