Rice’s turnaround on "coercive interrogation" and secret prisons

From this fantastic NYT article (or “that rag” as some of my colleagues might term it):

The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program…

The report landed on the desks of some White House officials who were already having their doubts about the wisdom of the C.I.A.’s harsh methods. John B. Bellinger III, who, as the National Security Council’s top lawyer, played a role in discussions when the program was approved in 2002, by the next year had begun to research past ill-fated British and Israeli use of torture and grew doubtful about the wisdom of the techniques.

Mr. Bellinger shared his doubts with his boss, Ms. Rice, then the national security adviser, who began to reconsider her strong support for the program.

Then on secret prisons:

Mr. Cheney led those who argued that publicly acknowledging the detainees would reveal secrets and expose the program to exaggerated accusations of torture.

Ms. Rice, on the other hand, advocated moving the 14 remaining detainees in C.I.A. custody to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Only by publicly admitting that the United States had held the prisoners could Mr. Bush end what critics called the “disappearing” of terrorism suspects, she told colleagues.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed a middle ground: move the detainees to Guantánamo but never acknowledge having held them in secret prisons. This proposal, lampooned by some officials as the “immaculate conception” option, was dismissed as unrealistic.

After a tense meeting in the White House’s grand Roosevelt Room in summer 2006, Mr. Cheney lost the argument to Ms. Rice. Within days the C.I.A. prisoners were loaded onto a C-17 cargo plane and taken to Cuba.

So the takeaway seems to be that Rice was a moderating influence in the White House, even if not at first. When defending the decisions then, is she simply standing by her former boss?

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