June 22, 2004
White House Afraid That Fact That White House Authorized Torture Causing Growing Perception That White House Authorized Torture
Rove, Rice, Powell, Bush "Absolutely Panicked"; Cheney, Rumsfeld Unperturbed
White House officials today feared that its decision to seek to torture "enemy combatants" and terrorists might lead to the perception they had, in fact, done what they did.
"The minute the public catches on to what we actually do here everyday, we're finished," said an unamed functionary, Colin Powell.
In response to its fears, the White House released 258 pages of internal memos showing that the President, White House lawyers, and Donald Rumsfeld had explicitly approved the use of torture.
"These documents," the President said, "show that we never approved the use of torture."
The President explained that when he said, in one of the documents, that we "needed new thinking in the law of war," and that the "war on terror ushers in a new paradigm," he meant that we needed "the same old, humane thinking."
Documents show Donald Rumsfeld's kinder side, said White House officials. A document [note: pdf] that approved, among other things, forcing prisoners to stand for up to four hours at a time bore Rumsfled's notation, "Why only four? I stand for eight to ten hours day."
"What Secretary Rumsfeld meant was that prisoners would be given standing desks, several overly solicitous aides, a generous salary, as much coffee as they wanted, and air conditioning," said Albert Gonzalez, White House Counsel.
A document written by White House lawyers explicitly approving the use of torture was "being rewritten" to suggest that White House lawyers had approved giving prisoners lollipops and "non-expiring" cell phone minutes, said Gonzalez.
The White House refused to release further documents because they would only show, in even more specific and graphic language, spokesmen said, that torture was not condoned.
"To release these other documents," said Donald Rumsfeld with a smile, "would just be overkill."
Update: Headline shortened from "White House Afraid That Fact That White House Authorized Torture As Interrogation Technique Causing Growing Perception That White House Authorized Torture As Interrogation Technique" because when it's shorter, it's better.
Posted by Tom Burka at 1:52 PM