In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:
BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.
Bush staunchly defended the program, saying it saved American lives — despite interrogators’ claims to the contrary. He waved away the debate over torture by saying dismissively, “Look, I understand why people can get carried away on this issue.”
Last year, Bush admitted that he was “aware” that his national security team met to discuss KSM’s interrogation, and that he approved of the meeting. His admission today suggests Bush had a far more direct role in developing the specific torture program, which included waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions (all of which have long been considered torture).
What’s more, a former Pentagon intelligence analyst told Vanity Fair that “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence”; another former CIA official, who read all the reports from KSM’s interrogation, said, “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.”