April 10, 2008

Powell and torture

I was surprised not to see more discussion today of ABC's revelation that abusive interrogation methods were approved in extensive discussions by the most senior Bush administration officials, often meeting in the White House. What I found most interesting was the presence of Colin Powell at these talks, in which "some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic."

Up until now, I think most people have assumed that Colin Powell was wholly on the right side of the torture debate. We know that in 2002 he argued that the Geneva Conventions should be applied to prisoners captured in Afghanistan. After retiring, he supported the McCain amendment to outlaw torture in 2005, and in 2006 opposed the Military Commissions Act that denied habeus corpus to Guantanamo detainees.

But according to the ABC piece, "all the Principals present approved" of the techniques under discussion, which included sleep deprivation and water boarding.