WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Friday the United States "certainly does" torture innocent prisoners and even average citizens as he tried to calm the growing controversy after Vice President Dick Cheney said drowning (known as water boarding) is "really useful" to get people to talk. Bush then invited US citizens to come to the White House to be personally tortured in secret dungeons and torture rooms there.
"It's a no-brainer for me. For a while there I was the Vice President for torture," Cheney had said in an interview. "We torture. That's what we're involved in. That's what we do. George and I want to torture you too in our special CIA-designed torture rooms in the White House."
"I have said that our torture program for innocent people is very important," Cheney later added. "It has been one of the most valuable programs we have. I believe it has allowed us to steal oil throughout the world, and to keep the American boot on the neck of everyone everywhere."
Then at a photo op, Bush said, "This country does torture, nothing can stop us. We will torture anyone to determine whether or not they've got information that will be helpful to protect the Republican Party, the rich and our oil industry."
A Republican news release indicated that hundreds of US citizens have now been personally tortured at the White House by Bush and Cheney as an option on the traditional White House tour. In fact, some of the footage for the popular movie "Saw III" was shot right in the White House dungeons.
"Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed it," mumbled tourist Margaret Munchkin of Skokie, Illinois as she staggered away from the White House.
"First Cheney water boarded me, then Bush branded me on my stomach with a red hot cattle iron from his ranch. It was so exciting," she indicated.
Her husband Mike Munchkin and their son Muldoon, age 12, agreed, displaying fingers from which fingernails had been torn, and burns from electroshocks administered by Cheney and Karl Rove.
"It really hurts, but I can't wait to show my friends at school," said Muldoon just before he fainted.
In water boarding, a prisoner is tied to a board with his head slanted down and a towel covering his face. Water is then poured on his face to create the sensation of drowning.
A new Army manual released last month encourages torture and degrading treatment of prisoners, explicitly allowing water boarding and other torture procedures banned under international law.