How high up the chain did approval of the US's illegal regime of torture and disappearance come from? All the way from the top, it seems. According to today's Washington post, the CIA has finally acknowledged the existence of a directive from Bush authorising torture:
After years of denials, the CIA has formally acknowledged the existence of two classified documents governing aggressive interrogation and detention policies for terrorism suspects, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
But CIA lawyers say the documents -- memos from President Bush and the Justice Department -- are still so sensitive that no portion can be released to the public.
Rumours about these documents have been floating around for some time - but this is the first time the CIA has confirmed they exist. And now that that's out of the way, the ACLU can go to court to acquire them. There is a compelling public interest in determining whether the President of the United States personally conspired to violate US and international law and commit war crimes, and one that far outweighs any concerns about keeping those interrogation techniques secret (particularly given the level of publicity around US torture and the similar directives from other US officials which have already been released). The security classification system does not exist to hide evidence of government wrongdoing – but that is exactly what it is being used for here.
Unfortunately, the passage of the Military Commissions Act means that Bush will not be able to be charged with war crimes or torture in a US court (that was the point - to cover the President's arse from any future administration with a shred of conscience and concern for law). But this information may result in him one day facing charges in other countries or before an international tribunal. And the sooner, the better.