For the life of me I can’t understand why this isn’t front page news everywhere. Two days ago I wrote a piece about how Dick Cheney, Condaleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and other key White House Administration officials were directly responsible for crafting the “enhanced information gathering techniques” approved for CIA use (techniques that most of us in the real world call torture). At no point was it suggested by the ABC sources that Bush himself knew about these meetings. I suspected perhaps Bush was kept in the dark to protect him from being held accountable for war crimes somewhere down the road.
Now it turns out that Bush actually was aware of, and approved these meetings! In an interview with ABC News, Bush was asked if he had been kept out of the loop on the Principal’s Committee meetings, and he basically said “of course I was in the loop! Don’t tell me I was uninformed, I’m the Commander In Chief for cryin’ out loud. I know everything that goes on around here. And oh yeah, I thought the meetings were a great idea!”
What a bonehead. I hope his pride and ego just set himself up for a nice trial at the Hague.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, now fully ashamed of his role in sending over 4000 American soldiers and countless Iraqis to their deaths, said he “didn’t have sufficient memory recall” about the meetings and that he had participated in “many meetings on how to deal with detainees.” Not too ashamed to cover his own ass,apparently. It’s amazing how much people forget when they do the wrong thing.
It also seems from the new ABC News article that the Principal’s Committee was getting annoyed at all the CIA inquiries as to whether or not these interrogations were legal. The CIA agents in the field basically kept asking, “are you absolutely sure this is legal?” And time and time again, the report would come back from the Principal’s Committee, “yes it is, go ahead with your torture and rest assured that it is signed and sealed by all the top administration officials here at the White House.”
Apparently, it was this constant back-and-forth that got John Ashcroft a little worried. He’d rather have signed off on it, and then not known any more about it after the fact. Here’s the section from the article:
“It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time,” said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. “They’d say, ‘We’ve got so and so. This is the plan.'”Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved. “These discussions weren’t adding value,” a source said. “Once you make a policy decision to go beyond what you used to do and conclude it’s legal, [you should] just tell them to implement it.”
Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
So either Ashcroft was right, and knew they’d be discovered, or his conscience was getting the better of him and he just didn’t want to know the specific, gory details of the war crimes that were being carried out under the approval of the Committee.
Now, my real question is, why is this not relayed from all major news outlets? It’s been barely a blip on the radar. The President of the United States knew about policy meetings by senior administration officials on legalizing torture as a CIA interrogation technique? In what world is that not front page news?