Lying to Congress before the Torture Tapes

This morning I suggested that one reason the CIA destroyed the torture tapes was to protect the European countries in which the interrogations took place. I then showed that Mary McCarthy, who was fired from the CIA for allegedly serving as a source for Dana Priest’s black sites article, claims that a high level CIA official (who is likely to have been involved in the torture tape destruction) lied to Congress in the lead-up to the McCain Amendment and, therefore, in the lead-up to the destruction of the terror tapes. Now, I’d like to show how the lies alleged by McCarthy coincide with Jello Jay Rockefeller’s attempts to learn more about the CIA’s torture practices (I’ve updated my torture tapes timeline accordingly).

McCarthy alleges that a senior CIA official lied to Congress on two occasions. Once, to HPSCI (and particularly Jane Harman), in February 2005.

In addition to CIA misrepresentations at the session last summer, McCarthy told the friends, a senior agency official failed to provide a full account of the CIA’s detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat.

And once, to staffers of (presumably) SSCI, in June 2005:

A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that the agency did not violate or seek to violate an international treaty that bars cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees, during interrogations it conducted in the Middle East and elsewhere.

While Harman has only publicly noted her written objection to the terror tape destruction in 2003, Jello Jay has outlined his attempts to exercise oversight over the CIA’s torture.

In May 2005, I wrote the CIA Inspector General requesting over a hundred documents referenced in or pertaining to his May 2004 report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation activities. Included in my letter was a request for the CIA to provide to the Senate Intelligence Committee the CIA’s Office of General Counsel report on the examination of the videotapes and whether they were in compliance with the August 2002 Department of Justice legal opinion concerning interrogation. The CIA refused to provide this and the other detention and interrogation documents to the committee as requested, despite a second written request to CIA Director Goss in September 2005.

It was during this 2005 period that I proposed without success, both in committee and on the Senate floor, that the committee undertake an investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation activities. [my emphasis]

Jello Jay makes it clear that he, at least, had read the IG report on CIA’s interrogation programs by May 2005 (at least, that’s what the May 2004 document appears to be). Presumably, some of Jello Jay’s staffers at least knew of the report and its general allegations. And Jello Jay made two requests for documents referenced in the IG report–once in May 2005 (before the CIA official lied to SSCI staffers) and once in September 2005 (still two months before the CIA destroyed the tapes). Since Jello Jay appears to have been working from a copy of the IG report that apparently judges that CIA’s interrogation methods amount to cruel and inhuman treatment, the questions the SSCI staffers asked the senior CIA official were undoubtedly very pointed questions. In fact, note the description of the question relayed via McCarthy’s friends: the CIA official "promised repeatedly that the agency did not violate or seek to violate an international treaty that bars cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees" [my emphasis]. From reports of the IG report, that is precisely the language Helverson used.

A report by Mr. Helgerson’s office completed in the spring of 2004 warned that some C.I.A.-approved interrogation procedures appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the international Convention Against Torture.

In other words, this CIA official appears to have been asked questions that directly pertain to material included in the IG report. But he appears to have denied facts that presumably are laid out in some detail in the report. And then, five months later, the CIA, possibly with the direct participation of this CIA official, decided to destroy tapes that proved he had lied to Congress.

But the CIA would have you believe that they destroyed the tapes to protect their own image.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

80 replies
  1. Hmmm says:

    I wonder whether the CIA — or at least some of them — might think their story plausibly parses as true because the actual interrogator may have been non-CIA — say, from another agency (DOD etc.) or even another branch (State), or hired and paid by same; or else, as suggested in a previous thread, a non-US person, for example, a national of the country in which the interrogation occurred. So, in that (alien, criminal, wrong) view, CIA would be observing, not doing.

  2. rapt says:

    Ho – step back a bit. Torture is a serious crime. It is on the books as such. Book em Joe. All these arguments can be made in court.

  3. phred says:

    EW, I would add the CIA IG report to your timeline (May 2004). And then I wonder who besides Jello Jay had access to that report? Goldsmith resigns in mid-June 2004, withdrawing the Bybee memo as you note. So now CIA has a double whammy, an internal IG report indicating what they are doing is illegal, plus Goldsmith pulling out the rug over at DoJ as well. One can easily see where panic would ensue. Meanwhile the 9/11 Commission (May 2004) and the courts are starting to pay attention (whether it is Clements bs argument at the SC saying we don’t torture or the outstanding requests from Brinkema looking for evidence). Again, this raises the question of why not destroy all the evidence — in for a penny, in for a pound and all that.

    The other thing I wonder is if the tapes were destroyed in an eastern European country to hide their complicity in torture and it was prompted by Priest’s story on the black sites, and the subsequent need to relocate all the prisoners at that site, then who’s to say the decision to destroy the tapes didn’t come from the country in question? Lets say for example, it’s Romania and the Romanians involved panic that their contributions to our torture regime will jeopardize their entry into the EU, then this may not have been our CIA helping to cover their tracks. It might also have been the Romanian President (Prime Minister? whoever) getting on the horn with W and saying you will destroy this or else. And it got destroyed. If that is the case, it would help explain why all tapes (or their equivalents) were not destroyed.

    • bigbrother says:

      For the record:
      I scanned the 131 pages for interrogation of detainess/prisoners. There were a lot of excuses or rationalization for the abuse. There were also explicit proceedures to obtain pemission for some questionable behavior. The Army feild manual was recommeneded as a guideline.
      Under no sircumstances was torture supposed to take place.
      Overlooking violations is not an excuse.
      This is just the military, the CIA and others have some tall expailing to do.

  4. MadDog says:

    EW, you quote Jello Jay saying:

    It was during this 2005 period that I proposed without success, both in committee and on the Senate floor, that the committee undertake an investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation activities.

    And then when the Democrats win control of the Senate in November 2006 and Jello Jay is crowned with whipped cream Chairman of SSCI, his clamor for said investigation sounds like…what? Crickets?

    Can anyone name one single thing that Jello Jay has ever successfully accomplished?

    Hint…always losing at p*ker with Deadeye don’t count.

    • phred says:

      Presumably, he once successfully unlocked his safe, so he could tuck a copy of that sternly worded letter to Cheney safely inside it.

  5. MadDog says:

    Well, Shrubble always loses at p*ker with Deadeye too.

    Hint…Deadeye cheats, but even if he didn’t neither Shrubble nor Jello Jay have enough sense to fold when holding half a pair of 2s.

  6. Mary says:

    Do we know for sure that Jay had a copy of, or had actually seen, the IG report or just that he had received a briefing on its existence and possible consequences?

    LS – you should also read Fear Up Harsh and you’ll find some open detail of a soldier turning in abuse info and none of it ever getting into “the record” Which gives an idea of how many holes there are and were when it comes to things no in the Bush adminsitration wants to talk about.

  7. spy4hire says:

    haha! you scooped Jason Leopold! He is working on the same story on McCarthy. He contacted McCarthy for a comment on Wednesday. She’s an attorney now. I know this because I was there when he called.

    nice work

  8. sailmaker says:

    Cheney went to Poland in Jan 2005. Maybe Poland, rather than Romania would be the place we should be looking for torture tapes? Poland entered into the EU in April 2004, but they apparently have not done all of the requirements like adopting the Euro.

    If I were Lech Kaczynski or any president of Poland, particularly one with a history of wanting to get the Communists out of Polish politics, I’d tell a U.S. President that they could have a missile shield site if the black site and the tapes disappeared. And IF (big if) the tapes happened to have records of someone like Cheney watching torture, so much the better to get the dirty deed of moving the black site accomplished.

    • phred says:

      Perhaps Poland is the place to look, but from chrisc’s comment in this earlier thread Poland was admitted in 2004, but Romania was not approved until 2007. The tapes weren’t destroyed until November 2005, so my bet (for now) is on Romania.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I don’t care whether torture happened in country X, Y, or Z. Under US and international law, it’s a crime. And it’s a crime whether it happened in Romania, or whether it happened in Poland.

        Weakening the narrative with too many (unnecessary) details plays straight into Dubya, Cheney, Addington, et al’s hands. The more details, the more opportunities they’ll create for confusion and bamboozelment.

        If CHS, EW, Jane Hamsher, and Glenn Greenwald hadn’t kept reiterating the main narrative of the Libby crimes, I’m convinced that Libby would never have stood trial. Everyone would have been so confused by irrelevant details about Armitage, or bogus arguments about whether Fitz was an ‘out of control’ prosecutor, that they would have lost focus on Libby’s crimes. (Recall that the US press didn’t really pick the story up until after the blogs keep explaining it. After that point, the media reporting improved.)

        This story is about:
        1. the torture tapes,
        2. the refusal to turn them over to Congress (!), and
        3. the refusal to admit their existence to a federal judge.

        All three represent felonies.

        Waterlogging the narrative only increases the chances these depraved creeps will weasel out of their culpability.
        Keeping it simple means that no one can miss the meaning here.
        Red herrings only play into Cheney’s hands. Avoid them.

        Just MHO.

    • billinturkey says:

      they apparently have not done all of the requirements like adopting the Euro.

      Just for the record: you don’t have to adopt the Euro to be in the EU. (Britain is an example).

      It’s possible that Poland’s EU status depends on fufilling various criteria, but these would normally be quite narrowly stated and more likely to be economic than, say Human Rights related.

  9. bobschacht says:

    Well, for the record, I want to thank Glenn Greenwald for his piece today (Sunday December 30, 2007 07:47 EST) on Oligarchical decay, Christy Hardin Smith for her two essays on Torture Questions, and now these essays by EW on the torture tapes!

    This is an incredible roll. Can we spotlight the lot of them to all the major media?

    Thank you, Glenzilla! Thank you Christy! Thank you, EW!
    Keep those hits a-comin’!

    Bob in HI

    • klynn says:

      Agreed. Might I suggest copying them to your congress critters and your local newspapers and anyone in the MSM.

      The more “they” know we are looking at said sources and see this in “sunshine,” the more chance of pushing the MSM and Congess to do their jobs for the People.

      It’s the sixth day of Christmas…I can dream a little…

      In all seriousness, high praise to all and a cheers for the added information coming from the threads…

  10. MadDog says:

    I’m reading the transcript of the General Mikey Hayden, CIA Director’s interview with Charlie Rose on October 22nd 2007. In it Mikey says this:

    D/CIA: …The total number of people detained by the CIA is fewer than a hundred. In the life of the program, since the capture of Abu Zubaydah in March of 2002. Of these people detained, the number against whom we have used any kind of enhanced interrogation techniques is fewer than a third of the fewer than a hundred.

    I would parse that number to about 25 or so folks that the CIA itself performed “enhanced interrogation techniques” on.

    EW or anyone else: does that number comport with what has been previously made public? I guess I was under the impression that publicly, the CIA had not admitted to such a high number.

    • bmaz says:

      This is probably a ticky tack discussion point, but I think with principals in the Bush Administration, when they parsing, you must assume that even if by random chance their parsing is accurate, they have told not one iota of truth than they had to. In this case, that would say to me that “fewer than 100″ therefore means 99; and “fewer than a third of the fewer than a hundred” means 32. That is the most credit I would give these pricks; and that is even assuming they are not lying about this too.

  11. MadDog says:

    Ok, more stuff from the Mikey Hayden/Charlie Rose October 22nd 2007 interview:

    ROSE: And that’s why the regions you choose–I know that argument. Here is another argument that you make. There is this thing called a space that you say, the space is to give the CIA space to do what it needs to do, because it’s engaged in a war, and in this space, it’s been given it by the Constitution. You believe that certain kinds of things happening in our country, or in part of what’s happening, one is media, influenced and tighten the space. You believe that press coverage in some ways limits your maneuverability and restricts your space. Right?

    D/CIA: I’m tempted to say yes, but I’m reluctant to, because I know the importance of a free press. I know what it means to me as a citizen. I know what it means to CIA officers because they’re all American citizens as well. I guess what I’m looking for–what puzzles me is not that we’re the subject of many stories. I’d rather we weren’t the subject of so many, but that happens. What puzzles me is to why there seems to be this temptation–almost irresistible–temptation to take any story about us and move it into the darkest corner of the room.

    ROSE: Tell me what you mean by that. You’ve said that before.

    D/CIA: Let me give you an example.

    ROSE: What’s the darkest corner of the room?

    D/CIA: There was a story about 10 days ago from a rather large newspaper up the street.

    ROSE: Right. This would be the New York Times.

    D/CIA: It would be. That talked about–they claimed that there had been a Department of Justice opinion in the spring of 2005, that –and if you read the article, you would seem to get the impression that it expanded the authorities of CIA, or expanded the number of techniques that would be used. And all of us at the Agency looked at the story and maybe this is our narrow perspective. I mean we all kind of have a point of view depending on what it is we do day in and day out. We were looking at the story, something of a narrative disbelief. Number one, and I can’t get too far in detail about this, which I truly do regret. The opinion that Justice gave the CIA in the spring of 2005 was the result of a request from our Agency for greater clarity on the program, legal clarity, on a program that was already existing. That’s one fact. Number two, that’s history. Since the time of the decision that the New York Times reported on in the spring of 2005, we had the Detainee Treatment Act in December of 2005, we had the Hamdan decision in the summer of 2006, we had the Military Commissions Act in the fall of 2006. They have all changed the legal landscape under which CIA’s program is operated.

    ROSE: Made it more restrictive.

    D/CIA: It changed the legal framework and so–that to look at an opinion Justice offered in the spring of 2005–that simply has no relevance to the lawfulness or the legal opinion under which CIA is operating in the fall of 2007.

    Shorter Mikey: “Doing bad stuff to detainees was the past. We be real nice folks now.”

    Please don’t send me to jail. I promise to be a good boy from now on.

  12. Mary says:

    20 – Here’s what Dana Priest’s article said:…..01644.html

    More than 100 suspected terrorists have been sent by the CIA into the covert system, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials and foreign sources. This figure, a rough estimate based on information from sources who said their knowledge of the numbers was incomplete, does not include prisoners picked up in Iraq.

    About 30 are considered major terrorism suspects and have been held under the highest level of secrecy at black sites financed by the CIA and managed by agency personnel, including those in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, according to current and former intelligence officers and two other U.S. government officials. Two locations in this category — in Thailand and on the grounds of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay — were closed in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

    A second tier — which these sources believe includes more than 70 detainees — is a group considered less important, with less direct involvement in terrorism and having limited intelligence value. These prisoners, some of whom were originally taken to black sites, are delivered to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, a process sometimes known as “rendition.” While the first-tier black sites are run by CIA officers, the jails in these countries are operated by the host nations, with CIA financial assistance and, sometimes, direction.

    I’m guessing that Hayden (who wasn’t running CIA back then)is parsing to get at the ones that actually touched feet in blacksites. So directed torture after kidnap of someone like Arar wouldn’t be on his list, or torture by friends and pals other than the CIA.

    So I’m guessing that he is either referring to actual waterboarding and other shockingly criminal acts (like freezing to DEATH a detainee in 2002) done on the 30ish high value group, or he’s being more honest (hard to buy) and admitting that CIA did use enhanced interrogation (sleep deprivation, hypothermia, stress, assaults, etc.) on everyone it held at its black sites, but not on all the people it kidnapped, since 2/3 of them were sent to foreign countries for torture (like al-Libi) and their torture was just directed and financed by the CIA for uses such as making sure Cheney got his “Iraq training camps” confession.

    To be honest, I don’t really know how disappearing someone into isolation of a black site isn’t “enhanced interrogation techniques” right there, since it complies with neither domestic criminal law nor military law standards.

  13. Mary says:

    we had the Detainee Treatment Act in December of 2005, we had the Hamdan decision in the summer of 2006, we had the Military Commissions Act in the fall of 2006

    Wow – good to know there were no carve outs for CIA in any of that stuff, and that Congress didn’t change the UCMJ via the MCA so as to neuter Hamdan, and that the President wasn’t left with the ability to define torture for the purpose of conventions and treaties or the power, through a corrupt DOJ, to engage in selective prosecution to exempt all his personal torturers and to stamp “secret” on war crimes so they evade prosecution and it’s really good to know that the DTA and MCA preserved personal causes of action for the victims of abuse, kidnapping and torture.




    BTW – I’m not sure how Hayden would count KSM’s wife and children who have been disappeared. Maybe one 6yo and one 8yo only add up to one person, so you have to waterboard both of them just to keep the numbers even?

  14. MadDog says:

    And more “he said what????” stuff from Mikey Hayden’s interview with Charlie Rose on October 22nd 2007:

    D/CIA: What I was trying to do was to call the attention of the press and folks like yourself and others to this issue. This is not a free ride. America is made less safe when these kinds of stories are made public. Now, there may be–there may be other concerns –

    ROSE: Would you accept the idea that there are people–reasonable people can disagree over that?

    D/CIA: I can. But let me add, all right? We haven’t talked about it. But I was going to say, but I was at NSA when we began and continued with the president identified later as the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

    ROSE: Right, right.

    D/CIA: All right? Even I–by the way, very comfortable with the lawfulness of the program and incredibly comfortable with the scrupulousness with which it was carried out–even I can see that there is a civil liberties issue there.

    That 4th Amendment is sooooo quaint, but I like it.

  15. MadDog says:

    I admit it. I’m a Civil Liberty Violations Junkie. So here is some more from Mikey:

    D/CIA: I can’t talk about that. NSA is a very conservative culture legally. Our lawyers at NSA were notorious for their conservatism up through the morning of September 11th, 2001. The single most consistent criticism of the NSA legal office by our congressional oversight committee was that our legal office was too conservative. Now you’ve talked about warrants and why didn’t you go get a warrant and so on, and it’s a long issue. It’s one that I wish we could lay out in great detail, but let me tell you what I said to anyone who’d care to listen during the life of this program when I briefed them on this program. And I made dozens of briefings on this program prior to the December 2005 story in the New York Times. Simple version that I gave is that FISA as currently crafted–

    ROSE: Where you go to get the warrant?

    D/CIA: That’s correct. FISA, as currently crafted and implemented, could not give the nation the same degree of protection that was afforded by operating under the President’s Article II authorities, which was what we were doing.

    This is pretty simple to understand. FISA requires warrants, but Junya The Warmonger, he don’t need no steekin’ paperwork. Tap, tap, tap away!

    And my apologies to soon-to-be ex-Senator Craig. Who knew that your wide-stance was protectin’ us from the Terrorists!

  16. Mary says:

    Hayden didn’t bother to have the Bin Laden intercepts translated until after 9/11, despite the “hair on fire” and “bin laden determined to attack” scenario in DC.

    It’s not that FISA couldn’t give the nation protection, it’s that Hayden screwed up, knows it, and needs (probably personally as well as legally – he was very defensive-agreessive in his 9/11 inquiry testimony which seems to think he was trying to blame before he was blamed) to blame something else.

    Heaven only knows, the complete abandonment of the Constitution (while he was serving in uniform no less) by the NSA and DOJ really helped track down bin laden, got us correct info on Iraq and made us safer by keeping us out of an immoral quagmire, found Zawahiri, discovered that Arar and el-Masri were not terrorist before they were rendered to torture …




  17. MadDog says:

    On a related topic, here’s some more CIA goodies:

    HPSCI Chairman Reyes Honors D/NCS Jose Rodriguez

    …We have an individual here that Mike Delaney tells me was the impetus to – I hope all of you are familiar with the TV series “24.” This gentleman that I’m about to thank was really the genesis – with a few liberties that Hollywood takes – the exploits of Jose Rodriguez are documented in the series “24.”


    …a grateful nation that will never forget your hard work and your sacrifices. Mr. Jose Rodriguez, Director of National Clandestine Service. Please give him a big round of applause.

    I guess we can rest assured that HPSCI Chairman Reyes will provide us with a completely impartial investigation into his BFF Jose Rodriguez and the destruction of those Torture Tapes.

    I know I’ll sure sleep better.

  18. phred says:

    After a quick review of the NY Times 2005 archive of articles that mention Romania, here is a brief timeline of why Romania in particular would very motivated to hide any evidence of torture on their part (if any such evidence exists, which in 2005 Romania strenuously denied). Note, I haven’t looked at articles pertaining to Poland or the Czech Republic yet.

    Dec 2004: Romania’s new president, Traian Basescu, rode to victory on a platform of close adherence to the line in Washington and London.

    April 14, 2005: European Parliament voted to give the green light to Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union…to be admitted in 2007 if they meet demands for democratic and market reforms and make efforts to fight corruption.

    Note, admission requires ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, its Article 3 prohibits torture, and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. There are no exceptions or limitations on this right.
    This provision usually applies, apart from torture, to cases of severe police violence and poor conditions in detention. The European Court of Human Rights has further held that this provision prohibits the extradition of a person to a foreign state if they are likely to be subjected there to torture. Unlike in the US, the ECHR gives individuals (not just states) the right to sue.

    June 16, 2005: EU fails to ratify their constitution; Membership of Romania and Bulgaria could be delayed as well… Earlier this week, Olli Rehn, the European Union’s enlargement commissioner, told reporters that both nations had been warned of a possible delay because of the slow pace of actions they are required to take before they join.

    July 13, 2005: Olli Rehn, the European Union’s top official responsible for enlargement, issued a blunt warning to Bulgaria and Romania, telling them that their membership in the European Union in 2007 would be postponed if they did not carry out necessary reforms. He cited the need to address corruption and to reform the judiciary in both countries.

    Nov. 2, 2005: Priest article appears in WaPo (see Mary’s link above)

    Nov. 4, 2005: EU begins looking into report of secret prisons, Human Rights Watch singled out Poland and Romania as probable locations in eastern Europe. Both countries deny involvement.

    Nov. 5 – Dec. 13, 2005: A whole flurry (10) articles appear with lots of denials, I’ll skip most except for the two where the CIA demands an inquiry and Condi appears to prevaricate wildly…

    Nov. 9, 2005: The Central Intelligence Agency has asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation to determine the source of a Washington Post article that said the agency had set up a covert prison network in Eastern Europe and other countries to hold important terrorism suspects, government officials said on Tuesday.

    Dec. 6, 2005: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chastised European leaders on Monday, saying that before they complain about secret jails for terror suspects in European nations, they should realize that interrogations of these suspects have produced information that helped “save European lives.”…At the same time, she denied that the United States has moved suspects to these prisons to allow interrogators to use torture. “The United States,” she said, “does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances.” At another point, she said, “The United States does not transport and has not transported detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture.”

    I particularly like these last two since the CIA demand for an investigation strikes me as an indication that the information was truthful and Condi’s remarks suggest that her attitude is, “so what if we do, we’re saving lives”. In addition, she seems to be addressing the point Mary made in an earlier thread that even transferring prisoners in this manner violates the law (not just here, but in the EU as well, as specified in the ECHR above).

    One other note, in addition to Romania not wanting to blow their shot at joining the EU, one has to ask what (besides ratting out W on torture) the Romanians can hold over Bush’s head. An October article (not listed above) notes that Romania has been actively involved in helping remove nuclear material from Kazhakstan, the only central Asian country with a lot of nuclear leftovers from the Soviet Union that everyone is fretting will fall into the hands of terrorists.

    So, in our hypothetical scenario, if Romania wants evidence destroyed, I would guess they could easily persuade the CIA/BushCo to comply.

    • billinturkey says:

      One thing that makes me a bit dubious about the suggestion that the tapes were destroyed to avoid embarrassing the Romanians is that the Bush admin’s treatment of Blair frequently suggested that when it came to embarrassing an ally…they just didn’t care.

      Not that I’m a Blair fan – but it wasn’t hard to spot.

      • phred says:

        I agree, BushCo has never given a damn about anyone else’s best interests from what I can tell. The difference here is that the air base was in Romania. So I’m not sure who would have prevented them from going in and clearing things out themselves. If the CIA was “scrambling” it suggests they weren’t calling the shots, otherwise they would have proceeded as they saw fit and would have presumably been less stressed out by whatever their game plan would have been.

  19. phred says:

    Dang it. I just wrote a nice long comment (it had a timeline and links and everything) looking at Romania in 2005 as covered in the NY Times and it appears to have disappeared into the ether. It’s late, so I’ll just briefly summarize…

    The EU voted in April 2005 to admit Romania in 2007. In June, the EU failed to ratify their first Consitution and things were looking rocky for Romania’s pending admission, with further deterioration of their situation in July.

    Nov. 2nd the Priest article appeared, followed almost immediately (Nov. 4) by calls in the EU for an investigation. By Nov. 9th the CIA was demanding an inquiry be conducted by DoJ to find out who leaked the story. Human Rights Watch indicated Poland and Romania were probable sites of the prisons, which both countries denied. Rice flies to Europe and proceeds to lie both about both the transfer of prisoners (almost certainly to address the violation Mary noted in an earlier thread) and the practice of torture. Even better in the same article she also says Europe should STFU (ok, that’s paraphrasing) because they are saving European lives.

    So, Romania (more so than Poland in my opinion) would be highly motivated to cover their tracks in the event that they have violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). They have already been warned repeatedly that their admission might be delayed and now people are finding out about things Romania would not have wanted to come out. In addition to being able to demand BushCo destroy evidence for them on the grounds they could expose the torture program, Romania was also actively involved in removing and securing leftover nukes from Kazhakstan (the only central Asian country with a large arsenal leftover from the Soviet era, that everyone was fretting would fall into the hands of terrorists). I imagine if their President (who came into office in Dec. 2004 on a platform of tight cooperation with the US and Britain) demanded a few inconvenient tapes be destroyed, that that demand would be honored.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Oh, Jeezzz. In view of this:

      In addition to being able to demand BushCo destroy evidence for them on the grounds they could expose the torture program, Romania was also actively involved in removing and securing leftover nukes from Kazhakstan (the only central Asian country with a large arsenal leftover from the Soviet era, that everyone was fretting would fall into the hands of terrorists).

      I retract my earlier comment, along with an apology.
      Oh, and does anyone here suppose for one instant that Putin and Hu don’t have all the details? (And perhaps plenty of the nukes, but for that kind of info we’d need a working CIA WMD division… oh… nevermind.)

      • phred says:

        rOTL, no apology needed ; ) I’m just contemplating the possibilities. I’m not suggesting any of this business about Romania is true. In fact, I have not entirely been on board with this whole business about the tapes being in foreign countries, but EW’s analysis of the NY Times article points out something about the tapes that has really been bothering me… why weren’t they ALL destroyed, if the CIA was so worried. So if she is right and the tapes that were destroyed were only in one country, what if the motivation for the destruction came at the insistence of the host country. If true, Romania would have good reason, and apparently the political leverage, to force the issue. One thing I left out in my haste to rewrite the comment last night was this…

        Nov. 2: Priest’s article
        Nov. 4: Human Rights Watch points a finger at Poland (already a member of the EU) and Romania (not yet a member)
        Dec. 9: Reporters visit Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base at the invitation of Romanian President Traian Basescu to ascertain whether there is any indication of Romanian participation in the secret prison system.

        As EW highlighted from the NY Times article, in a previous thread, the CIA had to scramble to relocate prisoners. From the above, the CIA and Romanians had a month to get rid of the prisoners and all of the evidence (including the tapes) so the Romanians could bring in reporters for their show and tell.

        I think sometimes we tend to be a bit myopic about foreign affairs being entirely driven by the interests of BushCo (e.g., a lot of the commentary on the Bhutto assassination), but it seems to me a host country whose own interests were threatened by revelations of helping out BushCo could have been the impetus behind the destroyed tapes (whether it was Romania or another country).

        That said, I do not mean to imply that that somehow leaves BushCo off the hook. They are the ones who implemented this horrendous policy, stonewalled the courts and the 9/11 commission, broke the law and covered it up. There is all sorts of blame to go around and I hope prosecutions will follow. But neglecting the motivations of other countries to act in their own self interest seems to me to be a huge oversight.

    • Rayne says:

      Poland became the 25th member State of the Council of Europe on 26 November 1991; it ratified the European Convention on Human Rights on 19 January 1993.

      Romania became the 32nd member State of the Council of Europe on 7 October 1993; it ratified the European Convention on Human Rights on 20 June 1994.

      IMO, I don’t think the more formal status as an EU state has anything to do with their decision making process. There were at least 14 countries involved, with Poland and Romania being suspect of a larger role; the other countries are also complicit in some way.

      We should not be ignoring the other states, either; the Czech Republic along with Poland was courted for development and housing of a missile defense system. Any country in the flight path from Iraq to Sweden should be considered suspect.

      • phred says:

        Romania’s admission to the EU was pending and in trouble in 2005. Given France’s opposition to bringing in the poorer countries of Eastern Europe and Turkey, it’s not hard to imagine that any excuse would have been treated as a good excuse to postpone their entry.

        I’ve just looked over the NY Times archive for 2005 for both Poland and the Czech Republic and I didn’t see any articles like the one about Romania where either Poland or the Czechs were knocking themselves out to prove it wasn’t them. Romania appears to have been really rattled by the secret prison story. Of course, the NY Times is not the end all be all of reporting, so perhaps they missed it (or I did in my review).

        Also, I’m not suggesting other countries weren’t complicit. Other countries probably had their own sets of tapes. The question I’m trying to address is why were these tapes in particular destroyed in Nov. 2005? It seems likely to me that either the host country precipitated their destruction or there was something unique to those tapes that led the CIA to destroy those tapes, but not the rest of their collection. No idea. I’m just speculating, trying to understand the sequence of events that as yet makes no sense to me.

        • Rayne says:

          In my experience doing global competitive intel for marketing purposes, I didn’t rely on papers in the U.S. exclusively. That’s one of our problems, too Ameri-centric in our search.

          Try the same search you used on NYT archives on BBC, Guardian, and Der Spiegel, maybe Die Welt. Be careful if you go to Italian papers, choose one unaffiliated with Berlusconi.

          You can readily find EU papers at (link to European region papers), then look for the link to their websites as you open each paper. Not all will have any English version, unfortunately, and you’ll have to keep politics in mind. (Turkish papers are all over the map in terms of politics, for example…)

  20. pdaly says:

    Was having trouble accessing site a few minutes ago.

    It may have been mentioned earlier but Dec 30 appears to be the 2 year anniversary of McCain antitorture legislation.

    Per Charlie Savage at the Boston Globe, Bush took this opportunity to sign in the law and append his unpublicized (at the time) signing statement absolving himself from the law’s restraints.…..rture_ban/

    “Bush could bypass new torture ban”

    By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | January 4, 2006
    • WASHINGTON — When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

    After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ‘’signing statement” — an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law — declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

  21. pdaly says:

    Dec 30 is also the 4th anniversary of Patrick Fitzgerald’s appointment as Special Counsel in the CIA leak investigation.


    • bobschacht says:

      “I suppose you all saw one of the best editorials in the NYT which addresses the torture issue. Felt good to read that!”

      Thanks for the link. Just read it. Amazing– and yet in closing, they say nothing about impeachment, which is the Constitutional solution to this mess.

      Thanks again to Glenn Greemwald, Christy, and EW for a series of dynamite posts yesterday on the situation with the tapes and the coverup. Is Fred Fielding holding his head in his hands to keep it from exploding yet?

      Bob in HI

  22. BayStateLibrul says:

    Nice job tracking down the loaded pistol.
    My question is the WH’s role in this affair.
    Is the CIA a rogue Agency?
    Hasn’t the President, VEEP, and DOJ soiled themselves again by taking cover, playing the role of the innocent bystander.
    Who the fuck is in charge?
    Alarm bells are going off, and all we see are the bloody gashes to the
    Aren’t we at that PIVOTAL moment, where the administration has gone too far with no avenue of escape…
    Geez, I hope so.

    • phred says:

      Are you suggesting I’m immoderate? ; ) Point taken. In the end the shorter one was better, I really need to leave the timelines to you…

      • BayStateLibrul says:


        Way late to the party.
        Love to see a Packers/Patsie Super Bowl.
        A delectable wine and cheesehead party?

        • phred says:

          You and me both! I’ll bring my Packer CrockPot (nope, not kidding, thanks Mom!) with a lovely cheese fondue. New England isn’t exactly known for their wines, but I think there are some. And I’ll share one of my extra Cheeseheads with you, if you like : )

          • BayStateLibrul says:

            Plenty of winos, but no wine.
            Clam Chowdah or Maine Lobster?
            I’m taking Captain Ahab’s advice, “Don’t count your quahogs before they hatch” Moby Dick, circa 1800’s.

  23. Rayne says:

    What I want to know: who was handling logistics?

    Asked very late a couple of threads ago if Dusty Foggo was top of logistics mgmt food chain for eastern EU in 2001-2003 time frame. If not Foggo, who else?

  24. Rayne says:

    Here, phred, something from the for you — in English!

    Rights body stands over claims of CIA interrogations in Poland (10-DEC-05)

    POLAND served as the CIA’s main centre to detain terrorist suspects in Europe at clandestine prisons, according to remarks by a Human Rights Watch investigator made public Friday.The claim came even as Poland’s leaders continued to vigorously deny any involvement.

    Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the rights organisation, told Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza that Human Rights Watch had documents corroborating its case about Poland, and showing Romania was a transit point for moving prisoners.

    “Poland was the main base of interrogating prisoners and Romania was more of a hub,” Garlasco told the newspaper in an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. “This is what our sources from the CIA tell us and what is shown from the documents we gathered.”

    This week, Poland’s outgoing President Aleksander Kwasniewski stressed that “there are no such prisons or such prisoners on Polish territory.” On November 28, he said “there never have been” such jails.

    The Council of Europe has ordered Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty to investigate the matter.

    They don’t beat around the bush, do they?

  25. emptywheel says:

    I’m working on a post on Poland and Romania. The tapes were either in Thailand or Poland. It’s clear that Abu Zubaydah (and KSM and Ramzi bin al-Shibh; don’t know about al-Nashiri, but I assume he was too) was in Poland from at least 2003 until 2005. What’s unclear is when they got to Poland–the program in Poland started in 2002, but I’m not sure when.

    So it’s possible the juggling of the prisoners involved primarily Poland (Romania had more junior AQ detainees, Poland had the 20 who were almost certainly tortured), but the destruction of the tape may have been Thailand or may have been Poland.

    Also note, in November 2005 Poland had just had an election to replace Kwasniewski, who was personally involved in the HVD program. So Priest’s article would have been a direct threat to Kwasniewski just as he was preparing to leave office.

    • klynn says:


      Have been doing some research on this. Would you like any info? In the meantime, you’ve probably read this little speech between Cheney and Basescu this past May.…..038;pbl=15

      I’ve mentioned the import of the Black Sea in regards to Iran and friends…Many disregard it. But this little speech re-highlights that import. Multiple layers going on here in addition to the tape destruction and detention sites.

      Then Bush met with Basescu in July 2006…

      And this is of interest:

      “Meanwhile, over at the SMH Gerard Ryle has, apart from finding out the same stuff as Crikey, been doing some digging into that George Teleman bloke I mentioned two weeks back. It turns out that Teleman did more than act on Equest’s behalf to set up Firepower’s Romanian deals. He was, in fact, the 90% owner of Firepower Romania, the other 10% owned from Australia. He was also, Ryle learned from the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, a close relative of a couple of Ceaucescus.

      Teleman also was a financial consultant to Regal, the company headed by the German Halliburton (now Firepower) chiefl Regal, Halliburton and Timmin’s (the bloke who was putting Australian money into Regal) Canadian company failed to get control of the privatisation of Romanian petroleum.

      Given the level of nepotism at play here you have to wonder at how high a level this activity is being co-ordinated. It now appears likely that the Halliburton chief was also acting as a “front”. If so Note could be acting for other powers than the Russian mob. So could Tinnis. The fact that after such chessmanship these gentlemen became the head honchos of Firepower suggests to me that there has been a stageplay under way.

      The name Dick Cheney springs to mind.

      If,as the Russians thought, Regal was funding the sabotage of the the gas pipeline to Romania, now apparently an opening move in a Halliburton-partnered national takeover, then you’re probably looking at a blatant example of Cheney manipulating local resources to maximise his profits.
      Would such a code of ethics have been applied to Australia? Perhaps somebody should ask Cheney when he comes to Australia in a couple of weeks to discuss Asian security and the War On Terror.”

      -from Richard Tonkin blog at

      I’m sure you are getting tons of information…Just found these a bit of an interest tweek…

    • Rayne says:

      NATO may be the unifying “tool” by which CIA negotiated all the logisitics, but the Council of EU was the body investigating torture. NATO could give a rat’s butt as far as I can tell.

      • emptywheel says:

        The Council of Europe was investigating the torture, which is not the EU, and has a lot less coercive power than the EU. But yes, NATO is the source of the legal infrastructure, importantly whereby the US prohibits collaborating countries to reveal details of our torture policy. But that makes it important bc if you’re looking for the payback that would get these countries to engage with us, that’s where you’d look. I agree that EU membership is one of the things that could be at risk if torture were discovered (though who’s going to complain? England? Germany? Italy? All complicit). But it’s not the only one, nor can you separate the risk from individual nation-state politics.

        • Rayne says:

          Which does explain why France was the country who made a fuss about one of the two (if not both countries Poland and Romania) joining the EU.

          I wonder whether NATO provides much data, though, given its complicity. I’m sure if anybody has it, you’ll be the one to publish it.

          In re: the plane N379P cited above — I don’t think I mentioned clearly that the AI report only showed one (1) flight to Thailand, into Bangkok. Wonder whether specific records were transported by hand over commercial flights…leaning more towards Poland, as a temporary facility, with Camp Bondsteel being a more likely ultimate destination since it’s a black hole.

        • phred says:

          (though who’s going to complain? England? Germany? Italy? All complicit)

          That’s the thing, if the Wikipedia entry is correct, individuals have standing to pursue charges if Article 3 of the ECHR is violated, not just states as is the case here in the US or under the Geneva Conventions as I understand it. If the EU was having trouble ratifying the Constitution, I don’t think it would have taken much (from a 2005 perspective) for a public outcry to derail things for Romania (or cause trouble for Poland — despite all appearances, I am keeping an open mind here ; )

          • Rayne says:

            EW asks,

            (though who’s going to complain? England? Germany? Italy? All complicit)

            Romano Prodi was the chair of EC through 30-OCT-04; took office as Italy’s PM in May 2006. Prodi is alleged to be “Putin’s boy”:

            Panorama has also obtained a document classified as Top Secret by the Italian government in which Litvinenko accuses Romano Prodi, Italy’s prime minister and former president of the European Commission, of being a friend of the KGB.

            Before his death Litvinenko collaborated with Scaramella on his KGB mole-hunt in Italy, feeding him with highly sensitive information on KGB operations.

            Scaramella tells Panorama that Litvinenko was warned off defecting to Italy.

            He said: “His idea when he left Moscow was to arrive in Italy and he mentioned a friend, a colleague in the secret service who told him that you cannot go to Italy because there are some big friends of Russia in this country.”

            But Italy, you’ll note, is the one EC/EU country which has been investigating and prosecuting the CIA (stupid users of cellphones) in regards to rendition. Why’d they break the mold, in spite of their likely complicity? Why was Prodi not in a position to do something as EC chair, but is now allowing the investigation/prosecution of CIA to go forward as PM d’Italia?

            • emptywheel says:

              In Prodi’s case, I think it’s self-defense. Sismi is loaded to the gills with people friendly to the nasty side of CIA. So by allowing the investigation, you undercut that side of Sismi.

    • skdadl says:

      the multinational organization of interest here is NATO, not the EU.

      You mean in terms of the original collaboration rather than any current investigations?

  26. mainsailset says:

    Thanks to Shoephone over at EvergreenPolitics for this


    Regarding the FOIA request and subsequent ACLU lawsuit: “According to the declaration of Sean Belcher who worked briefly for Jeppesen (a subsidiary of Boeing)…Bob Overby told new employees during an introductory breakfast that ‘we do all the extraordinary rendition flights’….’that’s just the way it is, we’re doing them, … and the rendition flights paid very well’.

    And then a later clip: ‘The flights have already been CONFIRMED by the Federal Aviation records.’

  27. phred says:

    Rayne, my review of the NY Times archive was not intended to be exhaustive. This was simply a hypothetical thought experiment, using Romania as an example. I was trying to imagine why a host country might be motivated to instigate the destruction of the tapes rather than the CIA. We’ve been looking at the question from a Bush-centric point of view, so I wanted to turn things around and see what things looked like from the perspective of a host country.

    EW looking forward to what you have to say about Poland and Thailand and NATO…

  28. Rayne says:

    I think we’re now at a point where we need flight logs. Note the kind of detail from Shannon Ireland.

    Somebody’s been keep track; anybody got suggestions on where to find compilations? If the Guardian article dd. 10-MAR-05 says there are a guesstimated 10,000 floating detainees, the traffic to the earliest sites and the most frequent sites could be good indicators.

  29. BayStateLibrul says:

    News from AP: Wicker to replace Lott…

    Suitable for framing?

    “Lott, 66, said he wants to spend more time with his family and to pursue other job opportunities, possibly teaching. He ruled out any health concerns, but said it’s time for a younger voice to represent Mississippi in the Senate.”

  30. Rayne says:

    mainsailset — yeah, I saw that, but I didn’t see actual logs.

    Amnesty Intl. has a report on the flight network that documents the planes they were using early on, has flights by quantity and city/state, includes the Boeing flights.

    Of the tracked planes, there is only one in the report that was recorded as flying into Thailand; here’s the detail on the plane:

    The Gulfstream V executive jet, variously registered as N379P, N8068V and N44982 has been the plane most often identified with known cases of rendition. AI has records of 590 landings and take offs between February 2001 and September 2005.

    Registration: registered in February 2000 by Premier Executive Transport Services; it was re-registered as N8068V at the beginning of 2004; and again re-registered as N44982 in December 2004 by Bayard Foreign Marketing, a phantom company registered in Oregon State since August 2003. No other aircraft were registered by Bayard Foreign Marketing. The aircraft was put up for sale in late 2005, and is now the property of a company based in Miami, Florida.6

    I don’t know how I had not heard about the Chicago Convention, either. [sigh] Logistics management was probably a trifle.

  31. klynn says:

    Got to love this…

    In this damning report for the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on the CIA’s secret detention centers, Rapporteur Dick Marty identifies two countries which allowed the CIA to operate “black prisons” and secret detention centers: Poland and Romania. And these were not just operations whereby the host countries were left in the dark about what was happening. These were “bilateral” arrangements between the CIA and Poland and/or Romania:

    “Yet none of these restrictive rules mitigates the fact that Poland and Romania, as host
    countries, were knowingly complicit in the CIA’s secret detention programme. When we sought
    confirmation from one of our sources in the CIA that these were bilateral (rather than unilateral) arrangements, and that every programme was carried out with the express authorisation of the relevant partner state, we received this emphatic response:

    ““One of the great enduring legacies of the Cold War, which has carried into these alliances, is
    that NATO countries don’t run unilateral operations in other NATO countries. It’s a tradition
    that is almost sacrosanct. We [the CIA] just don’t go trampling on other people’s turf,
    especially not in Europe.”” (P. 32).

  32. klynn says:

    Here’s more on the Trans-caspian gas pipeline and info on uranium deliveries…

    I think it’s an oil/uranium for black prisons kind of an agreement going on… EU/NATO countries all win on this and it reduces the Russian and ME threat…again a mighty game of chess…

    • Rayne says:

      Could be…but we’ve been up to our eyeballs in a new cold war, a global energy war, and some of what we are seeing related to energy is more closely aligned with that “warfare” than with the black sites. Cheney could have tried to implement two-fers, accruing benefits to Halliburton while furthering use of black sites, but I have a suspicion he’d try to firewall off business. Remember he’s already had a close call in re: corruption charges about Nigerian business deals, related to his role at Halliburtion.

      Larisa has already poked around about this in the past; there’s a possibility that the outing not only of Plame but Brewster & Jennings was a facet of this global energy war.

      All this gets too far afield, easier to stay focused on the single loose thread and keep pulling on it until we have the entire skein and a specific person missing a sweater. If only Sibel Edmonds was able to speak freely on the record; she says it’s ALL connected.

  33. klynn says:

    Are you going back to 1999 in terms of Poland? Cheney made some interesting overtures in 1999 that go back to the start of the war…

    Essentially, the realignment of the Cold War with oil as the “arms” race……..8;aid=3408

    Cheney was establishing boundaries for Iraq before 9-11, as we all know too well…


    Here’s his 1999 speech at the Institute of Petroleum in London. It’s a “WOW” in terms of everything we have experienced as a country…

    It may redefine this whole picture if you have not read it…

    I’m not too sure he would firewall off business. If he needed something to negotiate with, he would.

    Agreed on Sibel Edmonds. Agreed on staying with one thread context. Unfortunately, the more one researches the black prisons, the more the issues overlap. It cannot be helped at times…

    • emptywheel says:

      One of the most fascinating parts of the COE report I’ve read so far is the story of Jerzy Kos, who was in charge of the airport we brought the HVDs into Poland through, and then was in charge of a construction company doing business in Iraq. He was taken hostage by insurgents alleging he had ties to the CIA (uh huh) and we went in gangbusters to rescue him.

      So we’ve got (or had) a Polish construction magnate doing intell work in Iraq for us.

      • brendanx says:

        We’ve used Poland as an intermediary in Iraq several times in the past. A lot of Baghdad was probably built by Poles.

        I read Polish (with your Czech, you could probably read it, too), and it’s been pretty disgraceful how their press (bought, I presume) offers nary a peep about this story, particularly those fine dissidents at Gazeta Wyborcza (many of whom are signatories to various PNAC documents).

        I have a feeling the Post’s Craig Whitlock is working on this story. He has had bylines in Poland this year (elections, etc.).

      • Rayne says:

        Why not? The Poles are cheap, dirt cheap. In some cases, lower cost than Indians — like engineers for example.

        klynn (75) — yes, the 1999 stuff is no surprise, fits in the time frame when DeadEye was running Halliburton, and during timeframe in which “retrocommissions” were being paid for Nigerian businesses. He’s been at this for quite a while, and he’s filthy.

        There is one thing that most Americans have not wrapped their heads around, besides the fact we are engaged in a global energy war; the war finds the goal is not merely oil reserves, but natural gas. Gas is on par with petroleum in its strategic value; it has shaped a considerable amount of Cheney’s actions, along with those of Russia’s Putin. The poisoning of Litvinenko, the first “nuclear attack”, may well have been an attack against those attempting to manipulate Russia’s natural gas reserves and market, and may also have been sloppily performed because the goal was not merely removal of a critic, but a warning to someone. Ahem.

        The stakes are so high in this game of multinational, multi-level chess, that torture is nothing, a trifle.

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