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The United States Waterboarding Team

Posted by msrb on April 23, 2009

sent by a reader

Rice approved torture in 2002

Rice, Ashcroft, Richard Cheney [and by extension GW Bush] and others again approved the CIA techniques in July 2003


The Evil Eyes:
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, shown Jan. 15, 2009. (UPI Photo/Mannie Garcia/Pool). Image may be subject to copyright.

Condoleezza Rice and John Ashcroft, among other U.S. administration staff, approved harsh CIA interrogation methods in 2002, documents reveal.

“Declassified information about the evolution of the Bush White House’s decisions to employ interrogation methods on terrorism suspects that some consider to be torture — such as simulated drowning known as waterboarding — were contained in Senate Intelligence Committee documents released Wednesday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,” UPI said.

Does it look like someone is absent?


Condoleezza Rice meeting with President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales in September 2001.
(By J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press). Image may be subject to copyright.

“Declassified information about the evolution of the Bush White House’s decisions to employ interrogation methods on terrorism suspects that some consider to be torture — such as simulated drowning known as waterboarding — were contained in Senate Intelligence Committee documents released Wednesday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,” UPI said.

“Rice gave a key early green light when, as President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, she met on July 17, 2002, with the CIA’s then-director, George J. Tenet, and ‘advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaida,’ subject to approval by the Justice Department, according to the timeline.” Washington Post reported.

“A year later, in July 2003, the CIA briefed Rice, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Attorney General Ashcroft, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III on the use of waterboarding and other methods, the timeline states. They ‘reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy.’”


Several hundred students gathered on Sproul Plaza at the University of California Berkeley on Wednesday November 14, 2007 to witness a demonstration of Waterboarding. Source: Indybay

Four senior members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), were briefed on the CIA interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, in 2002, U.S. officials said. “Pelosi has confirmed that she was then ‘briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Justice Department had concluded that the techniques were legal.’” Post said

Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were  briefed on the program in September 2003. “Strikingly, unless there is a further story in records not yet shown to us, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense were not involved in the decision-making process, despite the high stakes for U.S. foreign policy and for the treatment of the U.S. military,” Post reported Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) as saying.

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9 Responses to “The United States Waterboarding Team”

  1. msrb said

    Pelosi in public dispute with CIA over interrogation
    Thu May 14, 2009 5:25pm EDT
    By Susan Cornwell and Steve Holland

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday got into a public dispute with the CIA over what she knew about harsh interrogation techniques in 2002, in the latest twist in a Washington political furor.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responding to a CIA report that said she had been briefed on interrogation methods that she now condemns but did not at the time, accused the CIA of not telling the truth at a dramatic Capitol Hill news conference.

    “The CIA was misleading the Congress,” Pelosi said.

    Pelosi’s struggle to retain her credibility is part of a controversy over how far to pursue Bush-era interrogation procedures that threatens to divert Democrats from President Barack Obama’s economic agenda.

    The debate over interrogation methods has become a source of tension as liberals press Obama for the prosecution of Bush officials and Republicans insist the techniques produced intelligence that helped avert other September 11-style attacks.

    The CIA last week contradicted Pelosi, saying she had been told about the use of methods such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, in a September 2002 briefing.

    The spy agency issued a chart saying Pelosi, then the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Porter Goss, then the panel’s chairman, were given “a description of the particular EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) that had been employed.”

    A besieged Pelosi told reporters she had only been told that the Bush administration had legal opinions that concluded the use of these procedures were legal, not that the tactics had been used. “The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed,” she said.

    The CIA said then it had not used them yet when in fact they had already been used, Pelosi said.

    Goss, however, wrote in The Washington Post on April 25 that he and Pelosi and their counterparts in the Senate had been briefed that “the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.”

    “We understood what the CIA was doing,” he said.

    CIA spokesman George Little stuck to the agency’s language. “The language in the chart — ‘a description of the particular EITs that had been employed’ — is true to the language in the agency’s records.”

    ‘NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE’

    Republicans accused Pelosi of not having her story straight. “The speaker has had way too many stories about this issue,” said the top Republican in the House, John Boehner. He said it is “hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress.”

    While the case is trouble for Pelosi, it does not appear to be jeopardizing her status in the House.

    However, the number two House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, distanced himself from Pelosi’s statements, saying he had no reason to believe that the CIA had mislead Congress.

    “I don’t have a belief of that nature. … And I certainly hope that’s not the case. I don’t draw that conclusion,” Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said on the House floor after he was asked by a Republican whether he agreed with the speaker.

    But Hoyer added that focusing on what had been told to lawmakers on interrogations was a distraction from the question of what techniques were used, and whether they were legal.

    The furor is also a distraction from other issues, as Obama tries to focus on fixing the U.S. economy, overhauling its healthcare system and tackling global warming.

    “It makes a story that just keeps going and gets everybody into fuzzy areas of credibility and that’s not where you want to be,” said Norman Ornstein, a political expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

    “I don’t think it sinks her, but it can’t be pleasant.”

    Pelosi has been a vocal proponent of a congressional “truth commission” to investigate the use of harsh questioning methods that Obama banned when he took office.

    White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Wednesday said Obama believes the Senate Intelligence Committee is the proper place for a probe. The panel is conducting a closed-door inquiry.

    Gibbs spoke on the same day Obama announced he had decided to have administration lawyers try to block the court-ordered release of photographs said to show the abuse of detainees.

    (Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)
    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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  4. msrb said

    US ‘waterboarding’ row rekindled

    [Last updated at 20:51 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 21:51 BBC UK]

    Fresh claims have emerged that a key al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded before the Bush government lawyers issued written authorisation to do so.

    A former CIA agent has told the BBC that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded by the CIA in May or June 2002.

    The date was provided by former CIA agent John Kiriakou. The practice was sanctioned in written memos by Bush administration lawyers in August 2002.

    The CIA says waterboarding did not take place before August 2002.

    Officials have refused to tell the BBC when it did occur.

    Legal memos

    Mr Kiriakou led the CIA team that captured Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan on 28 March 2002, and was the first to speak to the badly injured captive before returning to the US.

    There he monitored the internal communications that came in (cable traffic) on Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation at a secret CIA prison from the organisation’s headquarters in Virginia.

    Asked by the BBC’s Panorama programme when the waterboarding phase of the interrogation began, Mr Kiriakou said: “That would have been at the very end of May or the very beginning of June 2002.”

    The key legal advice by Bush administration lawyers that deemed it acceptable was not written until August 2002.

    Mr Kiriakou said he had information that by early summer, 2002, President Bush had given his written approval for the use of waterboarding.

    The BBC could not corroborate Mr Kiriakou’s assertions independently. The date of Abu Zubaydah’s waterboarding remains a closely guarded secret.

    Mr Kiriakou has been criticised in the past for downplaying the extent of the waterboarding and emphasising its efficacy.

    Torture redefined

    Waterboarding had long been treated as torture under American law – and torture is illegal under both American and international law.

    President George W Bush’s administration have steadily maintained that they did not break the law because they received legal advice which determined that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were not torture.

    Those legal memos redefined torture very broadly to mean some extremely painful techniques could be used and still not technically constitute “torture”.

    Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union (Aclu), said the timing is significant for those who believe that members of the Bush administration should face trial for authorising torture.

    “If waterboarding was being used then, there’s no one who would be able to say that they were relying on a legal opinion because there was no legal opinion at that point to rely upon,” Mr Anders said.

    Officials may have been given the legal go-ahead verbally prior to August, but it is not clear how much weight that would have in courts should a decision be taken to prosecute those who authorised or carried out the harsh methods.

    “Simply having a lawyer say that something is okay is not a defence, or is not much of a defence anyway”, said Anders.

    Prosecutions possible

    US President Barack Obama announced in April that he would not seek to use anti-torture laws to prosecute CIA agents who relied in good faith on Bush administration legal opinions issued after the 11 September attacks.

    Mr Obama’s assurance came after the release of memos detailing those legal opinions on the range of techniques the CIA was allowed to use during the Bush administration, including waterboarding.

    In his first week in office, Mr Obama banned the use of waterboarding. Rights groups have criticised the decision not to seek prosecutions.

    Mr Obama has not closed the door on the possibility of prosecuting those who gave the controversial legal advice.

    His administration has described waterboarding as torture. BBC © MMIX

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