[JURIST] US President George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] on Monday defended US interrogation techniques [press conference transcript] in the war on terror and insisted that the US does not torture terror detainees. Answering questions about reports of a secret CIA facility in Eastern Europe [JURIST report] and efforts by Vice President Cheney to seek an exemption for the CIA [JURIST report] from proposed legislation [JURIST document] banning the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" interrogation techniques, Bush said:
Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.Cheney has argued that CIA agents should be allowed to use "cruel, inhuman or degrading" interrogation tactics if the president decides such procedures are necessary to prevent an imminent terrorist attack. Bush's comments come the day after a Republican Senator criticized the administration's opposition to the torture ban [JURIST report], calling it a "terrible mistake." AP has more.
And, therefore, we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible -- more possible to do our job. There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that's why you're seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We -- all of us have an obligation, and it's a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I'm confident that when people see the facts, that they'll recognize that we've -- they've got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful.