Report: Condoleeza Rice and John Ashcroft Approved of Torture Program

225px-condoleezza_rice_cropped225px-john_ashcroftA 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.

For the full story, click here.

34 thoughts on “Report: Condoleeza Rice and John Ashcroft Approved of Torture Program”

  1. I must address you, SB, Mike S. and Mike A.,

    While you advise holding on, which as a citizen who has not been put in jail or tortured, is easy for me, I must ask you how you can advise this course of action to those being abused right now? The ACLU and other human rights groups have filed suit to give those in Bagram some relief. This has been to no avail. Obama has affirmed in court that he will not allow those prisoners the right to challenge their detention in our courts. There are credible allegations of torture in Gitmo, not in the past, but right now. I urge you to read up on one case that JT posted on, that of Binyam Mohamed (check the Guardian because this is a big story in the UK, although it is ignored here). We have ghost detainees unaccounted for. How does allowing the torture and lack of rights to current detainees fit in with the plan to bring bush to justice? Why should they keep being abused? Is it really fair to ask them to keep being tortured and have their rights denied until the president or the AG finds the “right” time to look into the bushco crimes? As a citizen, I know that I, like everyone else am still being spied on by my govt. This spying is approved by Obama. How does that ruling by Obama fit in with the plan to bring bushco to justice? I could wait on being spied on. Sure I don’t like it. It’s a dangerous thing for the govt. to get away with. But it is a whole other magnitude of difference to be an atty. working on the case of a detainee while being spied on. It is a whole other magnitude of difference to be a helpless detainee with no rights, being tortured. I can’t believe you are willing to trade out things like that so Obama can get the political will to proceed. Paul Krugman pretty much destroys that idea anyway and I think it’s worth reading his column. As to the release of the documents, this is not a largess of Obama, this is a hard won legal victory that has taken years on the part of the ACLU. But my main problem is the failure to recognize bad things are happening to people right now. There is not only no account of the past abuse, there is no help for those currently being harmed. That people who are being harmed should be asked to wait until a politically good time comes along to stop their harm is to me, morally, wrong.

  2. Jill,

    I don’t want President Obama to call for a special prosecutor – that’s not his job. Part of the reason I voted (and volunteered) for President Obama was for him to DE-politicize the Justice Department. The only thing I want to hear from the president is that it is up to the Attorney General to decide how to proceed. Furthermore, since AG Holder has an enormous amount of work ahead of him cleaning up Gonzo’s mess and as A Patriot pointed out, the information is coming out at an amazing rate right now (plus reasons such as politics that I have noted on other threads), I would much rather see no action from the AG for at least a week or two. Just hold on and enjoy the ride!

  3. Mike A.,
    If you live long enough, keep your eyes open and follow politics you begin to realize that all is not what it seems on the surface. This type of maneuvering has been going on for the ten thousand years of human civilization and probably pre-dates that to the small tribal culture. In Watergate the dictum was follow the money, had that really been followed through to the ITT involvement and those donating to CREEP there would have even been a bigger scandal. To me the more sensible solution is to get the bottom guys out of the way to get to the leaders, who were the real perps. The need is to build this up with a leisurely process that brings a majority of the public and the press on board, then bring the hammer down. Many of us here have known that these abuses were taking place for a long time, but the impetus was not there for the Congress to proceed. That impetus has started, facts are forthcoming and a public clamor has begun. We are now approaching the propitious time and I for one believe that justice will be served.

  4. Mike S., in further support of your theory, it has been announced on HuffPost that additional photographs of abuse are to be released in late May in response to an FOIA suit filed back in 2004. It appears that the Obama administration is indeed allowing the evidence to come out in different forms over time in order to achieve a consensus of opinion before any prosecutorial efforts are announced.

  5. We all know Ashcroft was a tool who couldn’t even beat a dead man for a Senate seat. His statements through the years showed him to be an extremist, who was severely unqualified to be AG.
    Rice on the other hand is treated with respect by the MSM and Washington “Village” elders. Why is that so? I am loath to figure it out. She was arguably the least effective Secretary of State in the last 50 years. Did nothing on her watch in State of note. Was the National Security Adviser when 9/11 struck and paid no attention to the specific warnings that were given about the possibility of planes being used to strike buildings. Yet people treat he with respect. Why is that?

  6. “Reportedly Pelosi once said “Where else are they going to go?” when talking about Progressives threatening to vote against her.”

    Here’s the problem with quotes like this, they hang out there and if said enough become seen as facts. Is there and interview on tape where she said this? What was the exact context of the statement. Reportedly is a slippery slope to base an argument on. As in:

    Reportedly George Bush took part in sado-masochistic and homosexual acts led by a Dominatrix in Nevada. She reported this as she was running for the Gubernatorial nomination in that State. As much as I dislike George Bush, I don’t think that is quite enough for me to say that he is into being dominated sado-masochistically to commit homosexual acts.
    While I would defend his right to do so, I wouldn’t base criticism of him on a report from a minor gubernatorial candidate probably seeking publicity.

  7. “I have listened to this argument and do not think it is correct.”

    “Neither Obama nor many in Congress want an investigation of any kind. They are going to be impilicated in an independent investigation.”

    I don’t think you are giving credit to the steady flow of information being released in this past week. How is it getting out there and who is putting it out? If President Obama and AG holder really wanted to suppress investigations these things wouldn’t be dribbling out. I’m not interested in suppositions by Glenn G, or from places like TPM, they have as much knowledge as you and I do and are simply giving their take on the same facts we all have. JT, the ACLU, MoveOn and many others are not really commentators on these issues, they are advocates stating a case and so deserve wider latitude.

    I’ll put my interpretation of the facts up against the commentators every time and most of those you quote are people I read daily and like very much. My interpretation is, once again, that this is being brilliantly stage managed and will result in substantive investigations and trials that will make Watergate and Iran-contra pale in comparison. The future will prove that to be either right or wrong.


  8. Bogus. That is not how the House works.

    The majority chairs every committee and has a majority of members on each and every committee.

    The minority can’t even use House meeting rooms without permission.

    It does not matter, for example, what Boehner is now told. He could not stop any vote on any bill even if he wanted to as minority leader.

    There is no filibuster in the House.

    And the same goes for Pelosi who was in the minority until 2006.

  9. Jill, good post. Has the Red Cross been there and made any reports?

  10. Lee is absolutely right. I blame Pelosi and Reid and rhe cowardly Dems for leading my country down a rat hole as much as I do the Rethuglicans. Reportedly Pelosi once said “Where else are they going to go?” when talking about Progressives threatening to vote against her. This woman enabled the Bush crime family and now must answer for it. Progressive Democrat-Jean

  11. Lee,

    Yes. Once a preexisting cancerous disease corrupting a body—governmental or biological—is *completely* excised, then preventative medicine is the proper and most efficacious prescription.

  12. Pelosi’s effort to distance herself from actual knowledge of torture is kind of pathetic. It seems clear to me that the cowardly Democrats were either entirely misled by the Bushies about what was going on or the cowards, including Pelosi, had to have understood what was going on but were such cowards they raised no objections. Personally, I believe it was the duty of all involved to object to what was clearly illegal torture. The entire situation needs to be investigated from top to bottom and where warranted anyone culpable and anyone who failed in their responsibility to the law and to humanity should be prosecuted regardless of party, position or anything else. This cancer of illegal government activity must be brought to an end and it can only be brought to an end by prosecuting those who broke the law and making a very clear and tough example of them all. Only by doing this will future would-be tyrants be deterred from breaking the law and future whistleblowers encouraged to do the right thing.

  13. I urge people to read this report on Bagram. The ACLU is trying to get information on this:

    “Worse than Gitmo:” ACLU Asks for Documents on Bagram Prison, Where the US Still Holds 600 Prisoners

    The Obama administration argues that the prisoners at Bagram—some who have been there 6 years—do not have habeas corpus rights. That’s not looking backwards. It is current policy.

    By Jeremy Scahill

    As the Obama administration faces mounting pressure to appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate torture and other crimes ordered by senior Bush administration officials and implemented by CIA operatives and contractors, the ACLU is opening up another front in the battle for transparency. But this one is not exclusively aimed at the Bush era. Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to make public records on the US-run prison at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. The group is seeking documents from the Departments of Defense, Justice and State and the CIA.

    As the ACLU states, “the U.S. government is detaining more than 600 individuals at Bagram, including not only Afghan citizens captured in Afghanistan but also an unknown number of foreign nationals captured thousands of miles from Afghanistan and brought to Bagram. Some of these prisoners have been detained for as long as six years without access to counsel, and only recently have been permitted any contact with their families. At least two Bagram prisoners have died while in U.S. custody, and Army investigators concluded that the deaths were homicides.”

    The Obama administration has refused to grant habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Bagram, but a federal judge recently ruled that three prisoners can challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The Obama administration, in continuing a Bush-era policy, is appealing the ruling. According to the ACLU, “The prisoners, who were captured outside of Afghanistan and are not Afghan citizens, have been held there for more than six years without charge or access to counsel:”

    “The U.S. government’s detention of hundreds of prisoners at Bagram has been shrouded in complete secrecy. Bagram houses far more prisoners than Guantánamo, in reportedly worse conditions and with an even less meaningful process for challenging their detention, yet very little information about the Bagram facility or the prisoners held there has been made public,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “Without transparency, we can’t be sure that we’re doing the right thing – or even holding the right people – at Bagram.”

    This is a very important case to monitor, particularly because it is an area where Obama’s administration has allied itself squarely with that of the Bush administration. This is not “looking backwards” at all, it is looking at the present and it aint Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld running this sick, unconstitutional show.

  14. A Patriot,

    I have listened to this argument and do not think it is correct. Remember this is Cheney we’re dealing with. If he thought a prosecution or investigation would shut down the information, he would be screaming for them from the rooftops. His aim is to stop any investigation and he has allies at the top of our govt. who are doing everything they can to prevent this. They are doing this by stalling. Fortunately, there are other people in this govt. who are brave enough to oppose him and they are getting the information out. These people are acting out of their conscience and their courage. They will not stop sending out the information.

    Neither Obama nor many in Congress want an investigation of any kind. They are going to be impilicated in an independent investigation. They will stall forever if they can, so in my opinion, there is no need to worry that there won’t be enough time for information to come out. This is a very corrupt govt. we live under and that corruption still goes all the way to the top.

  15. If AG Holder announced an independent council OR the Senate began an internal inquiry the steady stream of information becoming available to American citizens would dry up and be hidden behind closed doors throughout either investigation. Patience is needed right now so that ALL the information can be allowed to come out. It seems that since about a week ago we have seen new revelations released or leaked daily. I don’t want the flow of evidence to stop. Not yet anyway. There is still, sadly I feel, much more to learn about exactly what was done, when it began, and who else that we haven’t learned about yet may have been involved. IMHO a Senate inquiry is simply an excercise in CYA. Nothing new would be revealed. Holding off, at least for now, is a good idea.

  16. “Indict them all” is right. These actions shock the conscience. This is premediatated torture and murder aided and abetted by Congresspeople who willingly looked the other way.

    Obama needs to quit protecting war criminals. He needs to do two things right away:
    1. direct his AG to appoint an independent council
    2. direct his AG to block the destruction of evidence

    *People in the govt. who have information, keep putting it out. We need you to be courageous and take a stand. What is/was happening is wrong. It needs to stop. The information you provide will be the key to stopping it.

    If Obama will not act AG Holder should act by this afternoon. If he does not act, he should be impeached. If we had a functional govt. Congress would have told Holder, if you don’t appt. a special prosecutor we will commence your impeachment hearing. That would send such a strong message that our govt. does not condone these actions and will not tolerate them. It will tell the executive branch it must follow the law.

  17. Mespo727272,

    Thank you. It ain’t been easy and it ain’t been hard. Interestingly, I learned a great deal about depression and I will say that I am amazed.

    I did not know that you could be depressed and not sleep. Well eventually you do. But it is not peaceful until you allow yourself to be peaceful.

  18. I anxiously await the neo-con camapign to force Notre Dame to pull her degree and eject her from its governing board. Indict them all, stupid democrats included.

    Anon: On a personal note, I was saddened to read about your loss as a perused the other threads this morning. I cannot imagine the heartache you suffered in this tragedy, but I respect you for the courage to persevere.

  19. One can only hold firm in their convictions until the evidence proves to be unreliable or uncredible. It appears that the former administration was utilizing every aspect of all in order to justify what they clearly knew was illegal, unwarranted and immoral.

    It is my firm convictions that in America as well as I am sure other places. We strive to be assured that what we do is legal, warranted and moral. To join all people of all parties especially the number of ranking females. Shows a defined disdain for women in general. They were used as mere whores of the administration. Political Prostitutes in you will.

    They knew Cheney et al that you are hard pressed to beat up on women unless you want the wrath of all. And now Cheney’s daughter is defending her Dad as she should. He was politically and morally opposed to her life style.

    But then again, Money can never buy you Class. What it can do is buy you friends until your money runs out.

    If a G-d exists. They will have a reckoning. If reincarnation exists karma will take its toll.

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