Bush declares: 'We do not torture'
Updated: 2005-11-08 07:42
U.S. President Bush on Monday defended U.S. interrogation practices and
called the treatment of terrorism suspects lawful. "We do not torture," Bush
declared in response to reports of secret CIA prisons overseas.
Bush supported an effort spearheaded by Vice President Dick Cheney to block
or modify a proposed Senate-passed ban on torture.
U.S. President Bush speaks during a joint
press statement with Panama's President Martin Torrijos, unseen, at Casa
Amarillo in Panama City on Monday, Nov. 7, 2005.
"We're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it
possible, more possible, to do our job," Bush said. "There's an enemy that lurks
and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet we will
aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law."
Cheney is seeking to persuade Congress to exempt the Central Intelligence
Agency from the proposed torture ban if one is passed by both chambers.
Bush spoke at a news conference with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos on
the same day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a challenge to the
administration's military tribunals for foreign terror suspects.
In a case entailing a major test of the government's wartime powers, justices
will decide whether Osama bin Laden's former driver can be tried for war crimes
before military officers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, U.S. military forces have held
hundreds of suspects at known installations outside the United States, including
at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that five additional terror suspects at
Guantanamo will face military trials on various charges including attacking
civilians and murder. That brought to nine out of about 500 detainees at the
facility who have been charged with criminal offenses.
Bush was asked about reports that the CIA was separately maintaining secret
prisons in eastern Europe and Asia to interrogate al-Qaida suspects — and
demands by the International Red Cross for access to them.
Without confirming or denying the existence of such prisons, Bush said, "Our
country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American
He pointedly noted that Congress shares that responsibility with the
"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 end in this effort, any
activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture," Bush said.
The European Union is investigating reports of the CIA prisons. The story was
first reported by The Washington Post.