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White House memos to CIA approved waterboarding: Washington Post

[JURIST] Two classified memos sent from the Bush administration to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 explicitly sanctioned the use of certain harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding [JURIST news archive], the Washington Post reported [text] Wednesday. The documents were reportedly first requested by then-CIA director George Tenet [BBC profile; SourceWatch profile] in 2003 at a meeting with members of the National Security Council [official website], as Tenet hoped that a written statement of the administration's policy would offer legal protection for CIA subordinates. The Post report's sources, four anonymous Bush administration and intelligence officials, confirmed that a brief memo approving the use of the techniques was sent shortly after the meeting, and that a second memo confirming the policy was sent in 2004 despite growing concerns from the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The memos remain classified. The White House has not commented on the story. AFP has more.

Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] became the first White House official to acknowledge that the Bush administration held talks [Washington Post report] as early as 2002 to consider the legality of waterboarding and other coercive techniques. Reports [JURIST report] in April alleged that top Bush officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, approved the use of controversial interrogation methods on terrorism suspects. In February, the DOJ launched an internal probe [JURIST report] into whether top department officials improperly approved the CIA's use of waterboarding. The DOJ released three memos [materials; JURIST report] in July indicating that certain harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, are lawful and that those who employ them in good faith lack the specific intent required to be charged with torture.

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