This week, documents obtained by the ACLU suggested the Bush Administration's modus operandi for interrogating suspected terrorists. In carefully crafted language, assistant attorney general, Jay Bybee, informed CIA operatives that they would not be guilty of torture if the acted "in good faith" in interrogating suspects. Bybee noted that the "good faith" requirement would be met if interrogators acted without the intent to cause the type of pain that one would endure were one dying or suffering organ failure.
Responding to the wording in the documents, President Bush confirmed that the Administration has taken a new position on interrogations that is consistent with the U.S. commitment not to engage in acts of torture. "We don't mess 'round with that. . . uh, uh," Bush said. "That--those things. . . We just don't," he added.
What it was that the Administration did not mess 'round with was unclear, particularly after Bush attempted to clarify the U.S. policy on interrogations and torture.
"We have a very firm--very firm--and very fair policy," the President said as he adjusted the crook in his tie. "It's, it's a policy that is just very firm and very fair--I don't know how else to say it."
When pressed to try, Bush offered that "the test, the litmus test, if you will, is in the pudding."
Responding to one reporter's suggestion that his reply made no sense, Bush screwed up his eyes, turned his head so that his cheek was parallel to the podium, and replied, "Who? What? Come on now, Sally. That's like we say down in Texas--it's not how you finish but what the person before you said--or something like that. You print what you want--I know you're gonna anyway." [President laughs, press corps chuckles nervously, President grabs podium with one arm and rights himself as his suit bulges on one shoulder and pinches on the other].
Appeased, the reporter sat down only to be followed up by a more serious looking reporter from the White House press corps. "What does it mean to be like death or organ failure? What are the symptoms? How would one know when to stop? And is this policy still in place? If not, what is the current U.S. policy aimed at discouraging the use of torture in interrogations?"
"Sam, Sam," Bush replied, half-smiling as he picked at his molars with his tongue attempting to dislodge a jelly bean that he had eaten a day earlier. "You know that that's all whatever we make of it, right?"
"Ah, I don't follow you," Sam answered, wanting to jot down the response but unable to move.
"It's just like I said, it is what it is," President Bush answered. "It's pain--it hurts. We all hurt, Sam. But that's a good thing. Not bad. People say, 'Mr. President, why is gas so expensive? Mr. President, why are we still in Iraq? Mr. President, why is the economy faltering?' That's not me, that's them. Heck, Sam, I don't know. It's because it is good. And the Democrats, they want you to think that everything is bad. That nothing is good. But ask them if they've passed my off-shore and refuge drilling bill."
Defeated, Sam sat down. Nobody followed.