US & Canada

President George W Bush 'knew everything' about CIA interrogation

US President George W Bush speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney by phone aboard Air Force One in 2001
Image caption President George W Bush wrote about CIA interrogation techniques in his memoir

Former US President George W Bush was "fully informed" about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president says.

Speaking to Fox News, Dick Cheney said Mr Bush "knew everything he needed to know" about the programme, and the report was "full of crap".

The CIA has defended its use of methods such as waterboarding on terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The Senate report said the agency misled politicians about the programme.

But the former Republican vice-president dismissed this, saying: "The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren't being told - that the president wasn't being told - is a flat-out lie."

In the interview on Thursday, Mr Cheney said the report was "deeply flawed" and a "terrible piece of work", although he admitted he had not read the whole document.

President Bush "knew everything he needed to know, and wanted to know" about CIA interrogation, he said. "He knew the techniques... there was no effort on my part to keep it from him.

"He was fully informed."

Image caption Fomer US Vice President Dick Cheney said the Senate report was "deeply flawed"
Media captionThe story of the report - in numbers

Mr Bush led the charge against the report ahead of its release on Tuesday, defending the CIA on US TV.

"We're fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf," he told CNN on Sunday.

A summary of the larger classified report says that the CIA carried out "brutal" and "ineffective" interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US and misled other officials about what it was doing.

The information the CIA collected using "enhanced interrogation techniques" failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.

But Mr Cheney said the interrogation programme saved lives, and that the agency deserved "credit not condemnation".

"It did in fact produce actionable intelligence that was vital in the success of keeping the country safe from further attacks," he said.

Media captionBBC North America editor Jon Sopel speaks to report author Dianne Feinstein

The UN and human rights groups have called for the prosecution of US officials involved in the 2001-2007 programme.

"As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice," Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said in a statement made from Geneva.

He said there had been a "clear policy orchestrated at a high level".

The chances of prosecuting members of the Bush administration are unlikely, not least because the US justice department has said that it has already pursued two investigations into mistreatment of detainees since 2000 and concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction.

On Wednesday, an unnamed justice department official told the Los Angeles Times prosecutors had read the report and "did not find any new information" to reopen the investigation.


Key findings:

Image caption Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, left, and Abd al-Rashim al-Nashiri, were among those held by the CIA
  • None of 20 cases of counterterrorism "successes" attributed to the techniques led to unique or otherwise unavailable intelligence
  • The CIA misled politicians and public
  • At least 26 of 119 known detainees in custody during the life of the programme were wrongfully held, and many held for months longer than they should have been
  • Methods included sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, often standing or in painful positions
  • Saudi al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end
  • Waterboarding and "rectal hydration" were physically harmful to prisoners, causing convulsions and vomiting

What is 'enhanced interrogation'?

Who knew what when?

Who were the detainees?


Methods of the past?

None of the countries where the prisons were located has been identified in the report, but several countries suspected to have hosted so-called "black sites" reacted strongly to the publication.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is among the world leaders to have condemned how the agency imprisoned and questioned al-Qaeda suspects.

He said the programme "violated all accepted norms of human rights in the world".

And Russia's Foreign Ministry called the report "confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations by the American authorities".

Russia has previously criticised the US for placing sanctions on top Russian officials after accusing them of human rights violations.

US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he hoped that the publication of the report would "help us leave these techniques where they belong - in the past".

Media captionBarack Obama said some of the techniques amounted to torture

He banned harsh interrogation techniques after taking office in 2009, and has acknowledged that some methods amounted to torture.

Some Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee released a minority report, accusing the Senate of having a "flawed analytical methodology", "inadequate objectivity" and "political considerations".

However, influential Republican Senator John McCain argued that torture "rarely yields credible information" and that even in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden the most important lead came from "conventional interrogation methods".


More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites