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White House declines to rule out torture to thwart attack

Forbes | November 13 2005

WASHINGTON (AFX) - A top White House official refused to rule out the use of torture in an effort to prevent a major terrorist attack, arguing the war on terror could present a 'difficult dilemma' and the US administration was duty-bound to protect the American people.

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 tough 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 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 authored by Republican Senator John McCain and has lobbied senators to have the language removed or modified to allow an exemption for the Central Intelligence Agency.

During a trip to Panama earlier this month, President George W. Bush said that Americans 'do not torture.'

But appearing on CNN's 'Late Edition' program, Hadley elaborated on the policy, making clear the White House could envisage circumstances, in which the broad pledge not to torture might not apply. That appeared to include a possible imminent attack similar to that of September 11, 2001.

Hadley also pointed to the possibility of a compromise with the Senate on the McCain amendment, saying the White House was consulting with congressional leaders on the issue.

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