Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Detainees' Accounts Confirm White House Authorized Torture

A leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross on treatment of detainees held at CIA "black sites" describes a variety of interrogation techniques which the report says "constituted torture." UC-Berkeley journalism professor Mark Danner, who has published excerpts from the report in a lengthy article for the New York Review of Books, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he regards the detainees' accounts as completely credible.

Danner pointed out that the fourteen prisoners interviewed by the Red Cross had been "kept rigorously isolated throughout their detention" and "had no chance to compare their stories," and yet their accounts were "strikingly similar in almost every minute detail."

Maddow commented that the similarity of the stories also implies that "this was a very organized situation. This is not rogue CIA officers taking the gloves off and deciding what to do in the moment. "

"What do we know about the level of coordination between officials at these black sites and officials in Washington?" she asked.

Danner replied that "the interrogators were in constant touch with their superiors at CIA headquarters" and were getting authorization for every interrogation technique. "The chain of decision-making ... is very well-established," he emphasized. "These weren't rogue officers."

"The director of Central Intelligence at the time [in 2002] ... was George Tenet, who was traveling across the river every day to principals' meetings at the White House," Danner continued.

"The principals' committee includes the National Security Adviser, then Condoleezza Rice; the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld; Secretary of State Colin Powell; the then-Attorney General, John Ashcroft," Danner noted, "all of whom were briefed on this day by day -- not least because George Tenet apparently was worried that he would get stuck with this and he wanted to be sure that he had explicit confirmation that these procedures could go forward."

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