Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) of the Senate Intelligence committee has just released a declassified narrative (pdf) of the OLC’s development of its opinions on torture.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder has already picked out a key excerpt, that sheds some light on just who in the Bush administration helped devise and approve the torture policies:
In the spring of 2003, the DCI asked for a reaffirmation of the policies and practices in the interrogation program. In July 2003, according to CIA records, the NSC Principals met to discuss the interrogation techniques employed in the CIA program. According to CIA records, the DCI and the CIA’s General Counsel attended a meeting with the Vice President, the National Security Adviser, the Attorney General, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the Counsel to the President, and the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council to describe the CIA’s interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. According to CIA records, at the conclusion of that meeting, the Principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy.
So that looks to us like Tenet, Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, and Miers, among others.
In a statement, Rockefeller explained the “genesis of the attached narrative”
Last year, I sought declassification of the August 1, 2002 OLC opinion, along with a short contextual narrative to accompany it. While declassification of that opinion was resisted, we engaged instead in a joint effort with Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to declassify a broader narrative surrounding all of the OLC’s opinions on these matters.
The objective was to produce a text that describes the key elements of the opinions and sets forth facts that provide a context for those opinions, within the boundaries of what the DOJ and the Intelligence Community would recommend in 2008 for declassification.
By late 2008, the DOJ, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all had approved the public release of this narrative, but the Bush Administration National Security Council (NSC) held it and would not agree to its declassification.
I renewed the declassification effort as soon as Attorney General Eric Holder took office in early February 2009, and I am pleased to have received the support again of the DOJ, DNI and CIA, and now also of the NSC, for its release as a contextual description of the OLC memos.
We’ll have more on this as we dig into this…