Torture: Who Was In The Key Meetings?

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This newly declassified history comes courtesy of Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the Senate intelligence committee.   It includes a bit of information about the post 2005 Office of Legal Counsel memoranda and provides independent confirmation for the disclosure of a 2007 memo that authorized certain enhanced techniques. Also in the narrative: some detail about just who approved what techniques and when, including:


In the spring of 2003, the DCI asked for a reaffirmation of the policies and
practices in the interrogation program. In July 2003, according to CIA records, the
NSC Principals met to discuss the interrogation techniques employed in the CIA
program. According to CIA records, the DCI and the CIA's General Counsel
attended a meeting with the Vice President, the National Security Adviser, the
Attorney General, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal
Counsel, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the Counsel to the President, and
the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council to describe the CIA's
interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. According to CIA records, at
the conclusion of that meeting, the Principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was
lawful and reflected administration policy.

(Glad the CIA kept those notes!)  With each passing day, we're learning more about how the executive branch made the decisions and when they changed their minds  There's plenty of developments and meetings left out of the narrative, a Congressional source who knows this admits, but it's the most comprehensive "official" history we have.


In his floor statement, Sen. Rockefeller notes that the National Security Council and the Vice President were well represented at these meetings, but the Secretary of State and the Department of Defense were not.  

"...., strikingly, unless there is a further story in records not yet shown to us, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, were not involved in the decision making process despite the high stakes for U.S. foreign policy and for the treatment of the U.S. military."

"Second, the narrative and the May 30, 2005 opinion demonstrate that the Detainee Treatment Act of December 2005 was substantially undermined by the May 30, 2005 OLC opinion.  The Bush Administration had already construed the main provisions of the Act to authorize its full gamut of coercive techniques."

Rockefeller also calls for the declassification of the 2006 and 2007 OLC memos. 
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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