Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently became the first Bush administration official to admit that high-level discussions of the use of torture had taken place in 2002 and 2003.
According to a written statement provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month and released on Wednesday by committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), officials were told that waterboarding and other "harsh interrogation measures" routinely used in a survival training program for US soldiers would not cause "significant" harm if used on prisoners.
Rice's statement is the first acknowledgment of those meetings by any of the officials involved. Rice did not name the other officials who were present, but reports last spring based on anonymous sources mentioned Vice President Dick Cheney, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called the release of Rice's statement "a soul of the nation story," noting that torture violates the Geneva Conventions and is a criminal act under the US War Crimes Act of 1996. She emphasized that "we just can't get this issue behind us," even with the Bush administration on its way out of office, because "issues like this, like torture, still define who we are as a country. It's still unfinished business."