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White House: We Don’t Torture, Unless by Torture You Mean Drowning, Beating to Death with Sticks or Suffocation

Washington – White House Press Secretary Dana Perino reiterated her assertion today that the United States does not torture detainees in its custody. The White House has faced harsh criticism over news of a secret 2005 Justice Department opinion which allegedly endorsed the CIA’s most severe interrogation tactics. Though the White House maintains that the U.S. does not torture people, including suspected terrorists, it has yet to define what it considers torture to be. A reporter asked Perino, who speaks on behalf of the White House, if, for example, agents working for the United States ever drown detainees.

“Oh, yeah,” Perino said. “Drowning? Yeah. For sure.”

The reporter was taken back a bit, but continued. “Okay, what about beating detainees with sticks, let’s say. To death. Do we do that?”

“Uh, yeah. Sticks to death? Yeah. We do that,” Perino replied.

“Really? How about suffocation?” a second reporter asked. “Do we suffocate detainees?”

“Do we suffocate?” Perino repeated. “Uh, yeah. Why wouldn’t we?”

“So then, how can you say we don’t torture?” the reporter wondered.

“Wait, wait. Wait. Is that what you guys mean by torture?” Perino asked, truly sounding surprised. “Good God. I mean, yeah, if that’s what you mean by torture, then, yeah, I suppose you can say the United States engages in torture. Fine. You got me. Okay?”

“Well, what do you mean by torture then?” a different reporter asked, with some hesitation.

“Me? Oh, I don’t know,” Perino said. She pondered for a moment. “Uh, pulling out a detainee’s eyes with a, with a set of salad thongs, let’s say. That would qualify. Um, attaching a detainee’s tongue to the back of a truck, binding the detainee to a chair, and then having the truck speed away. Just, Vroom! You know. And, the tongue, it would be–there would be a demonstrable effect. To that kind of thing.”

A stunned reporter managed to point out, “But… But then the detainee wouldn’t be able to tell you anything anymore. He would–he would no longer have a tongue.”

“Hey, you asked me what torture means to me, and I told you,” Perino replied. “I didn’t say it was practical. Your definition may be mamby-pamby baby-waby. That’s fine for you. My definition is pulling out eyes and tongues. Okay? You know, ‘You say tomato,’ blah blah. However the hell that goes. And it’s not my fault he’s a suspected terrorist. If he wanted to keep his tongue, maybe he should have thought about that before joining Al Qaeda and plotting to destroy freedom. Next question.”