Rice and Cheney Approved Waterboarding: They Have Some Explaining to Do

April 23, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Both Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney have some explaining to do. A 17-page written narrative detailing the time line from 2002 to 2007, of Bush White House OLC legal opinions condoning torture provided to the CIA, prepared by Attorney General Holder and his staff at the request of Senator John D. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, has Washington buzzing this morning.

The declassified document reveals that Condoleezza Rice, in her role as national security adviser verbally approved the CIA’s request to subject detainee Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a detail she neglected to mention in her previous written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The narrative also reveals former Vice President Dick Cheney attended at least one high-level meeting in 2003, approving the continuation of the harsh interrogation program, including waterboarding.

According to the narrative, Rice, speaking for the Bush administration, verbally delivered approval to CIA Director George Tenet, for CIA interrogators to waterboard Abu Zubaydah, erroneously considered by the Bush administration to be a high-level al-Qaida operative. OLC legal memos recently released by the Obama administration revealed Zubaydah was subsequently waterboarded at least 83 times during a one-month period.

A year later in 2003, Cheney, Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales attended a meeting to discuss the continuation of the harsh interrogations methods, after the CIA director requested a review of the legality of the interrogation methods, including waterboarding. The meeting participants concluded the CIA program was legal and in compliance with administration policy, according to the narrative.

The narrative also reveals Dick Cheney’s legal counsel; David Addington attended a meeting in May 2004, with senior DOJ officials, Alberto Gonzales as Counsel to the President, John B. Bellinger as NSC legal advisor and Scott Muller as CIA General Counsel, (Muller resigned in July 2004). During the May 2004 meeting, the recent CIA review issued by the Inspector General was discussed, which detailed the CIA’s use of waterboarding on three high-level detainees.

A new OLC legal opinion was requested by the CIA incorporating interrogation details from the Inspector General’s review, as well as to answer the question, of whether Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture applied to the enhanced interrogation techniques.

A month after the May 2004 meeting the OLC withdrew its unclassified August 1, 2002 opinion, previously legally sanctioning enhanced interrogation methods under the federal anti-torture statue.

The narrative doesn’t document all executive meetings during the Bush administration regarding enhanced interrogation techniques, but provides a road map outlining the genesis of the OLC legal “torture” memos, offering just a glimpse into the major players involved in legally sanctioning, approving and ordering the enhanced interrogation of detainees, including waterboarding.

The narrative provides documentation, not seen before, of Rice’s role in approving harsh interrogation techniques of detainees. Last fall she testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee admitting only that she attended meetings where CIA interrogations were discussed, but she claimed memory loss regarding the details. When asked to comment yesterday, Rice’s spokesperson declined.

Cheney has long insisted with a straight face that the Bush administration did not commit torture. His now documented attendance and participation in at least one meeting where waterboarding was approved, recognized as torture, puts him squarely in the middle of possible illegal acts in furtherance of war crimes.

What’s striking about the narrative, is how Bush administration lawyers, bound by the rule of law, were so willing to twist the law to fit the scenarios presented by Bush administration officials, to provide legal cover for harsh interrogation treatments, including waterboarding. The rogue’s gallery of OLC attorneys, include Jay Bybee, Steven Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Doug Feith, William Haynes and David Addington.

The OLC “torture” memos authored by OLC lawyers amounted to a legal rubber stamp of the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation methods. They all should be worried about their roles in legally sanctioning torture. The Nuremberg trials prosecuted Nazi lawyers for crimes against humanity for providing legal advice condoning the Holocaust.

This latest narrative combined with several released OLC “torture” memos by both the Bush and Obama administrations, together with this week’s release of an extensive report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, detailing the Military’s depraved use of harsh interrogation techniques, adds to the steady drum beat to investigate Bush administration officials for their actions in condoning torture.

The latest revelations are just the tip of the iceberg. As more legal memos and other executive documents are declassified and released to the public, revealing the direct participation of Bush administration officials at the highest level in sanctioning torture of detainees, Attorney General Holder will have no choice but to conduct an investigation, holding the Bush administration accountable.



9 Responses to “Rice and Cheney Approved Waterboarding: They Have Some Explaining to Do”

  1. Old Man Dotes on April 23rd, 2009 2:07 pm

    As a retired US Army non-commissioned officer, I am deeply ashamed of the unconstitutional and inhumane acts of the Bush Administration. It is my personal opinion that every single member of that Administration, starting with G. W. Bush and working down to anyone appointed by Bush and his cronies, should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nuremburg seems a reasonable venue for the trials; after all, it’s the traditional place to hold trials of war criminals.

    I would also say that it is my opinion that Colin Powell resigned in silent protest of the criminal acts of Bush and Cheney.

  2. Jim on April 23rd, 2009 2:22 pm

    This is nothing more than political posturing by the democrats in Congress. Pelosi, Reid and Rockefeller were all briefed on the interrogation process and all three signed off on it. Obamas quick cave in to pressure from liberals on this issue is the scariest part of this whole thing. This is the mean you elected to defend this country, he can’t he’s to busy campaigning?

    Good Luck

  3. TO Old Man Dotes on April 23rd, 2009 2:28 pm

    To Old Man Dotes, I say we should have put you on the twin towers during 9/11 and see what your family has to say about that you old fart. If your family were on it, i’d bet you wouldn’t sit here adn spout your nonsense like you are doing. You terrorist loving American hating prick. You care so much more for lives of scumbags than the innocent people trying to make it to the 9-5 jobs to feed their family.

  4. Jim Burke on April 23rd, 2009 2:32 pm

    I agree with Old Man Dotes. They should be tried at Nuremburg or Madrid. If they’ve done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to fear.

  5. PROUD AMERICAN CITIZEN! on April 23rd, 2009 4:05 pm

    Send our boys and men, and for that matter women off to war… ask the intelligence agencies to provide the intelligence to these brave men and women to ensure our safety…………then try them for war crimes…now that’s real intelligence!!!! Let’s make sure all of the people all over the world know we’ll just invite them to a tea party for a nice little chat to extract information out of them about all of their wonderful terrorist plans they have in store for us….Maybe all of you that are so gung ho to try someone for war crimes should volunteer yourselves and your families to be targets for the next terrorist attack….war is not pretty….it can only be honorable if both sides fight with honor…I for one will not ask anyone to risk there very lives for me and my families safety and then put conditions on them….

  6. Sue on April 23rd, 2009 6:36 pm

    Great comments from everyone. The Bush administration used the fear we all had after 9/11 as an excuse to torture. There is no question the threat of another attack was and is real, however, America is better than other countries who have no regard for the rule of law and human suffering and torture its prisoners.

    America has always stood as a beacon of hope around the world as a just and humane country that always has protected human rights at home and around the globe. The Bush administration with its torture policies changed all that. Cheney and his cohorts thought they were Jack Bauer living in an episode of “24.”

    We can do better as a nation. We didn’t need to torture to extract information from high-level detainees to keep our country safe. We don’t need to torture to be “proud Americans,” and we don’t need to torture to keep us safe from terrorists.

    President Obama will do just fine thank you, keeping us safe, without subjecting detainees to the near-drowning torture method of waterboarding.

    Keep the comments coming. This issue is extremely important to the future direction of our country.


  7. WASTE YOUR TAXDOLLAR on April 23rd, 2009 8:31 pm


  8. Roger Pedersen on April 24th, 2009 5:18 am

    At last, maybe America is ready to stop deluding themselves.. Torture does not work, no way no how.. Torture is a crime against humanity, doesn’t matter who performs it or for what reason.

    AND TORTURE DOES NOT BRING ABOUT THE TRUTH, only what the torturer wants to be the truth. And anyone who believes torture works are idiots in my view. Idiots who does not deserve to even have a job. If I had my way I would have removed everyone and all from their jobs and tossed them in the looney bin.

    So you can count your lucky angels that I do not have my way.. For now, I am content in revealing how stupid the arguments for the use of torture are.

    To Old man Dotes… Don’t listen to those Bushists and Cheneyists, they do not have a lick of sense to them. And they are abusing the memory of the victims of 9/11 for their own nefarious purposes.

    Spreading fear pure and simple.. They are, in my view, no better than the terrorists.

  9. tom mcguire on May 11th, 2009 9:04 pm

    Once President of Italy recently said: ” It is common knowledge among intelligence communities that CIA and Israel Mossad did the 911 attack”. Cheney was running a air defense exercise involving terrorist aircraft attacking the US at the exact time of 911–this has sure been kept quiet. Who placed the explosives in Bldg 7, and when was it done? Who shorted the airline stocks? Who picked up the CITGO service station video camera film 20 minutes after the Pentagon attack and why has it never been shown? Why have the expert engineers been ignored after proving WTC was demolitioned?
    There are so many unanswered questions, and the media never asking any questions all add up to a US Government conspiracy. It is another uninvestigated hollocaust. Lets get on with why no one in the media is asking any questions now on Obama’s natural born status. Is the entire country corrupted?

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