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No, Ted Cruz Did Not Say That Bush-Era Interrogation Tactics Were Torture

TPM gets this one wrong...
No, Ted Cruz Did Not Say That Bush-Era Interrogation Tactics Were Torture

I'm a fan of Talking Points Memo, but this is wrong:

Cruz Calls CIA Interrogation Tactics Revealed In Senate Report 'Torture'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) described the tactics used by CIA post-9/11 as "torture" during a Wednesday speech.

Breitbart's Charlie Spiering asked Cruz about the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.

"Do you think that what occurred after 9/11 hurt our moral authority?" Spiering asked.

Cruz reponded by criticizing the release of the report as political and condemning the harsh interrogation tactics CIA agents used on detainees....

No, that's not what he did. He condemned torture in the abstract. That's no different from George W. Bush saying, "We don't torture." It implies that the definition of torture is "bad stuff other than what Americans did to detainees after 9/11."

Here's the video of Cruz's speech and the Q&A session that followed, from the Heritage Society website.

Cruz discusses torture in response to Spiering's question at approximately 1:00:32. This is Cruz's complete answer to that question (emphasis added):

Charlie, thank you for that question. Yesterday was a sad day for the United States and for our friends and allies across the globe. We saw the release of a partisan report from Democrats in the Senate, six thousand pages, that presented a biased view of what our intelligence officers did in the aftermath of 9/11 and that weakened our nation. It endangered Americans across the globe. And the risk of retaliation, of violence, is real. But even more broadly, it demonstrates an approach that has characterized this administration for six years, which is everything, everything, everything is George W. Bush's fault. Enough already with blaming George W. Bush for every failure of this administration. At a time when the entire world is on fire, I recognize that President Obama and Senate Democrats see value in harkening back six years ago, and piling onto his predecessor. Now, let me be clear: torture is wrong -- unambiguously, period, the end. Civilized nations do not engage in torture, and Congress has rightly acted to make absolutely clear that the United States will not engage in torture. You know, one of the most disturbing consequences of this partisan Democrat report that was released yesterday is the long-term damages this is going to do to our friends and alliances across the globe. In the aftermath of 9/11, a great many nations, some traditional friends of America, others not so traditional, worked closely with America combating radical Islamic terrorism. The international repercussions of this partisan report are just beginning, as friends and allies across the globe are rethinking, "Do we want to cooperate with a nation where our cooperation will find itself broadcast to the world through a reckless and irresponsible partisan report?" That's one of the consequences, I think, that will be with us for a long, long time the next time we're reaching out to an ally saying, "Help us prevent the next 9/11. Help us prevent the next terror attack." This report's going to make it all the harder for that friendship and that cooperation to occur.


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See what he does there -- or doesn't do? He doesn't say that Americans tortured. He doesn't say that any of the techniques cited in the Senate report are torture. He doesn't offer his definition of torture. His condemnation of torture, therefore, is just a lot of weasel words.

And note that he says, "Civilized nations do not engage in torture." Would he say America is a civilized nation? Hell yes. Would he say it was a civilized nation in the Bush years? I'm sure he'd say it was more civilized then than now -- Obama wasn't president. So we didn't torture, according to Cruz. Nothing civilized nations do ever rises to that level, by definition.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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