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Documents reveal CIA briefed lawmakers on enhanced interrogation techniques

[JURIST] The US Central Intelligence Agency [official website] (CIA) [official website] briefed lawmakers [press release] between 2001 and 2007 on the specifics of enhanced interrogation techniques, according to declassified documents [text, PDF] made public by Judicial Watch [advocacy website] on Tuesday. The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a court order, indicate that at least 68 members of congress were briefed on the use of controversial techniques such as waterboarding [JURIST news archive] and include the dates on which these briefings took place. Some documents list the members of congress in attendance and the specific subjects discussed. The heavily redacted documents, marked "Top Secret," show that the CIA began the program after the 2002 capture of al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah, but that they did not use the enhanced interrogation techniques until after receiving legal advice from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] in August 2002. Further documents are expected to be released.

Earlier this week, the DOJ overruled [JURIST report] the findings of a report [text, PDF] concluding that two Bush administration lawyers committed professional misconduct when they wrote memos [JURIST news archive] authorizing the use of certain interrogation techniques that critics have called torture. Instead, the DOJ said that John Yoo [academic profile; JURIST news archive], and Jay Bybee [official profile; JURIST news archive] were only guilty of "poor judgment" in writing the memos. In October, the CIA released letters and memoranda [JURIST report] detailing overseas interrogations that included sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, and physical abuse. The documents, which analyzed the legality of "enhanced interrogation" procedures, were released pursuant to a court order resulting from ACLU litigation. In July, a former CIA counter-terrorism agent reported that waterboarding techniques were used prior to the issuance of legal memos authorizing the practice [JURIST reports]. In January 2009, President Barack Obama expressly banned [JURIST report] the use of torture in interrogations.

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