Global Politics

White House on interrogations

(What do these memos say?) There's a CIA term called top cover and this is what these memos are about. The CIA in 2003 and 2004 hadn't received any confirmation from the White House that their interrogation methods were supported. They became nervous about it and pressed the administration for some cover. (Where did this leave the White House?) It put the White House's necks on the line. The CIA pressed the White House as something was necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks, but there's also a sense that that the White House had some distance from these decisions�and these memos show that's untrue. (How overtly do these memos talk about the major players�Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld?) We haven't been able to actually look at the memos because they're classified, but we've talked to administration and CIA officials who know what they say. They say all the controversial interrogation methods�sleep deprivation, waterboarding�are all in accordance with the policy of the White House at the time. (Have you any sense of the internal debates on this topic at the White House?) Some of that has been coming out from other sources, and Condoleezza Rice has written of her view and she says she was concerned, was unsure that these techniques sounded legal and appropriate and inquired with the Justice Department of that. Apparently she was satisfied with the answers she got and ultimately she signed off on the memos. (Will these memos make another appearance later down the road?) I think they will because the fact they exist gives Congressional investigators a new target and I think they will be subpoenaed.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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