ABC News reported tonight that President Bush’s most senior and trusted advisers met in “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House” beginning in 2002 to approve the use of “combined” interrogation techniques (the joint use of harsh interrogation techniques). Those tactics included whether detainees “would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.”
Members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft — approved the use of these techniques. “Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.” According to ABC’s report, Ashcroft indicated he was troubled by the meetings:
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
Watch ABC’s report:
Bush’s former Secretary of Homeland Security — Tom Ridge — has said there is “no doubt” that waterboarding is torture.
Marc Ambinder writes, “[I]t remains one of those hidden secrets in Washington that a Democratic Justice Department is going to be very interested in figuring out whether there’s a case to be made that senior Bush Administration officials were guilty of war crimes.”