Daily Mail Reports – Dick Cheney And Condoleezza Rice ‘Authorised Waterboarding Torture Of Al Qaeda Prisoners
April 11, 2008 Leave a comment
The story is as follows.
The White House was directly implicated for the first time last night in the decision to torture Al Qaeda prisoners.
Sources say that Vice President Dick Cheney and a handful of other top politicians met in secret and agreed to the mistreatment of prisoners, according to ABC TV News and the Associated Press.
As part of the decision-making process, they were given demonstrations of the techniques used.
And as a direct result, the CIA was given the go-ahead to punch suspected terrorists, deprive them of sleep, and practise waterboarding – simulated drowning.
According to the sources, Mr Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Attorney General John Ashcroft met in the White House following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
They agreed to authorise what they call “enhanced interrogation techniques” as the Bush administration has defined “torture” only as actions which are designed to cause serious injury or death.
However, experts have said that waterboarding is so horrific that even the most hardened terrorists have not been able to stand it for more than a minute without begging to talk.
While there have long been suspicions that the White House was involved in the decision, the actions have until now been blamed on the CIA and unnamed officials at the Pentagon.
Voters in the US has been so disgusted at the use of torture that there will now be great pressure to prosecute the White House leadership – especially Mr Cheney, who is generally seen as the most hardline of the alleged offenders.
President George Bush does not seem to have been present at the meetings and great precautions appear to have been taken to keep him out of the decision-making process.
But there was speculation last night that Mr Cheney – who is very close to the president – would almost certainly have told him in secret. It is claimed that the decision could not have been made without his implicit consent.
According to ABC there were literally dozens of White House meetings to discuss the treatment of suspected terrorists.
According to the sources, Mr Ashcroft – the nation’s chief legal officer at the time – ruled that the interrogation techniques were legal. However, he said he was worried by the White House meetings to discuss them.
He argued that senior presidential advisers should not be involved in the grim details.
At one meeting he apparently said: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
Mr Bush has said repeatedly that the United States does not condone the use of torture.
However, the techniques used to extract information from prisoners are undeniably controversial.
Waterboarding was pioneered in the Dutch East Indies in the 16th century. Prisoners are strapped to a board and turned upside down as water is streamed over a cloth wrapped around or inserted into their mouths.
The effect is akin to gagging or choking, and the process rapidly induces the most extreme panic in those subjected to it.
Supporters of the technique say it does no long-term damage to the human body; opponents claim it damages the lungs and brain while wrists and ankles can fracture as the victim struggles to break free.
CIA sources also claim that the practice has saved lives because vital information about terror plots has been discovered.
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou claims waterboarding has been used on three Al Qaeda suspects including Abu Zubaida, accused of training jihadist terrorists, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind 9/11.
Although Mr Kiriakou left the agency three years ago, and relies on hearsay from his former colleagues, he claims that both men “broke” in a few minutes – far longer than the 14 seconds CIA men averaged when they researched the technique by using it on themselves.
A former intelligence official said that those who attended the dozens of White House meetings agreed that “there’d need to be a legal opinion on the legality of these tactics” before using them on Al Qaeda detainees.
He described Mr Cheney and the top national security officials as deeply immersed in developing the CIA’s interrogation programme during months of discussions.
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 detainees would undergo.
The White House meetings were also attended by George Tenet, then the director of the CIA.
Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy severely criticised what he described as “yet another astonishing disclosure about the Bush administration and its use of torture”.
“Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?” he said.
“Long after President Bush has left office, our country will continue to pay the price for his administration’s renegade repudiation of the rule of law and fundamental human rights.”
The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to investigate.
“With each new revelation, it is beginning to look like the torture operation was managed and directed out of the White House,” ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said. “This is what we suspected all along.”
The White House and all of those allegedly involved refused to comment last night.