Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.
The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved. . . .
The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The administration of US President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to waterboard Al-Qaeda suspects according to two secret memos issued in 2003 and 2004, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general said unequivocally Thursday that waterboarding is torture . . .
Early on he was asked whether waterboarding, a technique that makes a prisoner believe he is in danger of drowning, constitutes torture and is illegal.
"If you look at the history of the use of that technique, " Holder replied, "we prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. . . . Waterboarding is torture."