Jason Leopold | Consortiumnews. Com, April 15, 2008
President George W. Bush’s comment to ABC News – that he approved discussions that his top aides held about harsh interrogation techniques – adds credence to claims from senior FBI agents in Iraq in 2004 that Bush had signed an Executive Order approving the use of military dogs, sleep deprivation and other tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.
When the American Civil Liberties Union released the FBI e-mail in December 2004 – after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit – the White House emphatically denied that any such presidential Executive Order existed, calling the unnamed FBI official who wrote the e-mail “mistaken.”
President Bush and his representatives also have denied repeatedly that the administration condones “torture,” although senior administration officials have acknowledged subjecting “high-value” terror suspects to aggressive interrogation techniques, including the “waterboarding” – or simulated drowning – of three al-Qaeda detainees.
But the emerging public evidence suggests that Bush’s denials about “torture” amount to a semantic argument, with the administration applying a narrow definition that contradicts widely accepted standards contained in international law, including Geneva and other human rights conventions.
The FBI e-mail – dated May 22, 2004 – followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential Executive Order.
According to the e-mail, Bush’s Executive Order authorized interrogators to use military dogs, “stress positions,” sleep “management,” loud music and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” to extract information from detainees in Iraq.