A Senate Intelligence Report shows that Condoleeza Rice, then national security adviser, approved of the torture program as early as 2002. One week later, Attorney General John Ashcroft signed off the the legality of the torture by finding that the “proposed interrogation techniques were lawful.” It was also revealed that torture was used on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the first person charged in the United States in the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.
In a critical meeting, Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Ashcroft, Rice and their legal counsels, sat down and planned the torture program. The report notes that “the principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy.”
The Bush Administration was fully aware that criminal charges might be brought. CIA memos show both an effort to establish a defense to such charges and CIA officials later destroyed evidence that could be used against them. Now Judge Jay Bybee wrote a memo that read like a criminal defense attorney’s guide on how to allow a criminal charge by denying intent to cause pain.
The Bush Administration was clever enough to pull into Democratic leaders like Pelosi and others to give them knowledge of their intentions. It worked perfectly. Democratic leaders later would work to block any investigation into the torture program or impeachment proceedings. Pelosi is now trying to draw a line between being briefed on the intent to torture as opposed to being informed of an actual act of torture.
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