CBS ‘Early Show’ Links Terror Interrogations to Abu Ghraib...Again

Russ Mitchell, CBS In a news brief on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell implied a link between the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and Bush administration approval of tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists: "Soon we will see more pictures of U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, like these from Abu Ghraib, are being released next month, following a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group says it is proof that prisoner abuse was widespread. And high-profile Bush administration officials are being linked to those interrogation techniques."

Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported: "Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser in 2002, verbally approved the CIA's use of waterboarding, the earliest known green light according to a Senate account." Assuras then rhetorically asked: "But her decision alone?" A clip was then played of a so-called expert, Dan Guide, from the left-wing group Center for American Progress: "I don't think that we can identify individuals who are anymore or less responsible within the higher levels of the Bush administration. This was taken as a collective decision." Assuras never mentioned the political affiliation of the organization. Later in the report, Guide lamented limitations on prosecuting Bush officials: "The most significant constraint, at least in my view, is that this entire case would be conducted with classified information."

Assuras concluded her report by declaring: "But the entire controversy is not expected to go away any time soon. In fact, it may gain more momentum." On Wednesday, co-host Harry Smith suggested a connection between Bush administration interrogation guidelines and Abu Ghraib: "...a Senate Armed Services Committee report...suggests that the roots of torture, the roots of the idea of torture were being circulated in the Pentagon and the CIA as early as 2002...Is there a line...that goes from 2002 to Abu Ghraib to the hundreds of times waterboards were used in these cases of these few CIA cases?"

Here is the full transcript of the Friday news brief:

7:09AM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: Soon we will see more pictures of U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, like these from Abu Ghraib, are being released next month, following a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group says it is proof that prisoner abuse was widespread. And high-profile Bush administration officials are being linked to those interrogation techniques. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras has more.

THALIA ASSURAS: Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser in 2002, verbally approved the CIA's use of waterboarding, the earliest known green light according to a Senate account. But her decision alone?

KEN GUIDE [CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS]: I don't think that we can identify individuals who are anymore or less responsible within the higher levels of the Bush administration. This was taken as a collective decision.

ASSURAS: Lawmakers from both sides are also getting heat, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of four congressional leaders from both parties, briefed around the same time. Her response Thursday:

NANCY PELOSI: We were not, I repeat, we -- not told that waterboarding, or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods, were used.

ASSURAS: Meantime, analysts predict prosecution of any senior officials would be very difficult.

GUIDE: The most significant constraint, at least in my view, is that this entire case would be conducted with classified information.

ASSURAS: But the entire controversy is not expected to go away any time soon. In fact, it may gain more momentum. Thalia Assuras, CBS News, Washington.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC