ABC reports that torture was choreographed from the White House in “principals” meetings that included then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft. These principals:
signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
While Aschcroft reportedly approved of the use the techniques authorized by the group, his take on the consequences of his actions seems prescient:
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”