CIA Proposed Waterboarding Before OK

The Senate investigation was conducted for 18 months but was under Pentagon security review since November 2008. Its findings were drawn from more than 70 interviews and 200,000 pages of classified and unclassified documents.

"It is now widely known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape ('SERE') training -- a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations -- by authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations," Levin said in his statement.

"Those decisions conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody," he said. "They were also an affront to the values articulated by Gen. [David] Petraeus."

According to the report, Rumsfeld authorized 15 of the interrogation techniques -- such as stress positions, removal of clothing, use of phobias (such as fear of dogs), and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli -- requested by commanders at Guantanamo Bay.

It also goes into detail about how such methods were approved in military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the question remains as to what steps the Department of Justice can, and will take. The bar for prosecution is quite high. A prosecutor would have to show that the lawyers knew the activity was torture and were finding legal ways around it, and that they were giving legal advice to make illegal actions legal.

Levin said attention must now be turned to questions of accountability.

"I have recommended to Attorney General [Eric] Holder that he select a distinguished individual or individuals -- either inside or outside the Justice Department, such as retired federal judges -- to look at the volumes of evidence relating to treatment of detainees, including evidence in the Senate Armed Services Committee's report, and to recommend what steps, if any, should be taken to establish accountability of high-level officials -- including lawyers," Levin said.

White House's Stance

Obama himself initially said no officials should be charged, but then shifted his language Tuesday, saying that the door is open for the prosecution of Bush-era officials.

However, the White House made it clear that those CIA officers who were told by the Bush administration that these harsh interrogations were legal should not be charged.

"For those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it's appropriate for them to be prosecuted," he said Tuesday following a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah.

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that," he said. "I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there."

Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president is going to leave the handling of the prosecution issue to the lawmakers and Justice Department.

"I think that the lawyers that are involved are plenty capable of determining whether any law has been broken," he said. "I want to stress that that determination is not going to be made by the president, or the vice president, or anybody that works in the White House, because that's why many, many, many, many moons ago we created a Department of Justice."

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