Secret White House memos approved CIA use of “waterboarding” in 2003 and 2004, according to Joby Warrick in the Washington Post. CIA Director George Tenet had obtained a 2002 Justice Department ruling that waterboarding does not legally constitute torture, but sought specific policy approval from the White House. Secretary Tenet got his White House approval for use of the technique in the 2003 and 2004 memos.
Condoleezza Rice, then White House Security Advisor, and Vice President Dick Cheney are among those known to have attended briefings on CIA waterboarding. The President was at these meetings.
Congress passed specific anti-waterboarding legistation, but it was vetoed by President George W. Bush.