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Two recently disclosed memos from 2003 and 2004 show the Bush administration giving CIA torture techniques, most famously waterboarding, an explicit executive nod after worries arose in the intelligence community about the legality of the treatment of detainees.

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Ron Suskind's new book alleges that the White House ordered the CIA to fabricate a link between Iraq and al-Qaida. The CIA director at the time, George Tenet, calls the claim "ridiculous." Suskind says that's just an example of "George's memory issue."

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Discussing the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, former Attorney General John Ashcroft said he didn't think waterboarding constituted torture and that the technique produced "very valuable" reports. He was testifying on the Bush administration's interrogation rules.

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Bush administration officials Vice President Dick Cheney, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft were among those who deliberated over, and eventually approved, the use of "harsh interrogation techniques" (which some would call torture) at meetings following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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Meet Rafid Ahmed Alwan, otherwise known as "Curve Ball" in intelligence circles. He's an Iraqi defector who apparently won himself a green card with his fabricated claims about Saddam Hussein's regime harboring biological weapons, which became the CIA's (and Colin Powell's) key justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

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A newly released internal CIA report lays the "ultimate blame" for a lack of strategy to combat al-Qaida before 9/11 on former Director George Tenet, who calls the charge "flat wrong." Congress ordered the declassification of the scathing document, which was completed in 2005.

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It's no wonder that an administration that celebrated and rewarded liars and opportunists would produce the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, who followed up the Iraq disaster with a scandal at the World Bank, and George Tenet, who held his tongue until the price was right. But how do they sleep at night?

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George Tenet's combative interview with "60 Minutes" is as fascinating as it is upsetting. The former CIA director careens between defensive ire and finger-pointing at an administration he says distracted us from the biggest threat to our nation's security.

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While the natural human fascination with gossip and backbiting among our rulers guarantees media coverage and best-seller status for George Tenet's new memoir, the former CIA director cannot achieve absolution in print or on television.

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