Top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique, as early as 2002, a Senate intelligence report shows.
On July 17, 2002, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who later became secretary of state, said the CIA could proceed with “alternative interrogation methods,” including waterboarding, when questioning suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.
The decision was contingent on the Justice Department’s determining the method’s legality. A week later, Attorney General John Ashcroft had determined the “proposed interrogation techniques were lawful,” the report said. […]
In a meeting that included Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Ashcroft, Rice and their legal counsels, “the principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy,” the report said.