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Document a Day: Looking for Cover

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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June 18, 2010

As protests over prisoner abuse mounted, top Bush administration officials produced new rounds of self-serving documents and legal opinions aimed both at preserving the torture program and protecting themselves from possible prosecution.

In this heavily redacted June 4, 2004, memorandum from CIA Director George Tenet to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, submitted the day after President George Bush announced Tenet’s resignation, Tenet writes that the Justice Department authorized the CIA to use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) starting in September 2002; that EITs were used only on “the most hardcore, senior terrorist figures,” and that Congress had been fully briefed on the torture. The first two statements are blatantly untrue: the White House-orchestrated, Justice Department-approved torture of Abu Zubaydah occurred earlier in 2002; and the approximately 100 detainees who spent time at secret CIA blacksites included many who were far from “senior terrorist figures.” Here is an account by one who was held for a time in the CIA’s “dark prison” in Afghanistan and who was eventually released without charge from Guantánamo. The extent to which Congress was briefed on the Bush administration’s torture program remains hotly contested.


To read more about and see documentary evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program, go to

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