Once again, it’s time to ask the all-important questions: What did the president know? And when did he know it? This time, about the CIA torture tapes.

As related in detail by Ron Suskind in his great book The One Percent Doctrine, Bush was in on the case of Abu Zubaydah from the very beginning. Zubaydah was the first al Qaeda captain captured after Sept. 11, 2001. Even though some people at the CIA insisted he was “insane,” George Tenet and George Bush both believed he was a gold mine of information. Bush bragged to the media about the significance of his capture.

Tenet personally briefed Bush on Zubaydah every morning. Together, they decided to allow Zubaydah’s gunshot wounds to be treated, so they could interrogate him later. Bush ordered then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to authorize the CIA to use torture. There’s no doubt Tenet told Bush that Zubaydah was waterboarded, and what phony information he was coughing up.

What we don’t know yet is: Did Bush know the waterboarding was videotaped? Did he authorize the taping? Did Bush himself ever watch the tapes? And did Bush, worried about being accused of war crimes, later order the CIA to burn the tapes?

Congress has called CIA Director Michael Hayden to testify. That’s not good enough. If they really want to get at the bottom of the CIA tapes, they’ve got to go all the way to the top.


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