'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, June 24, 2004

What Scottie Talks About When Scottie Talks About Torture 

From the White House press briefing two days ago:

Q So his position is a moral position? Or does he, in addition to that, believe that torture is not effective, just doesn't work?

MR. McCLELLAN: He has spoken out against torture. The United States is a leader when it comes to --

Q Does he think it works?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- confronting torture and speaking out against torture. And he does not condone it. Nor does he authorize torture. Let me be very clear on that.

Q You're not being clear about my question -- does he think it works?

MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of where, he spoke out on it last year, he spoke out on it in other circumstances prior to that when he was asked about this very issue.

Q -- had he seen any of the memos --

Q I'm asking a specific question: Does he think it's effective, ever?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're getting into hypothetical situations. He does not condone torture. Let me repeat --

Q I don't think anybody that heard that question thought it was hypothetical.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- he would never authorize the use of torture.

Q Would never? Has never, or would never?

MR. McCLELLAN: He has never, and he has no intention of ever authorizing the use of torture.

Q So none of the memos ever came to him, that have been revealed now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Dana.

I found the above interesting ... Scottie actually made an assertion: George W. Bush has never and will never authorize the use of torture -- which is why in 2002 Bush had the Justice Department write him a fifty page memo explaining why it is legal for the president to authorize the use of torture. Actually, Scottie's assertion is quite a claim given that the 2002 torture memo -- that defined torture very narrowly such that only the most extreme cases of physical abuse would constitute torture -- has now been officially repudiated.

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