Former Bush official blasts torture memos

Philip Zelikow, a former top adviser to President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, blasted the Bush administration's interrogation practices today, arguing the legal rationale found in the so-called "torture memos" was highly flawed.

"The U.S. government over the past seven years adopted an unprecedented program in American history of coolly calculated dehumanizing abuse and physical torment to extract information," Zelikow told a Senate panel. "This was a mistake. Perhaps a disastrous one."

Zelikow said the legal rationale justifying enhanced interrogation was "strained and indefensible in a whole variety of ways," adding that the same argument would, in principle, make it constitutional to use waterboarding "anywhere in the United States [and] on American citizens."

The former State Department counselor said he had circulated a memo outlining his doubts about the interrogation rationale, but that White House officials ordered the memo to be destroyed.

Zelikow is one of several experts testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.