Apologists for the torture program authorized by the Bush-Cheney regime, that was carried out in Guantanamo and at US prison sites around the world as well as in the various ‘black sites’, have argued that these practices were perfectly lawful, going directly in the face of accepted knowledge that such acts were indeed torture.
Now Dan Froomkin at The Intercept reveals that the CIA operatives who were actually doing the torturing were worried that they may later be made the fall guys for committing acts that were illegal. What worried them was the fact that the Bush administration’s public protestations that they were not committing torture was a sign that they may later disavow the actions done by the torturers and claim that they were unaware of what was going on and that a ‘few bad apples’ (who seem to be everywhere these days) went against policy.
The Bush administration was so adamant in its public statements against torture that CIA officials repeatedly sought reassurances that the White House officials who had given them permission to torture in the first place hadn’t changed their minds.
In a July 29, 2003, White House meeting that included Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet went so far as to ask the White House “to cease stating that US Government practices were ‘humane.’” He was assured they would.
The documents also illustrate how CIA officials, just like journalists and members of the public, had to decide whether to take the White House’s disavowals of torture at face value. Apparently the CIA, like many others, couldn’t believe the White House was flat-out lying.
According to another memo, at a previous White House meeting in January 2003, Muller had “pointed out … that there was an arguable inconsistency between what the CIA was authorized to do and what at least some in the international community might expect in light of the Administration’s public statements.” The memo says that “[e]veryone in the room” — including Rice, Cheney (by video conference), Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “evinced understanding of the issue. CIA’s past and ongoing use of enhanced techniques was reaffirmed and in no way drawn into question.”
These people are such cynical liars. Normally what they did would be described as unbelievable except for the fact that we know that there is no level that is so low that they will not be willing to sink to it in order to get their way.