God bless Helen Thomas, the best thing about the White House Press Corps. More than a week after the revelation that President Bush knew and endorsed the Principals' specific plans of torturing detainees, the media has been largely silent over it other than cursory mentions at best. But Helen Thomas isn't about to go silently into that good night and becomes the first White House reporter to ask White House spokesliar Dana Perino about how the president could have lied multiple times that we do not torture only to turn around and admit that not only do we, but he approved of it.
Unfortunately, the designation of "spokesliar" fits Perino very well, as she denies and lies again that the U.S. does not torture. Who you gonna believe, Perino or your lying eyes?
During this afternoon’s White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas noted that Bush “has admitted that he did sign off on torture” saying it damages “the credibility of this country.” But press secretary Dana Perino denied that the United States has ever tortured detainees and referred to testimony from CIA Director Michael Hayden as evidence. [..]
In fact, during a February 5 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Hayden said outright that “waterboarding has been used” on three detainees in U.S. custody. But Hayden has refused to label waterboarding “torture,” calling it a “legal term” which seems to fit nicely with the Bush administration’s self-serving narrowed legal definition.
Seeming to acknowledge her colleagues’ absence on this story, an exasperated Thomas said out loud after her exchange with Perino: “Where is everybody? For God’s sakes.”
That's the $64,000 question, Helen. Where is everybody?
Kossack Elisinora finds that no one in the Principals group really wants to be confronted with the reality of their decisions. (h/t Heather)
Full Transcript below the fold:
THOMAS: The President has said publicly several times, in two consecutive news conferences a few months ago, and you have said over and over again, we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap?
MS. PERINO: Helen, you're taking liberties with the what the President said. The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard, and it is -- I'll leave it where it is. The President is accurate in saying what he said.
THOMAS: That's not my question. My question is, why did he state publicly, we do not torture --
MS. PERINO: Because we do not.
THOMAS: -- when he really did know that we do?
MS. PERINO: No, that's what I mean, Helen. We've talked about the legal authorities --
THOMAS: Are you saying that we did not?
MS. PERINO: I am saying we did not, yes.
THOMAS: How can you when you have photographs and everything else? I mean, how can you say that when he admits that he knew about it?
MS. PERINO: Helen, I think that you're -- again, I think you're conflating some issues and you're misconstruing what the President said.
THOMAS: I'm asking for the credibility of this country, not just this administration.
MS. PERINO: And what I'm telling you is we have -- torture has not occurred. And you can go back through all the public record. Just make sure -- I would just respectfully ask you not to misconstrue what the President said.
THOMAS: You're denying, in this room, that we torture and we have tortured?
MS. PERINO: Yes, I am denying that.
Elaine, did you have one?
Q I have one on Zimbabwe, actually.
THOMAS: Where is everybody?