Saturday, April 12, 2008
Guilty as not charged
Just as we all suspected, or should have, top Bush administration officials, including the vice president, were involved in the decision to have the United States violate its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and use "enhanced" interrogation techniques on suspected al-Qaida terrorists. President Bush admitted at least knowing his top advisers discussed and approved the use of the enhanced techniques, which included waterboarding. Waterboarding, which simulates drowning, is generally regarded as torture by governments around the world. "We started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people," Bush said. "Yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved." According to ABC News, which reported the story Wednesday, the Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved using the enhanced techniques on suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Zabaydah, who was captured by the CIA in Pakistan in 2002, suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad and suspected Sept. 11 plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh. ABC News said the administration officials, who included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, decided how much and how often the suspects were subjected to specific techniques, including waterboarding, slapping, pushing and sleep deprivation. The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room, ABC News said, which at one point prompted Ashcroft to say, "Why are we talking about this in the White House. History will not judge this kindly." Ashcroft, who agreed the enhanced techniques were legal, told the group that top officials should not be involved in such decisions, ABC said, according to the Reuters international news service.