President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.And from the Associated Press, April 11th:
"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."
As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.
The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.
[See also this related story from ABC on these "Principals" meetings.]
Finally, the Washington Post reports: "I told the country we did that," Bush said. "And I also told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it." Nonetheless, "State Department officials and military lawyers were intentionally excluded from these deliberations, officials said. [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales and his staff had no reservations about the proposed interrogation methods and did not suggest major changes, two officials involved in the deliberations said."
[A] former intelligence official described Cheney and the top national security officials as deeply immersed in developing the CIA's interrogation program during months of discussions over which methods should be used and when.
At times, CIA officers would demonstrate some of the tactics, or at least detail how they worked, to make sure the small group of "principals" fully understood what the al-Qaida detainees would undergo. The principals eventually authorized physical abuse such as slaps and pushes, sleep deprivation, or waterboarding. This technique involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.
COUNTERPOINT: [Note especially 18 U.S.C. Section 2340A (c), with relevant part in bold.]
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2340: Definitions
As used in this chapter—(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality...
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2340A: Torture
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
legal and political questions, check this out.]