Via Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly blog comes this quote from a Barton Gellman review of Ron Suskind's new book The One Percent Doctrine (2006). It concerns Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaida operative captured in March 2002 and touted by Bush as a big catch. Actually, he turned out to be mentally ill and had played a relatively minor operational role in Bin Laden's organization.
Gellman describes how Bush and his team decided to develop intelligence from him:
Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety - against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each ... target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered." (my emphasis)
Among other things, this claim links Bush himself directly to the criminal practice of sadistic torture.
No matter how much it may turn on the Rush Limbaugh fans, if that account is accurate that act alone would likely be a criminal offense of Bush's part.
The full article is The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light by Barton Gellman Washington Post 06/20/06.