Tony Snow in ‘Dunking’ Contest with Press

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By: E&P Staff

At his White House press briefing today, Tony Snow fielded numerous questions on Vice President Cheney?s statement to a radio host earlier this week that seemed to suggest that giving terror suspects a ?dunk? in the water to elicit information was a ?no-brainer.? Many in the press have said this is a clear reference to waterboarding.

Snow said the vice president ?did not mean that? and refused to go further than that, despite mounting skepticism from the press corps. Snow admitted, ?I can understand why people would look at this and draw conclusions you have drawn.? But he added: ?I think maybe it?s the end of the week and you guys are getting whipped into a frenzy.?

Finally, he promised to go to Cheney directly (not an aide) and get a direct response.

He said Cheney is not a guy who ?slips up,? but a reporter wondered if, in fact, it was no slip up?that is, we do waterboard, and the vice president wanted to signal to voters that the Republicans are tougher than the Democrats.

Asked to define “a dunk in the water,” Snow replied: “A dunk in the water.”

A reporter later asked, if dunking does not mean waterboarding, does that mean there?s a new swimming pool at Guantanomo? That did not get a reply.

Snow did list four ?no-brainers?: ?We don?t torture. We don?t break the law. The vice president does not give away techniques.? The fourth related to the administration believing in interrogation to save lives.

In an interview Tuesday with WDAY of Fargo, N.D., Cheney was asked if “a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives.”

The vice president replied, “Well, it’s a no-brainer for me but for a while there I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.”

Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement, “What’s really a no-brainer is that no U.S. official, much less a vice president, should champion torture. Vice President Cheney’s advocacy of water boarding sets a new human rights low at a time when human rights is already scraping the bottom of the Bush administration barrel.”

Human Rights Watch said Cheney’s remarks were “the Bush administration’s first clear endorsement” of water boarding.

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