Bush administration endorsed CIA’’s interrogation tactics against Al Qaeda suspects

October 15th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct.15 (ANI): The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’’s use of interrogation techniques such as water-boarding against al-Qaeda suspects.
The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents.
Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’’s interrogation methods, according to the Washington Post, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing. The memos were the first — and, for years, the only — tangible expressions of the administration’’s consent for the CIA’’s use of harsh measures to extract information from captured al-Qaeda leaders, the sources said.
Tenet first pressed the White House for written approval in June 2003, during a meeting with members of the National Security Council, including Rice, the officials said. Days later, he got what he wanted: a brief memo conveying the administration’’s approval for the CIA’’s interrogation methods, the officials said.
Administration officials confirmed the existence of the memos, but neither they nor former intelligence officers would describe their contents in detail because they remain classified.
The sources all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss the events.
The second request from Tenet, in June 2004, reflected growing worries among agency officials who had just witnessed the public outcry over the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Officials who held senior posts at the time also spoke of deteriorating relations between the CIA and the White House over the war in Iraq — a rift that prompted some to believe that the agency needed even more explicit proof of the administration’’s support.
Several of the key meetings have been previously described in news articles and books, but Rice last month became the first Cabinet-level official to publicly confirm the White House’’s awareness of the program in its earliest phases.
In written responses to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rice said Tenet’’s description of the agency’’s interrogation methods prompted her to investigate further to see whether the program violated U.S. laws or international treaties, according to her written responses, dated September 12 and released late last month.
Current and former intelligence officials familiar with the briefings described Tenet as supportive of enhanced interrogation techniques, which the officials said were developed by CIA officers after the agency’’s first high-level captive, al-Qaeda operative Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, refused to cooperate with interrogators. (ANI)

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