A Question Bush Can't Answer

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; 12:16 PM

There are a lot of questions -- about a lot of things -- that President Bush can't seem to answer.

But Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, of all people, asked Bush one of the most important ones in an interview aired last night.

This one was about torture.

Here's the transcript ; here's the video .

O'Reilly raised the issue of waterboarding, a particularly appalling technique that CIA interrogators reportedly used on terror suspects.

O'Reilly: "Is waterboarding torture?"

Bush: "I don't want to talk about techniques. But I do assure the American people that we were within the law and we don't torture. I have said all along to the American people we won't torture. But we need to be in a position where we can interrogate these people."

Then came the question I've been waiting for someone to ask.

O'Reilly: " But if the public doesn't know what torture is or is not, as defined by the Bush Administration, how can the public make a decision on whether your policy is right or wrong? " [My emphasis.]

Bush's ducking of such an important question, it seems to me, is highly newsworthy. Here's the president's response, in its entirety:

Bush: "Well, one thing is that you can rest assured we are not going to talk about the techniques we use in a public forum, no matter how hard you try, because I don't want the enemy to be able to adjust their tactics if we capture them on the battlefield.

"But what the American people need to know is we have a program in place that is able to get intelligence from these people and we have used it to stop attacks. The intelligence community believes strongly that the information we got from the detainee questioning program yielded information that made America safer, that we stopped attacks.

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