YesterdayDana Peroxide Handled The Gaggle, So Why Are We Stuck With Former Rick Santorum MouthpieceTony Farto Today? Could It Be They Don’t Trust Intelligence-Challenged Dana To Handle The Delicate Torture Questions?
Q General Hayden confirmed yesterday that the CIA subjected three terrorist suspects to waterboarding, and you talked a little bit about that this morning. Would you tell us if there were other instances where interrogators used that technique?
MR. FRATTO: I think General Hayden in his testimony yesterday limited it to the three terrorist suspects that he mentioned.
Q So that is all that — those are the only three?
MR. FRATTO: To my knowledge, and according to the testimony in front of Congress of General Hayden, that’s as I understand it.
Q And how many times with each of those suspects?
MR. FRATTO: I’d have to refer you to the CIA for questions on operations and how they conduct them.
Q But you’re not saying it was just once for each of the detainees?
MR. FRATTO: I am not saying anything in terms of how the interrogation was handled specifically with specific detainees. For those kinds of questions, the best place to go is to the Central Intelligence Agency, since they operate the program.
Q And earlier you suggested that it would not be ruled out for possible use in the future?
MR. FRATTO: Again, I think I’d refer you to the testimony yesterday where the intelligence chiefs didn’t rule anything out.
Q But does the administration maintain that waterboarding is not torture, or that any method of interrogation that it uses is not torture?
MR. FRATTO: Yes, torture is illegal. We don’t torture — we maintain and as we have said many times that the programs have been reviewed, and the Department of Justice has determined them to be legal.
Q But the General, himself, said in a recent interview that he thinks it’s probably torture, and he has said that we have used it.
MR. FRATTO: I don’t think that’s accurate.
Q Yes, well, he said it seemed like it would be to him.
MR. FRATTO: I’m sorry, to Director McConnell?
Q McConnell, sorry, not —
MR. FRATTO: In The New Yorker — and I think Director McConnell in his testimony yesterday in a conversation with Senator Feinstein I think explained those comments, and explained how they were out of context.
Torture — So Good We Can’t Use It
Q So is waterboarding currently authorized?
MR. FRATTO: No, it’s not. It’s not, and I think that was mentioned yesterday, and the Attorney General Mukasey last week also made clear it is not currently authorized in this program.
Q Just to clarify, so you’re saying that it’s not torture and you’re saying it’s effective — then why is it not currently authorized, waterboarding?
MR. FRATTO: General Hayden addressed that, he talked about any technique that you use, you use it under certain circumstances.
Torture Means What They Say It Means
Q Tony, Senator Durbin, who has been talking about this on the floor says, look, this technique has been used since the Spanish Inquisition; for five centuries it’s been known as torture, American prosecutors actually obtained convictions against Japanese after World War II because of what they did to American captives. What about it makes it not torture now? Is it just the circumstances?
MR. FRATTO: I don’t think that’s a question I can answer. But that is a question that the Department of Justice answered on behalf of the CIA when they reviewed the components of the program. So I don’t — I wouldn’t purport to be an expert on the technique and how it’s used and the legal backing, so I would refer you to DOJ on that. But they did go through a process of determining the legality of it.
Q So they have basically changed the definition of torture because of the requirements of U.S. —
MR. FRATTO: I don’t think that’s accurate, no.
Q — of the moment?
MR. FRATTO: No, I don’t think that’s the case at all, and I don’t think that’s the way DOJ would explain it.
We All Know Chimpy Watched Those Tapes, Mr. Farto
Q The investigation the Justice Department is running on the CIA tapes by the U.S. Attorney, the scope of that investigation, as you understand it, is the destruction of the tapes, what was on the tapes, both of those? And any additional information?
MR. FRATTO: I understand that the scope is the destruction of the tapes. But I’m going to refer you to the Department of Justice to talk about, you know, further — if there’s any further widening of the scope, or any reason for it. The case is in the hands of the U.S. Attorney that the Attorney General appointed to handle this case. We have great faith in his integrity and his independence to follow the case and follow the facts.
Q Is there — does the President know what was on the tapes? He doesn’t need any further knowledge as to what was actually on those tapes?
MR. FRATTO: Not that I’m aware of.
Tony Farto Blames Everyone
Q Tony, who is to blame for the fact that al Qaeda has been able, to some extent, reconstitute itself in the Pakistani border region?
MR. FRATTO: Well, first of all, it’s al Qaeda who is to blame for reconstituting it, because that is their mission. This is not —
Q Well, that’s — I mean, that’s a clear dodge. I mean, that’s like —
MR. FRATTO: Well, I wasn’t done. (Laughter.)
Q Oh, I’m sorry; go ahead.
MR. FRATTO: I wasn’t done. But we have to remember that the enemy is to blame for what they do. And we, in this global partnership, who are fighting al Qaeda, are trying to fight — defeat them every way and in every place that we can.
You know, I guess collectively we are to blame if al Qaeda is successful again in carrying out an attack on America, or one of our allies, or one of our vital interests around the world. So, you know, collectively we’ll work together to try to defeat al Qaeda. If we fail in an instance, I think it’s a collective failure.
Q What do you mean — who’s in the collection? What do you mean, “collectively”?
MR. FRATTO: All of our partners who are allied to defeat al Qaeda.
And Now, Your Daily Les
Q Thank you. The frightening possibility of a “Billary” co-presidency will persuade most conservative Republicans to support Senator McCain or possibly Governor Romney, don’t you and the President think?
MR. FRATTO: We’re not doing political analysis.
Q But, I mean, what do you think?
MR. FRATTO: For me to express what I think would be publicly doing political analysis. I’m going to pass on that.