08/10/2007 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 occupation 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.
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."