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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Bush enters Cheney 'torture row'
US President George W Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney in the background
Mr Bush has repeatedly refused to specify which techniques are used
US President George Bush has reiterated his position that the US administration does not condone torture, following comments by Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In an interview, Mr Cheney agreed that "a dunk in the water" for terrorism suspects during questioning in order to save American lives was a "no-brainer".

His comments have provoked outrage from anti-torture and human rights groups.

When asked about the remark, President Bush said that the United States does not use torture and was not going to.

This country doesn't torture, we're not going to torture
President George Bush

Mr Cheney is assumed by human rights groups to have been referring to "water boarding" - a technique in which suspects are made to think that they are drowning.

President Bush did not comment on particular techniques.

"This country doesn't torture, we're not going to torture," Mr Bush was quoted by the Associated Press news agency during a photo session in Washington DC.

"We will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they've got information that will be helpful to protect the country," he said.

Mr Cheney's comment was made on Tuesday but only came to light on Friday, exacerbated by a stormy and confrontational White House press briefing.

'Off limits'

The conservative radio host, Scott Hennen, asked Mr Cheney if he agreed that "a dunk in water is a no-brainer" if it would unearth information of pending attacks and save lives.

Mr Cheney replied: "Well, it's a no-brainer for me." He went on to say that he was not condoning torture but said you can have a robust interrogation programme without torture.

White House spokesman Tony Snow faced pointed questioning from reporters.

"The vice-president says he was talking in general terms about a questioning program that is legal to save American lives, and he was not referring to water boarding," he said.

A detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre (file image)
Evidence has emerged of the existence of secret CIA prisons

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington DC asked whether it was possible that, 10 days before mid-term elections, the vice-president was signalling to hard-line Republicans that he preferred that the process was still being used.

The White House gave the impression that water boarding would be off limits when it pushed through a controversial terror bill just a few weeks ago, our correspondent says.

The US executive director of Amnesty International said Mr Cheney's gaffe revealed the US administration's true intentions for prisoner interrogation in the future.

"What's really a no-brainer is that no US official, much less a vice-president, should champion torture," said Larry Cox.

US interrogation techniques have been under the spotlight since evidence emerged of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the existence of secret CIA prisons.

Dick Cheney's comments on terror suspects

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