Homeland Security

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  Justice Advised Cia In '02 About Legal WaterboardingJuly 24, 2008 22:27 Lawyers for the Bush administration told the CIA in 2002 that its officers could legally use waterboarding and other harsh measures while interrogating al-Qaeda suspects, as long as they acted "in good faith" and did not deliberately seek to inflict severe pain, according to a Justice Department memo made public yesterday.

The memo, apparently intended to assuage CIA concerns that its officers could someday face torture charges, said interrogators needed only to possess an "honest belief" that their actions did not cause severe suffering. And the honest belief did not have to be based on reality.

"Although an honest belief need not be reasonable, such a belief is easier to establish where there is a reasonable basis for it," stated the Aug. 1, 2002, memo signed by Jay S. Bybee, then an assistant attorney general with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

The memo was one of three released by the Justice Department under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The heavily redacted memos offer insight into the administration's legal maneuvering as it sought to justify the CIA's program of aggressively interrogating high-level al-Qaeda operatives held in secret prisons overseas. The program included waterboarding, or simulated drowning, as well as sleep deprivation and other measures intended to weaken resistance and coerce confessions.
  Bush Won'T Give Congress Papers In Cia Leak ProbeJuly 16, 2008 14:06 President George W. Bush, asserting executive privilege, has rejected Congress' request for documents on FBI interviews with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from a probe to find who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

The Bush administration said on Wednesday that turning over such records would violate the president's rights to counsel from his staff.

In a letter to the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Keith Nelson wrote, "The attorney general has requested that the president assert executive privilege with respect to these documents and the president has done so."

The letter was delivered on the same day the committee was scheduled to vote on a possible contempt resolution against Attorney General Michael Mukasey for failing to provide the requested information.

Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, called the executive privilege claim "ludicrous," but postponed committee action against Mukasey, saying lawmakers needed time to review Bush's claim.

In 2003, as the Bush administration was preparing for war with Iraq, media reports surfaced discussing Wilson's work at the CIA. She is married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who at the time accused the Bush administration of tailoring intelligence information to justify the Iraq war.

Following the federal probe into the matter, Cheney aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted on obstruction and perjury charges. Bush subsequently commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence.