Romney: It's not torture unless you admit it
CNN's Wolf Blitzer assails GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney over his lack of a definite opinion on whether the widely debated interrogation method known as "waterboarding" is torture.
Even as competitor and Arizona senator John McCain, along with United States Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, define "waterboarding" as torture, Romney remains strategically undecided.
"I just don't think it's productive for a president of the United States to lay out a list of what is specifically referred to as 'torture,'" he responds.
Citing "ticking time bomb" scenarios, Romney disagrees with the notion of admitting that a particular practice could violate the Geneva Convention, thereby preventing its utilization by the United States in the event of an urgent need to extract information to, for example, prevent a nuclear attack.
Romney touts the element of surprise, which, in addition to the deliberate creation of a legal grey area on what breaches international treaty, leaves a detainee at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing for what acts one can expect an agent acting on behalf of the United States to perform once one is captured.
Says Romney, "We have found it wise in the past not to describe precisely the techniques of interrogation that are used here in this country--also, so that people who are captured don't know what might be used against them."
The President, Romney concludes, is responsible for orders handed down to an interrogator, but also has the right to determine what is an appropriate interrogation technique to order an agent to perform.
The exchange can be viewed below, as aired on CNN's Late Edition on January 13, 2008.