MCCLATCHY: A newly declassified narrative of the Bush administration’s advice to the CIA on harsh interrogations shows that the small group of Justice Department lawyers who wrote memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques were operating not on their own but with direction from top administration officials, including then-Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. At the same time, the narrative suggests that then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell were largely left out of the decision-making process. The narrative, posted Wednesday on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Web site and released by its former chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., came as Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters that he’d “follow the evidence wherever it takes us” in deciding whether to prosecute any Bush administration officials who authorized harsh techniques that are widely considered torture.
In a statement accompanying the narrative’s release, Rockefeller said the task of declassifying interrogation and detention opinions “is not complete” and urged prompt declassification of other opinions from 2006 and 2007 that he said would show how Bush Justice Department officials interpreted laws governing torture and war crimes. These developments come days after the Obama administration declassified four Justice Department memos from 2002 and 2005 that revealed in detail authorized interrogation methods, such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, sleep deprivation and putting detainees in containers with insects. The drafting of the narrative began last summer, at the prompting of Rockefeller. The Senate Intelligence Committee staff drafted the document, with heavy input from the Bush administration, in a multi-department effort largely coordinated through the Director of National Intelligence’s office. Bush’s National Security Council, however, refused to declassify it. MORE
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