Just two weeks ago, as former US President George W. Bush was preparing to make his first visit to Europe since the publication, last November, of his biography Decision Points, the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, with support from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), reminded the former President that he was a torturer — who, in addition, had openly bragged in his book that he had authorized the torture of “high-value detainees” in the “War on Terror” — and that, as a result, they would be filing a criminal complaint (an “indictment for torture”) in Switzerland, prior to the former President’s arrival for a meeting on February 12. According to the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture (to which both the US and Switzerland are signatories), this might well have led to his arrest.
As I explained in a recent article, George W. Bush, War Criminal, Is Not Welcome in Europe, Bush subsequently cancelled his visit. However, as Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutonal Rights explained in the Huffington Post:
Swiss law requires the presence of an alleged torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be open. Because Bush canceled, the complaints could not be filed as the basis for legal jurisdiction no longer existed. However, the fact that Bush authorized torture remains … In the long run, ducking a charge of torture is not as easy as ducking a shoe thrown at a press conference.
In my article, I stated that “the fact that the torturer-in-chief has been made unwelcome in Europe — and, in theory, anywhere outside the US – is heartening news indeed,” and this remains the case. In the hope of keeping the story alive — and providing the Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment in an accessible form, I’ve divided the original PDF into two HTML documents, and am cross-posting the first part below. The second part will follow soon. Please not that CCR will amend the indictment as new information comes to light (as it undoubtedly will, given how much of the US torture story is still hidden), and please also note that the original contains detailed footnotes, which I have not attempted to replicate here, where I have, instead, inserted a number of important hyperlinks.
PRELIMINARY “INDICTMENT FOR TORTURE”: GEORGE W. BUSH
BROUGHT PURSUANT TO THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE*
* The present document is a modified version of an individual criminal complaint prepared for submission against George W. BUSH in anticipation of his visit to Geneva, Switzerland on 12 February 2011. The individual criminal complaint brought on behalf of an individual plaintiff was not filed, as planned, on 7 February 2011 because of the announcement, on the eve of the filing, that BUSH cancelled his trip. Factual details regarding that visit, as a basis for establishing BUSH’s presence in Switzerland and the inclusion of analysis of Swiss law is reflective of the origins of this document. This document is not intended to serve as a comprehensive presentation of all evidence against BUSH for torture; rather, it presents the fundamental aspects of the case against him, and a preliminary legal analysis of liability for torture, and a response to certain anticipated defenses. This document will be updated and modified as developments warrant.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. George W. BUSH
1. George W. BUSH was born on 6 July 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. From 20 January 2001- 20 January 2009, BUSH served as president of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. Pursuant to Article II of the United States Constitution, executive power was vested in BUSH, as president of the United States. Upon assuming office, BUSH took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of the United States.
2. In his capacity as president of the United States of America and Commander in Chief, BUSH had authority over the agencies of the United States government involved in the torture program, including but not limited to, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State (DOS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well as over the White House and Office of the Vice President.
3. BUSH chaired the National Security Council (NSC), which advises and assists the president on national security and foreign policies, and serves as the president’s principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.
4. It has been publicly and widely reported that BUSH will be present in Geneva to take part as the guest of honor in a charity evening organized by the Keren Hayessod foundation, set to take place at the Hôtel President Wilson. His presence is announced for Saturday, 12 February 2011.
B. Overview of Detention Policies and Torture Program
5. On 14 September 2001, BUSH issued the “Declaration of National Emergency by reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks,” following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
6. On 17 September 2001, BUSH issued a 12-page directive (known as a “memorandum of notification”) that went to the Director of the CIA and members of the National Security Council, in which BUSH authorized the CIA to capture suspected terrorists and members of Al-Qaeda, and to create detention facilities outside the United States where suspects can be held and interrogated. BUSH‘s directive marked the official launching of the CIA program by vesting the agency with unprecedented power. The document was “a means of granting the CIA important new competences relating to its covert actions: new choices it could make and new ways it could respond if confronted with Al-Qaeda targets in the field.”
7. According to Swiss Senator Dick Marty‘s 2007 Report to the Council of Europe [PDF], BUSH had been personally involved in the conception, discussion, and formulation of this new strategy. The 17 September 2001 directive, referred to by Marty as a “Presidential Finding,” is said to have “create[d] paramilitary teams to hunt, capture, detain, or kill designated terrorists almost anywhere in the world.” Marty‘s Report shed further light on what the directive was intended to achieve:
Our team has spoken with several American officials who have seen the text of the Presidential Finding and participated in the operations that put it into action. Two particularly striking observations have emerged from these discussions. First, by putting “a lot of stock in Special Activities” the Finding “redefined the role of the Agency,” even in the eyes of some of its own, more conservative senior officials. Second, the “really broad, not specific” scope of the covert actions authorised in the Finding meant that the CIA was instantly granted enough room for manoeuvre to design a secret detentions programme overseas.
8. The International Committee of the Red Cross (“ICRC”) was refused access to detainees held in the CIA program. As revealed through a 2007 ICRC report [PDF], the ICRC made repeated requests to the United States to grant it access to the detainees generally, including specific detainees whom the ICRC believed to be, and were in fact, held by the CIA in secret detention sites outside of the United States.
9. On 7 October 2001, BUSH announced that, on his orders, “the United States military has begun strikes against Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.”
10. On 13 November 2001, BUSH authorized the detention of alleged terrorists and subsequent trial by military commissions, which he ordered would not be subject to the principles of law and rules of evidence applicable to trials held in U.S. federal courts. In this order, BUSH vested himself with the power to detain and try by military commission a broad category of persons believed to be, or have been, linked to the acts of international terrorism. In this order, BUSH further vested his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, with certain powers related to the detention of such persons and the establishment of military commissions. BUSH emphasized that tasking his subordinate, Rumsfeld, with these responsibilities related to detention policies “shall not be construed to limit the authority of the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces [...].” Finally, through this order, BUSH purported to strip detainees of the power to seek a remedy not only in U.S. federal courts but also in “any court of any foreign nation, or any international tribunal.”
11. By late 2001, BUSH was planning for the detention of individuals at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (Guantánamo) as evidenced by memoranda [PDF] addressing the question of whether the U.S. federal courts would have jurisdiction of individuals detained in Guantánamo — a prospect which BUSH sought to foreclose through his 13 November 2001 Order.
12. On 11 January 2002, the first detainees arrived in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
13. On 18 January 2002, BUSH decided that the Third Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda or members of the Taliban, and that they would not receive the protections afforded to prisoners of war. This decision was taken upon consideration of advice [PDF] from John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, both of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”), and the additional oral advice of his Chief White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales [PDF].
14. On 19 January 2002, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld transmitted BUSH‘s determination regarding the status of the Taliban and al Qaeda to combatant commanders, along with the order that the commanders should treat such individuals in a manner “consistent” with the “principles” of the Geneva Conventions only “to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity” [PDF]. The combatant commanders were ordered to transmit the content of this memo to the subordinate commanders, including commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 160 responsible for Guantánamo.
15. On 25 January 2002, the ICRC made its first visit to the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
16. On 27 January 2002, BUSH‘s Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, visited the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo.
17. On 7 February 2002, pursuant to his “authority as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive of the United States,” BUSH issued a memorandum stating that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the conflict with Al-Qaeda, and that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to either Al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees [PDF]. BUSH called only for detainees to be treated humanely and “to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with principles of Geneva,” as a matter of policy — not law. In so doing, BUSH rejected Secretary of State Colin Powell‘s calls to reconsider and reverse his 18 January 2002 determination regarding the application of the Geneva Conventions, and disregarded the advice of the Legal Advisor to the State Department that the non-application of the Geneva Conventions to the conflict in Afghanistan was inconsistent with plain language of the Geneva Conventions and unvaried practice of the United States in the fifty years since becoming a party to the Conventions [PDF].
18. In March 2002, the first “high value detainee” Abu Zubaydah was detained and interrogated by the CIA. His detention “accelerated” the development of the CIA interrogation program [PDF]. In his memoir DECISION POINTS, BUSH explained that the decision was taken to transfer Abu Zubaydah to CIA custody and to “move him to a secure location in another country where the Agency would have total control over his environment.”
19. Through, among other means, discussions among members of the NSC, which BUSH chaired, BUSH was fully briefed on, and approved as a matter of policy, the indefinite detention of individuals held by the U.S. government, and specifically, the CIA.
20. The CIA interrogation program sanctioned by BUSH included interrogation techniques that were directly inspired by the “Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE)” training program, in which U.S. military members were exposed to, and taught how to resist, interrogation techniques used by enemy forces that did not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. As detailed in the CIA IG Report, the U.S. employed these techniques, which included waterboarding; confining detainees in a dark box for up to 18 hours at a time and possibly with an insect placed in the confinement box; up to 11 days of sleep deprivation; facial hold or facial slap; “walling,” which consists of pulling a detainee forward and then pushing him back quickly against “a flexible false wall so that his shoulder blades hit the wall;” and use of stress positions, on CIA detainees.
21. As described by the ICRC, the CIA detention program “included transfers of detainees to multiple locations, maintenance of the detainees in continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention throughout the entire period of their undisclosed detention, and the infliction of further ill-treatment through the use of various methods either individually or in combination, in addition to the deprivation of other basic material requirements.” The UN Joint Study on secret detentions [PDF, also see here and here] noted that detainees had been held in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland and Romania, among other locations. The ICRC described the fourteen individuals previously held as part of the CIA detention program, whom BUSH transfered to detention at Guantánamo, and which BUSH announced in September 2006, as “missing persons.”
22. The ICRC Detainee CIA Report further explained that the program “was clearly designed to undermine human dignity and to create a sense of futility by inducing, in many cases, severe physical and mental pain and suffering, with the aim of obtaining compliance and extracting information, resulting in exhaustion, depersonalisation and dehumanisation.”
23. The interrogation methods used on detainees were euphemistically qualified by the U.S. government as “enhanced,” but the United Nations and the ICRC found that they rose to the level of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The ICRC unequivocally concluded that, upon the information gathered from interviews with the former CIA detainees, conducted after their transfer to Guantánamo:
The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel inhuman or degrading treatment.
24. The ICRC concluded that the CIA program‘s interrogation techniques consisted of: suffocation by water — or waterboarding; prolonged stress standing position while arms are shackled above the head; beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall; beating and kicking; confinement in a box; forced nudity for periods ranging from several weeks to several months; sleep deprivation through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noise or music; exposure to cold temperature; prolonged shackling; threats of ill-treatment to the detainee and/or his family, forced shaving; and deprivation or restricted provision of solid food.
25. The UN Joint Study found that the CIA had taken 94 detainees into custody and had employed “enhanced interrogation techniques to varying degrees in the interrogation of 28 of those detainees.”
26.The CIA interrogations of Abu Zubaydah were videotaped and those videotapes were sent to CIA headquarters. In total there were 92 videotapes, 12 of which included application of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The videotapes included evidence of torture, including the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah 83 times. Those videotapes were destroyed by the CIA in November 2005. Abu Zubaydah described to the ICRC his waterboarding:
I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.
27. In November 2002, another CIA detainee held in a secret site, [Abd Al-Rahim] Al-Nashiri, was arrested. He was waterboarded twice in November 2002. Although the CIA IG Report is heavily redacted when discussing the interrogation of Al-Nashiri, it confirms that CIA HQ authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against him. As discussed below, BUSH authorized and condoned the waterboarding of Al-Nashiri.
28. A third CIA “high value detainee,” Khalid Sheik Mohammed, was subjected to waterboarding 183 times. In his recent memoir, BUSH specifically acknowledged that, upon request by CIA Director George Tenet, he authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, including waterboarding. In discussing “haul[ing] out their target,” following a raid on the apartment complex where Khalid Sheik Mohammed was, and the CIA interrogation that followed, BUSH writes in DECISION POINTS:
I was relieved to have one of Al-Qaeda‘s senior leaders off the battlefield. But my relief did not last long. [CIA] Agents searching Khalid Sheik Mohammed‘s compound discovered what one official later called a “mother lode” of valuable intelligence. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was obviously planning more attacks, It didn‘t sound like he was willing to give us any information about them. “I‘ll talk to you,” he said, “after I get to New York and see my lawyer.”
George Tenet asked if he had permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, on Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I thought about meeting Danny Pearl‘s widow, who was pregnant with his son when he was murdered. I thought about the 2,973 people stolen from their families by al Qaeda on 9/11. And I thought about my duty to protect the country from another act of terror.
“Damn right,” I said.
Other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used upon Khalid Sheik Mohammed were threats to kill his children and the deprivation of sleep for 180 hours.
29. In a speech given on 6 September 2006, BUSH “officially acknowledged the existence of a CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program.” Defendant BUSH stated that “our government has changed its policies,” and admitted to authorizing an “alternative set of procedures” on persons detained “secretly” and “outside the United States” in a program operated by the CIA, while refusing to specify what techniques were authorized. BUSH also discussed another individual held in this program, Abu Zubaydah. As discussed above, Abu Zubaydah was subjected to acts of torture, including having been waterboarded at least 83 times. Notably, while BUSH stated that there were no detainees held in the CIA detention program as of 6 September 2006, he explicitly reserved the right to place, again, persons in CIA detention in secret sites beyond the reach of the law.
30. In his 6 September 2006 speech, BUSH also expressed fear that members of the U.S. military involved in torture might be prosecuted for war crimes: “some believe our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act — simply for doing their jobs in a thorough and professional way.” He emphasized that he would not allow this to happen and asked Congress to prevent detainees from pursuing civil claims against U.S. military personnel for violations of the Geneva Conventions. Through these measures, BUSH sought to provide complete immunity from justice for any member of the U.S. military who tortured a detainee.
31. Having met with the fourteen “high value detainees” held in the CIA program following their transfer from secret sites to Guantánamo in September 2006, the ICRC concluded that it “clearly considers that the allegations of the fourteen include descriptions of treatment and interrogation techniques – singly or in combination – that amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
32. On 11 June 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, of which Switzerland is a member state, published an investigative report authored by Dick Marty on secret detentions and illegal transfers of “high value detainees” by the CIA involving Council of Europe member states. The report confirmed the existence of secret CIA sites in Poland and Romania and found that the interrogation techniques used on detainees were “tantamount to torture.” On 27 June 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly, adopted a resolution in which it unequivocally stated:
The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, which was sometimes protracted. Certain “enhanced” interrogation methods used fulfill the definition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
33. In March 2008, BUSH vetoed legislation that would have banned the CIA from using “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, saying it “would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.”
34. In addition to detainees in the CIA detention program, these SERE-inspired “interrogation techniques” were also used against Mohammed al-Qahtani, a detainee at Guantánamo who was subjected to a prolonged, aggressive interrogation that violated international law, known as the “First Special Interrogation Plan” [PDF]. This interrogation plan, which began on 23 November 2002 and ended 16 January 2003, included 48 days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, dehumanizing treatment, the use of physical force against him, prolonged stress positions, prolonged sensory overstimulation, and threats with military dogs. These techniques were later widely acknowledged as torture. Indeed, the former convening office of the military commissions at Guantánamo, Susan Crawford, declared that she could not bring charges against Mr. al-Qahtani due to the torture inflicted on him: “we tortured al-Qahtani. … His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case for prosecution.”
35. There have been a plethora of reports published that detail the draconian conditions, interrogation techniques and torture that took place at Guantánamo. Since as early as 2003, ICRC staff had expressed their deep concerns about the detention conditions in Guantánamo — indeed, published memoranda by U.S. officials from that period contain descriptions of meetings held between ICRC staff and Guantánamo commander Geoffrey Miller where concerns were raised [PDF]. In 2006, a group of five United Nations Special Rapporteurs published a joint Report on the situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Crucially, this report came to the express conclusion that the interrogation techniques authorized and deployed by the Department of Defence, which operates under the command of BUSH, amounted to torture. Additionally, the UN experts also concluded inter alia that the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike amounted to acts of torture [PDF]. A 2006 report by the United Nations Committee against Torture explicitly recommended that the U.S. “rescind any interrogation technique, including methods involving sexual humiliation, ‘water boarding‘, ’short shackling‘ and using dogs to induce fear, that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” [PDF]. A 2008 study by Physicians for Human Rights came to the conclusion that many techniques used in Guantánamo, especially those exercised over a longer period or in combination with other techniques, amounted to torture. Other studies have detailed how the BUSH administration, for example, forcibly deployed the drug mefloquine against detainees at Guantánamo in order to break their resistance to interrogation, despite the fact that it is well-known to have severe side effects and cause health problems [PDF]. In sum, there is widespread international acceptance — amongst intergovernmental bodies, international experts, academics and others — that the interrogation techniques applied in Guantánamo constitute torture under international law.
36. Finally, as is well-known, detainees in Iraq, including at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, were also subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other serious violations of international law [Taguba PDF, Fay/Jones PDF, ICRC PDF, Schlesinger PDF].
C. Admissions and Findings that BUSH Authorized and Approved Torture
37. George W. BUSH has acknowledged on numerous occasions, and without any apparent remorse or consequence that he authorized and condoned the waterboarding of detainees held in U.S. custody, and that he was aware of and condoned the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” BUSH‘s own admissions are consistent with, and confirm the findings of key reports, such as the CIA Inspector General‘s Report and the Marty Report.
38. The CIA IG Report confirms that BUSH was fully briefed on the specific “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by the CIA, through consultations carried out in the summer of 2002 by the CIA with the NSC, which BUSH chaired, and with “senior Administration officials.” The CIA IG Report further confirms that in early 2003 the CIA continued to inform senior Administration officials, including the White House Counsel and others of the NSC, of the status of its Counterterrorism Program, because “[t]he Agency specifically wanted to ensure that these officials and the [Congressional] Committees continued to be aware of and approve CIA‘s actions.” Select members of the NSC were given a detailed briefing on the program by the CIA on 29 July 2003, and again on 16 September 2003: “none of those involved in these briefings expressed any reservations about the program.” BUSH met daily with, and was briefed by, his intelligence team.
39. In addition, BUSH played an active role in supporting the CIA secret detention program. Marty‘s Council of Europe investigation, for example, reported that BUSH welcomed to the Oval Office a high-level group of delegates from Bucharest to personally thank them to their contribution to the CIA program, as Romania hosted CIA black sites.
40. In an April 2008 interview with ABC News, BUSH acknowledged that he knew of the detailed discussions members of his national security team (the “Principals Committee” of the NSC) were having to define the interrogation techniques to be used by the CIA. When asked about the treatment of Khalid Sheik Mohammad, which included waterboarding, BUSH said: “I didn’t have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew.”
41. BUSH released his memoir, DECISION POINTS, on 9 November 2010. In the book, BUSH states unequivocally that he authorized the torture, including waterboarding, of individuals held in U.S. custody. He further admits and acknowledges his role in selecting and approving the interrogation techniques used by the CIA: “I took a look at the list of techniques. There were two that I felt went too far, even if they were legal. I directed the CIA not to use them. Another technique was waterboarding, a process of simulated drowning. No doubt the procedure was tough [...] I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real. Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior Al-Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk I was unwilling to take. [...] I approved the use of the interrogation techniques.”
42. BUSH details how at his direction, Department of Justice and Central Intelligence Agency lawyers conducted a legal review of the list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA. (Notably, the current U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has unequivocally defined waterboarding as an act of torture.) Having received legal advice from government lawyers that it is permissible to waterboard detainees, BUSH admits that he responded “damn right” to the query of whether Khalid Sheik Mohammed could and should be waterboarded.
43. In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News on 8 November 2010, BUSH again admitted that he authorized acts of torture, including waterboarding:
BUSH: [...] one of the high value al Qaeda operatives was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the chief operating officer of al Qaeda, ordered the attack on 9/11, and they say he’s got information. I said, “Find out what he knows.” And so I said to our team, “are the techniques legal?” And he says, “yes, they are,” and I said, “use ‘em.”
LAUER: Why is waterboarding legal, in your opinion?
BUSH: Because the lawyers said it was legal. He said it did not fall within the Anti-Torture Act. I’m not a lawyer, but you gotta trust the judgment of people around you and I do.
LAUER: You say it’s legal and “the lawyers told me.”
LAUER: Critics say that you got the Justice Department to give you the legal guidance and the legal memos that you wanted.
BUSH: Well –
LAUER: Tom Kean, who was a former Republican co-chair of the 9/11 commission, said they got legal opinions they wanted from their own people.
BUSH: He obviously doesn’t know. I hope Mr. Kean reads the book. That’s why I’ve written the book. He can — they can draw whatever conclusion they want.
44. BUSH‘s admission of authorizing torture techniques was previously acknowledged by the second-highest ranking member of his administration, Vice President Dick Cheney. On 10 May 2009, former Vice President Cheney appeared on the CBS News television program Face the Nation. Asked what BUSH had known about torture methods, Cheney replied, “I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew — he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.”