The United States appears to be illegally torturing terror suspects contrary to denials by President George W. Bush, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday.

The country’s highest ranking Democrat also said that she still hoped to get most US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008, despite the party’s repeated failure to win over enough Republicans in Congress to an exit strategy.

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Pelosi said reported interrogation tactics such as simulated drowning, head slapping and exposure to extreme temperatures all amounted to banned torture.

“There is a legal definition of torture that I believe this would fit. The president says it is not,” she said.

But the House speaker said she had received only limited briefings from the Bush administration on its interrogation tactics, and had not seen a controversial memo issued in 2005 by the Justice Department.

The New York Times said last week the department’s document had authorized violent techniques in interrogations of “war on terror” suspects — in the same year that Congress explicitly banned torture.

“This government does not torture people. We stick to US law and our international obligations,” Bush insisted Friday as he defended his “war on terror” launched after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

He said that “when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re gonna detain him and you bet we’re gonna question him.”

Pelosi, however, said violent interrogation methods did not work “and I think that protecting the American people being our top priority, we should do so in a way that is within the law.”

“And experts agree that you do not obtain reliable intelligence through using these tactics and you diminish our reputation in the world, which hurts the cooperation we need to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people.”

In an editorial Sunday, the New York Times accused Bush and his aides of conducting “a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.”

The CIA had “modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union,” it said, while the Washington Post opined that Bush’s denials “can’t change the facts.”

The Post urged the Democratic-led Congress, in confirmation hearings for Bush’s attorney-general nominee Michael Mukasey, to press for an assurance that current CIA interrogation techniques “strictly apply” US law.

On Iraq, Pelosi said House Democrats were “much more optimistic” about executing a swift end to the war than leading Democratic presidential candidates such as Senator Hillary Clinton appear to be.

She said that despite losing a series of congressional votes, the Democrats’ strategy is still to get US troops “out in large numbers by the end of next year, and that is not contradicted by the leadership of Iraq.”

Speaking on CNN Sunday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the United States could withdraw more than 100,000 troops from Iraq by the end of 2008 but should retain three permanent bases.

Pelosi, America’s first woman speaker, said it would be “very, very exciting” to have Clinton as the first female president, but reiterated that she would remain above the fray until the Democrats select a nominee.

The speaker, a practicing Catholic, added that she prayed “all the time” for Bush’s health and well-being — but also for the Republican leader to change course on Iraq and domestic policy.

Asked on Fox if she prayed for US troops to win in Iraq, she said: “Of course I do. Of course. What a question.”


  1. Eliduc To “Why Are We Always Surprised?”

    Who exactly is the religious right? I have been a born again Christian since 1992 and I have never heard a Christian pastor utter a political word either publicly or privately. I don’t even know what the political affiliations of the pastors of my home church are and there are several pastors. I moved two years ago and now attend a different church and there is no political “direction” given there either. Just because a person (George W. Bush) claims he is a Christian does not make it so. His deceitfulness, deviousness, lack of regard for human life, and materialism speak louder than his words. In the last two elections I didn’t feel that either the Democrat or Republican candidate was worthy of my vote. Our pastors advocate for peace and love and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. They preach against all of the same things that you should hate about GWB.

  2. I never thought, as a child, that I’d have to explain to people in America why torture is wrong.

    Regarding the nitwit, “what if the enemy has a bomb?” scenario: the enemy could make exactly the same claim against our soldiers. They could say, “what if this American soldier had knowledge of an upcoming attack on our homeland? Torture him to get the facts!”

    What goes around, comes around.

    Torture is not used to get intelligence, but to get phony confessions.

    If you want intel, you try to befriend the captive. I recall the story of a legendary German interrogator during WWII whose technique was to offer a nice meal to his “guest.” He’d start out by complimenting the captive on how well his army was equipped, and how well they fought. Then he’d compliment their equipment. Then he’d compliment their obviously perfect strategy and tactics.

    “Nah,” the subject would often volunteer, “our strategy was terrible. Here’s where we went wrong….”

    “And our equipment isn’t that good. The problem with our tanks is….”

    Before long, the subject would be telling the interrogator all kinds of things he’d never tell a torturer.

    There is a natural human tendency to want to brag about how much one knows about tactics and strategy and equipment. This German could get his captives to talk about all kinds of stuff. And he never tortured, because he knew that if he did, the subject would just tell him what he wanted to hear.

  3. The democraps have been running around, grinning, patting each other on the back, and clapping their hands in glee ever since they regained the majority. They said what they had to say to gain the seats in congress and promptly reversed themselves the day following the elcetion. “Impeachment is off the table.”

    This topic is simply one of the many dispicable things the repugnant administration has to be exposed that provides the democraps the golden opportunity to litteraly wipe the GOP out for at least a whole generation. They have no intention of removing Bush or stopping the war. Instead, using the last two years of Bush’s term to conduct “exposure hearings” to bombard the public with how bad a republican is.

    Anything Bush wants to do that will piss the voters off, like more wiretapping, or starting more trouble with other countries, or continuing to get our soldiers killed we will authorize as long as we can make it look like he and the repugnats still left in congress are responsible. Make the voters understand they must elect more democraps.

    By the time the next election rolls around there may not be a repugnant on some of the ballots. The democraps will rule for at least 20 years. They are some happy campers.

    What’s that you said? Soldiers are dying in Iraq? Well, yeah, but not a whole lot and it’s for the greater good of the party.

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