At the G8 Summit, reporters asked Bush whether he authorized torture. Three times, Bush said he issued instructions to "adhere to law." But Bush's Federalist Society lawyers took crystal-clear law that flatly prohibited torture, and twisted it up into a pretzel to permit torture by the CIA and the Pentagon. Republicans insist Bush is "morally superior" to John Kerry because he speaks simply, directly, and right to the point. Let's put this to the test: Mr. Bush, did you or did you not approve a CHANGE in U.S. government policy to allow techniques that were previously considered torture under U.S. law and policy? We DEMAND all memos about Bush's consideration of and instructions regarding interrogation of prisoners.
June 10, 2004
Bush's News Conference at Summit of Industrial Nations
Q: Mr. President, the Justice Department issued and advisory opinion last year declaring that, as commander in chief, you have the authority to order any kind of interrogation techniques that are necessary to pursue the war on terror. Were you aware of this advisory opinion? Do you agree with it? And did you issue any such authorization at any time?
BUSH: The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations. That's the message I gave our people.
Q: Have you seen the memos?
BUSH: I can't remember if I've seen the memo or not, but I gave those instructions.
Q: Returning to the question of torture, if you knew a person was in U.S. custody and had specific information about an imminent terrorist attack that could kill hundreds or even thousands of Americans, would you authorize the use of any means necessary to get that information and to save those lives?
BUSH: What I've authorized is that we stay within U.S. law.
Q: Mr. President, I wanted to return to the question of torture. What we've learned from these memos this week is that the Department of Justice lawyers and the Pentagon lawyers have essentially worked out a way that U.S. officials can torture detainees without running afoul of the law.
So when you say that you want the U.S. to adhere to international and U.S. laws, that's not very comforting. This is a moral question: Is torture ever justified?
BUSH: Look, I'm going to say it one more time. Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you.
We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at these laws. And that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions from me to the government.