The CIA failed to give George W. Bush a full briefing of the agency’s detention and interrogation program for the first four years of its existence, according to a report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
From 2002-2006, the CIA used interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and “wallings” (slamming detainees against a wall) to torture prisoners, but the president was not made aware of these methods until 2006, after three dozen detainees had already been subjected to them.
“According to CIA records, no CIA officer, up to and including CIA Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss, briefed the president on the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006,” the report states.
Once he was briefed, Bush reportedly “expressed discomfort” with some of the agency’s interrogation techniques.
The CIA has denied that Bush had no knowledge of the agency’s methods. A CIA statement released in 2013 claimed Bush had admitted in his autobiography to personally approving the interrogation techniques after discussing them with George Tenet.
Former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo remembers it differently: “The one senior US Government national security official during this time — from August 2002 through 2003 — who I did not believe was knowledgeable about the E.I.T.s was President Bush himself,” Rizzo wrote in his 2014 memoir. “He was not present at any of the Principal Committee meetings.”
But former Vice President Dick Cheney insisted on Monday that both he and the president had signed off on the program knowing full well what techniques the agency would employ.
“It was approved, including the techniques, by the National Security Council,” he told The New York Times. “It produced results and saved lives.”
The report concludes that “the C.I.A. repeatedly provided incomplete and inaccurate information” to the White House, keeping top officials such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in the dark until late 2003.
A CIA email noted that the agency had tried to avoid a full briefing for fear that “Powell would blow his stack.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.