John Rizzo

Torture Connection: 
Lawyer for the CIA
  • Graduated from Brown University, George Washington Law School.
  • Thirty-year career with CIA. Under Bush, served as CIA Acting General Counsel.
  • Nominated as General Counsel in 2006, but nomination stalled for more than a year, then withdrawn in August 2007 after senators indicated disapproval of his role in CIA torture.
  • Despite withdrawing the nomination, Bush kept Rizzo as the CIA's top lawyer, still designated "acting."

Rizzo smoothed way for CIA to justify torture

The CIA's heightened level of secrecy makes individual accountability particularly problematic, even after patterns of abuse become public. We know little at this time about the details of John Rizzo's role in the CIA's Bush-era torture regime. It is known that he received John Yoo's memo and other documents from the White House and Justice Department approving of torturous practices. It is believed that Rizzo approved the memos in particular and the policies in general, and smoothed the way for their implementation at the CIA. It is believed that he played a major role in destroying videotape evidence of linterrogation practices, including waterboarding, that were permissible according to the high-level memos but rejected as immoral by many members of Congress and the military. Congress may be aware of additional incriminating behaviors on Rizzo's part, because he could not obtain Senate confirmation for the position in which he was serving as "acting" counsel; after the nomination was withdrawn by the White House, Rizzo remained in the same position, still "acting" but still aparently responsible for providing legal cover for torturers in the CIA.