Intel chair says White House withholding info in interrogation probe

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), accused the White House on Wednesday of withholding documents showing it authorized the CIA to use waterboarding and other tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists.

Rockefeller was reacting to a report in Wednesday’s editions of The Washington Post that two White House memos, in 2003 and 2004, gave the CIA written approval for using specific interrogation techniques on al-Qaida suspects.

“If White House documents exist that set the policy for the use of coercive techniques such as waterboarding, those documents have been kept from the committee,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, called the report old news, and the White House declined to comment.

A former senior Bush administration intelligence official told The Associated Press that the White House “definitely, without a doubt” authorized the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly, was not aware of the memos but said the CIA sought approval for specific methods to protect it from any questions later about their legality.

In March, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have outlawed the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques during CIA interrogations of terror suspects.

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