Rice admits Bush officials held White House talks on CIA interrogations

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WASHINGTON -- Senior Bush administration officials held a series of meetings in the White House in 2002 and 2003 to discuss allowing the CIA to use harsh interrogation methods on Al Qaeda detainees, according to a written statement Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently provided to Senate investigators.

Rice's written response to investigators on the Senate Armed Services Committee marks the first time a high-ranking White House official has formally acknowledged the White House discussions, which led to the CIA's use of waterboarding and other coercive methods.

In particular, Rice wrote in the Sept. 12 statement that officials discussed simulated torture techniques that elite U.S. soldiers were subjected to as part of a survival training program, and that she and other officials were told that such methods "had been deemed not to cause significant physical or psychological harm."

Rice, who was serving as national security advisor at the time of the discussions, did not identify the source of that assertion. She was referring to a U.S. military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, which at times has included waterboarding and other controversial methods subsequently employed by the CIA.

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