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.
President Bush defended his administration's methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects on Friday, saying both are successful and lawful.
"When we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them, and you bet we're going to question them," he said during a hastily called Oval Office appearance. "The American people expect us to find out information, actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That's our job."
Senate and House Democrats demanded Thursday to see two secret memos that reportedly authorize painful interrogation tactics against terror suspects — despite the Bush administration's insistence that it has not violated U.S. anti-torture laws.
White House and Justice Department press officers said legal opinions written in 2005 did not reverse an administration policy issued in 2004 that publicly renounced torture as "abhorrent."
Over and over, President Bush confidently promised to "solve problems, not pass them on to future presidents and future generations." As the clock runs out on his eight-year presidency, a tall stack of troubles remain and Bush's words ring hollow.
Iraq, budget deficits, the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare, high health and energy costs, a national immigration mess — the next president will inherit these problems in January 2009. With Bush's popularity at an all time low and relations with the Democratic-led Congress acrimonious, he has little or no chance of pulling off a surprise victory in his time left.
President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed legislation expanding a health care program mostly aimed at poor children, a politically risky move ahead of the November 2008 elections.
The president's Democratic foes, unable to curtail the unpopular war in Iraq, have seized on his opposition to their plan to build up the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a potent political weapon.
If President Bush had a history of opposing big government and big spending, his choice of a child health insurance bill for only the fourth veto of his presidency might be more understandable.
But he has calmly presided over the largest increase in spending and the creation of the largest government entitlement -- prescription drugs -- since the Great Society. It is probably not far off to say his abrupt conversion to limited government and fiscal prudence has everything to do with the Democrats now being in charge of Congress.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $190 billion in 2008, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, making it the most expensive year in the conflicts since they were launched by President George W. Bush.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked Congress to approve the funding after Bush this month beat back demands from Democrats for a quick end to the Iraq war and said the U.S. presence there would go on after he leaves office in 2009.
President Bush is banking on Americans' short memories and the fact that most of them, having real lives, are not terribly engrossed in the congressional budget process.
That explains his brazenness in denouncing this Democratic-run Congress for failing to pass all or even most of the 12 funding bills for the government by the Sept. 30 deadline.
The Democrats complain that Bush, who couldn't be prodded into vetoing anything when the Republicans were running Congress, is now threatening to veto 10 of these bills if they are passed.
A leading Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of interfering in congressional inquiries into corruption in Iraq's government and the activities of U.S. security firm Blackwater.
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said State Department officials had told the Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs they could not provide details of corruption in Iraq's government unless the information was treated as a "state secret" and not revealed to the public.
US Vice President Richard Cheney has considered provoking an exchange of military strikes between Iran and Israel in order to give the United States a pretext to attack Iran, Newsweek magazine reported in its Monday issue.
But the weekly said the steady departure of neoconservatives from the administration over the past two years had helped tilt the balance away from war.
One official who pushed a particularly hawkish line on Iran was David Wurmser, who had served since 2003 as Cheney's Middle East adviser, the report said.