National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, thinking hard about what the latest U.S. policy on torture is.

Someone remind me – isn’t torture against the law? Didn’t the Chimp just tell us last week that Americans do not torture — or did someone let the dunce-in-chief go off-message yet again?

A “clarification” was issued out of this confused and criminal administration today. This time, the stooge of the hour was National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who trotted out to make sure everyone understood where the U.S. stands when it comes to putting the thumbscrews to people in the government’s custody. Don’t forget, we must refer to torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” (AFP):

In an important clarification of President George W. Bush’s earlier statement, a top White House official refused to unequivocally rule out the use of torture, arguing the US administration was duty-bound to protect Americans from terrorist attack.

The comment, by US national security adviser Stephen Hadley, came amid heated national debate about whether the CIA and other US intelligence agencies should be authorized to use what is being referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” to extract from terror suspects information that may help prevent future assaults.

The US Senate voted 90-9 early last month to attach an amendment authored by Republican Senator John McCain to a defense spending bill that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of detainees in US custody. But the White House has threatened to veto the measure and has lobbied senators to have the language removed or modified to allow an exemption for the Central Intelligence Agency.

You’ll recall that soft tushy punching bag Scotty McClellan refused to answer any of the 16 questions asked of him about Cheney wanting an exemption for torture at a press briefing last week, so they are dancing on the head of a pin over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We’ve also got senators differing over the efficacy of torture, er, “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Republican Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Newsweek magazine that “enhanced interrogation techniques” had worked with at least one captured high-level Al-Qaeda operative, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, to thwart an unspecified plot.

…A compromise with senators was in the works, Hadley assured, saying the White House was holding consultations with them about the McCain amendment. He offered no specifics about the administration’s goals in these talks. But McCain, who appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, said White House negotiators led by Vice President Richard Cheney were pushing to safeguard the option of using the enhanced interrogation techniques in order to get information from detainees in extraordinary circumstances.

The senator said he disagreed with that approach because he was worried about the damage to the image of the United States. “I hold no brief for the terrorists,” he said. “But it’s not about them. It’s about us. This battle we’re in is about the things we stand for and believe in and practice. And that is an observance of human rights, no matter how terrible our adversaries may be.”

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding