John Brennan Gives Gonzales-Like Answer on Illegal Surveillance Program

Or perhaps worse than Alberto Gonzales.

At John Brennan’s speech today, Spencer asked a question I’ve been hoping to have clarified since the IG Report revealed that two departments Brennan managed were in charge of targeting for Bush’s illegal surveillance program.

So today I asked Brennan: in light of the IGs report, what was his role, if any, in the domestic surveillance activities of the Bush administration? Here’s his answer, in full:

I fulfilled all my responsibilities at NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] that I was asked to fulfill. And there are a number of different programs, some of which have come out in the press, some of which have not. Some of the things that have come out in the press have been inaccurate in terms of the representations there. And when I look back in terms of my service at the NCTC and those places I believe I fulfilled those responsibilities to the best of my abilities.

These issues related to the so-called domestic surveillance programs and other things — one of the things I mentioned, there’s a lot of hyperbole and misrepresentations about what actually happened. And a lot of times people go down certain roads believing reports as facts. And that’s not the case. So I’m not going to go into sort of what my role was in that instance because a lot of those activities are still considered classified and not in the public domain, irrespective of what the press reports might be out there.

Brennan is either conflating unspecified inaccurate press reports with the inspectors general report or he’s challenging the inspectors general report itself.

Brennan seems to be doing two things. First, he’s using the same tactic adopted by Gonzales when he dodged questions about Bush’s illegal spying program by playing semantics about whether there was one program or many. Gonzales claimed there was no disagreement about the program by segmenting off the actual wiretapping of targets from the data mining which–the IG Report seems to confirm–was the key issue in the dispute. By claiming the Terrorist Surveillance Program was distinct from the data mining, then, Gonzales got away with claiming under oath that there had been no dispute.

Here, Brennan is suggesting either that the aspects of the program that have come out in the press aren’t the aspects he was involved in, or that the reporting on it has been inaccurate. Or rather, "either" … "and/or." No matter which conjunction you use, he’s avoiding admitting he was involved in Bush’s illegal surveillance program by simply claiming the parts he was involved in haven’t been accurately portrayed, if they’ve been portrayed at all. 

But worse than Gonzales, Brennan is making an appeal to following orders. 

I fulfilled all my responsibilities at NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] that I was asked to fulfill. …  And when I look back in terms of my service at the NCTC and those places I believe I fulfilled those responsibilities to the best of my abilities.

We don’t really give a goddamn whether you fulfilled all the orders Dick Cheney gave you, Mr. Brennan. We want to know how many of those orders were illegal. How many of those orders did you know to be illegal?

  1. bmaz says:

    Yeah, I will grant the dude that he was following orders; that is kind of the point. It’s what those orders were and what you did in following them dude, that is the question.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks, went and took a look-see, apparently the MiFi device itself is Linux. Should be a piece of cake if one of the four blind mice is also on Linux.

          Your comment also explains the spec I read, that it supported five devices – that’s one pied piper piping and four rodents.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks! I’m hoping the convention center’s WiFi is adequate for the purposes…but if a pied piper were to have to do any digging in out of the way archives accompanied by a rodent or two, I can see where MiFi might be very, very helpful.

          Have been toying with getting mobile service, but still on the bubble about the reach and quality, as well as the amount of service to order. My locale for much of the next two weeks will be nominal for most cell providers, kind of weeds out the potential MiFi providers. And Linux would be a must for my purposes. I’ll be watching for your feedback on Verizon’s product.

  2. Garrett says:

    Does this make Brennan the “scary memo” author or signer?

    That whole section of the report comes across as odd and defensive and hinting about real problems in the threat assessment process.

    ODNI threat assessments were drafted by experienced NCTC personnel who prepared the documents in a memorandum style

    They were batshit crazy scary memos, but they always had proper to and from and subject lines and such?

    • Spencer Ackerman says:

      So this is the real confusing part of the IGs’ report, and I’d really suspect it’s deliberately obfuscatory. It says that TTIC and NCTC analysts prepared these threat assessments and then the heads of the intelligence community — DCIs Tenet, McLaughlin, Goss and later DNIs Negroponte and McConnell — signed them and passed them on up to the lawyers at DOJ for approval and then NSA for implementation. It skips over the specific role of the TTIC and NCTC director.

      But it’s just really, really hard to believe that TTIC/NCTC’s directors were just having their analysts loaned out to the overall intel chief and unaware of what was going on. When I Brennan about that, he gave the answer you see above. I gave him my card as he was leaving but I’m not exactly expecting his call…

        • Spencer Ackerman says:

          Yeah. Because of this line — “I’m not going to go into sort of what my role was in that instance because a lot of those activities are still considered classified and not in the public domain” — there was an internal Windy debate about whether the verb in my headline should be “suggests” or “confirms” w/r/t Brennan’s role in domestic surveillance. We ended up going the cautious route, and I think the quote speaks for itself.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think you’re right–confirms would be merited.

          Me, I thought I’d go further and accuse him of Gonzales-like parsing. I wish that was a tidier adjective, though.

        • Spencer Ackerman says:

          I don’t mean to suggest that I was on one side and my editors were on another. We all went back and forth, and ultimately I supported the “suggests” decision. Judgment call.

      • Rayne says:

        Have been stewing on this…wonder what the chances are that an analyst or analysts could have been appropriated to overall intel chief in a fashion which went around the chief, a la Haynes “outflanking” Mora in DOD.

        Like a Team B situation, perhaps with contract analysts?

        But I’m probably being too generous.

        • Spencer Ackerman says:

          That’s a great question — something I’ve never considered. Let me talk to some people about this.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          That would be completely at odds with the bureaucratic dynamic at the time. Brennan’s outfit was getting more powerful, adding staff and responsibilities. Letting your resources get poached for a program this central to the political core would be administrative fail of the highest order.

        • Rayne says:

          I believe counterterrorism was sucking up all the resources, but there are so many odd bits about the IG Report that I can’t help thinking the resources were not under a firm, well-documented chain of command with threat assessments and all other related documents fully accounted for.

          Like these three grafs (pg. 7 of the report):

          C. Threat Assessment Memoranda Supporting Authorization of the PSP

          The CIA initially prepared the threat assessment memoranda that were used to support the Presidential Authorization and periodic reauthorizations of the PSP. The memoranda documented intelligence assessments of the terrorist threats to the United States and to U.S. interests abroad from al-Qa’ida and affiliated terrorist organizations. These assessments were prepared approximately every 45 days to correspond with the President’s Authorizations of the PSP.

          The Director of Central Intelligence’s (DCI) Chief of Staff was the initial focal point for preparing the threat assessment memoranda. According to the former DCI Chief of Staff, he directed CIA terrorism analysts to prepare objective appraisals of the current terrorist threat, focusing primarily on threats to the U.S. homeland, and to document those appraisals in a memorandum. Initially, the analysts who prepared the threat assessments were not read into the PSP and did not know how the threat assessments would be used. CIA’s terrorism analysts drew upon all sources of intelligence in preparing these threat assessments.

          After the terrorism analysts completed their portion of the memoranda, the DCI Chief of Staff added a paragraph at the end of the memoranda stating that the individuals and organizations involved in global terrorism (and discussed in the memoranda) possessed the capability and intention to undertake further terrorist attacks within the United States. The DCI Chief of Staff recalled that the paragraph was provided to him initially by a senior White House ofiicial. The paragraph included the DCI’s recommendation to the President that he authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance activities under the PSP. CIA Office of General Counsel (OGC) attorneys reviewed the draft threat assessment memoranda to determine whether they contained sufficient threat information and a compelling case for reauthorization of the PSP. If either was lacking, an OGC attorney would request that the analysts provide additional threat information or make revisions to the draft memoranda.

          Emphasis mine. But is someone else adding their own emphasis? Why so much “initially”, “initial”, but no “subsequent” or “interim” until 2004? I’d have kicked this back at any subordinate who couldn’t be more specific about what happened when…unless that’s the point.

          And then this bit on pg. 8 of the report:

          In November 2004, Porter J. Goss became DCI and assumed responsibility for sigrning the memoranda. There were no occasions when the DCI or Acting DCI withheld their signatures from the threat assessment memoranda. The memoranda were co·signed by the Secretary of Defense, reviewed by the Attorney General, and delivered to the White House to be attached to the PSP Presidential Authorizations signed by the President.

          Again, emphasis mine. But were there other signatures required, which were withheld at any time? Here’s former spook and Bushite Goss, Rumsfeld signing, and Ashcroft not signing but reviewing…why didn’t Ashcroft have any issues with this stuff? or did he and he waved it on but didn’t sign? Or are they referring to Gonzales here AFTER Feb. 2005? It’s not at all clear.

          I could drive a 40-foot trailer through the holes in this report; doesn’t surprise me that Brennan is parsing through this patchwork.

    • Mary says:

      Or maybe they just want to point out that they were using a different template than John Yoo – whose:

      OLC torture assessments were drafted by experienced Addington sychophants who prepared the documents in a fairy tale style

  3. Petrocelli says:

    Too bad Spencer didn’t disguise himself to look like Chuck Wad or he’d get a full interview with Brennan.

  4. Hugh says:

    These issues related to the so-called domestic surveillance programs and other things — one of the things I mentioned, there’s a lot of hyperbole and misrepresentations about what actually happened. And a lot of times people go down certain roads believing reports as facts. And that’s not the case. So I’m not going to go into sort of what my role was in that instance because a lot of those activities are still considered classified and not in the public domain, irrespective of what the press reports might be out there.

    Alberto Gonzales? No, this sounds much more like Sarah Palin. “So-called” domestic surveillance programs and those conveniently vague “other things”. What was so-called about them? What other things? If there were exaggerations, what was the truth? “Believing reports” as in IG reports? news reports? what? as facts. And besides it is all classified although if any of it was illegal such classification would not be justified.

    The main point here is that Brennan does not dissociate himself from the excesses of the Bush years. All the rest of this is incoherent, obfuscatory gobblygook.

  5. Leen says:

    “some of which have come out in the press, some of which have not.”

    So in other words “move on”

    • bobschacht says:

      “some of which have come out in the press, some of which have not.”

      I read it differently than you do. My translation:
      “Heh. You sorry S.O.B., you don’t know the half of it, and you won’t find out about that other half from me.”

      I think he’s just thrown down the gauntlet to EW, the ACLU, EFF, and a few others.

      Bob in HI

  6. plunger says:

    Following orders doesn’t count for shit. Having quit a (high six figure) consulting-job-of-a-lifetime when crossed by the President of a Fortune 500 company who insisted that I follow his lying/immoral orders or be fired, I told him to fuck off.

    These goddamn immoral weasels who fall back on “I was just following orders” have zero moral authority in my book. Has history taught these people nothing? They have no right to work for us.

    If you can’t quit a job in protest to preserve your own personal integrity, you have none.

    • greenwarrior says:

      good for you.

      you’re not assuming brennan has some kind of integrity are you? his answer was deliberately tangentially related to the question.

  7. Teddy Partridge says:

    Brennan’s office should be asked if he’ll be filing a formal response to the IGs’ report. By the way, per TPM’s Obama ticktock, Brennan meets with the boss today at 4pm. I wonder if Spencer’s question will come up?

    • Spencer Ackerman says:

      I think this is about Obama’s upcoming Guadalajara trip. There’s going to be a big 5:30 WH briefing on it with Jones, Brennan, Froman and Restrepo.

  8. Leen says:

    Brennan’s response sounds a bit like one of Rumsfeld’s responses
    “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say weknow there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

    So I guess under Rumsfelds definition of what we know Brennnas response would fall under “unknown unknowns”

    Rumsfeld Brennan

    • Mary says:

      I can’t help but think of another Brennan

      The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.

      That’s Wm. J.
      Who also gave us:

      The concept of military necessity is seductively broad, and has a dangerous plasticity. Because they invariably have the visage of overriding importance, there is always a temptation to invoke security “necessities” to justify an encroachment upon civil liberties. For that reason, the military-security argument must be approached with a healthy skepticism.

  9. Mary says:

    I like his reference to “hyperbole.” Just how do you hyperbolize something like the hospital showdown? OTOH, I think it was his old boy, McConnell, who told us all that the telecoms who participated (most of them) would all be bankrupted if they were held to account.

    You know, his references to things that have come out in the press being inaccurate doesn’t have any qualifiers like “materially” or “substantively” or “substantially” etc. Just, “some of the things.”

    Some of the things that have come out in the press have been inaccurate in terms of the representations there.

    Some things can be important though. After all, it’s “some things” that sent Maher Arar into Syrian torture. “Some things” sent us to war in Iraq. Some things. It’s amazing how quickly some things replace someone in a discussion on accountability.

    So if they got someone’s name wrong, a date wrong, if they grossly misunderestimated, etc.

  10. alank says:

    Attackerman should’ve asked a specific question based on specific point in the IG report, in a lawyerly way. What he got for the question asked was bugger all. What kind of achievement is that? Whatever!

  11. wigwam says:

    As everyone knows, but I have to say it anyway, this pervaricating war-crimes advocate/apologist is the person whom Obama wanted to put in charge of the CIA.

    • MarkH says:

      I like Panetta, but if he was considering appointing an insider, then he probably had a choice between slime #1 or slime #2 or slimeball #3.

  12. Leen says:

    “We don’t really give a goddamn whether you fulfilled all the orders Dick Cheney gave you, Mr. Brennan. We want to know how many of those orders were illegal. How many of those orders did you know to be illegal?”

    Those would fall under “Unknown unknowns”

  13. SadButTrue says:

    If there’s such a thing as an intelligence community Olympics, Brennan should enter the duplicithon. His talents for parsing the simplest sentence to death and for splitting a hair into multiple distinct strands are world class.

  14. WilliamOckham says:

    Spencer Ackerman rocks.

    John Brennan is a weasel.

    I realize that doesn’t add much to the conversation, but I just had to say it.

    • klynn says:

      You know it is a good day when you read that WilliamOckham has used the words “rock” as an adjective (and compliment) and weasel as a…well, you know…all in one short comment.

      Thanks for the chuckle WO.

      And the fact that it came up at the same time as Spencer’s comment @ 45 is just too funny.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        And one more thing…

        The Washington Independent is the only newspaper from DC worth reading. I’ll take Ackerman, Daphne Eviatar, and David Weigel over any 3 WaPo reporters. Cuz with the WaPo you get Dana Priest and …. who else? Barton Gellman is still listed with them, but he’s published exactly one article this year and only two in 2008. Walter Pincus’s stuff has been pretty blah recently. Tom Ricks’ best stuff is published elsewhere. Think about the difference in resources between those two institutions. And people wonder why the traditional media is dying.

  15. WilliamOckham says:

    In your question, you referenced the IGs report. The first words out of Brennan’s mouth were:

    I fulfilled all my responsibilities at NCTC…

    I think that’s pretty clear. He drew the connection between his responsibilities and the IGs report. It’s an indirect, but obvious admission that he was involved. Then, he pulls the bait and switch by referring to “inaccurate” press reports. I’d like to remind him that the only inaccuracies in press reports revealed by the IGs report was that it was worse than the press reports said.

    • skdadl says:

      May I just say ditto.

      I’m still catching up on a week’s worth of brilliance here after surviving a moving experience, but when I read something like that first line of Brennan’s, I lose my temper. What went wrong in North America that we raised so many people who do not hear the awful echo? How can that man have a position of any public responsibility at all?

      I am absurdly happy in my new town, a place that I think would be especially dear to EW’s heart. I’m also tired and sore and confused, but teh kittehs and I are having a wonderful time, and y’all are welcome whenever.

      • Petrocelli says:

        ((( Skdadl )))

        Glad to hear the move went well and that you’re all enjoying your new home !

        • skdadl says:

          Hugs back, Petro. I love it, just love it all, especially the people. I feel so lucky.

          However, I am now reading Brennan, and he just had the nerve to mention Somalia. Most of what I know about Somalia I know through the International Crisis Group, immensely distinguished and usually very polite people, and I can tell Mr Brennan, if he doesn’t already know, that on a good day, under best conditions, over tea and crumpets, anyone from the ICG would tell him that the CIA has totally screwed up in Somalia, totally utterly and hopelessly — there is simply nothing they could do to make it right except to get out and let some smart grown-ups step in (and there are smart grown-ups in place).

          That WaPo report reads like the raw material for a Graham Greene novel. I wonder whether Brennan or Obama has ever read Graham Greene, because they are just reproducing disaster.

        • Mary says:

          because they are just reproducing disaster

          It has that feel, doesn’t it? There’s an AP story up about McChrystal and Holbrooke getting around to calling up some Vietnam scholars because, 8 years into all this it occurs to someone that maybe we should try to avoid “the mistakes of Vietnam.” Chief of which was staying in Vietnam I believe, not that I can claim scholarly titles to prove it.

        • Mary says:


          Given Obama’s desire to avoid a “partisan” approach, though, I wouldn’t rule out Calley’s name from popping up.

          OT – Wired’s Danger Room has a story up about Raytheon managing to get a “commercial sale” of it’s pain ray that microwaves skin, eyeballs and blood.

          So although the military looked into picking this up for its arsenal,

          the Defense Science Board conclu[ded] that deployment was “not politically tenable” because of a possible association with torture. This would be particularly true if the weapon was used at detention centers, and a recent Government Accountability Office report indicated that the attempts to get the ADS to Iraq have now been discontinued.

          But Oh Goody, they’ve found a commercial buyer. Who the hell is allowed to own something like that!

        • bmaz says:

          the Defense Science Board conclu[ded] that deployment was “not politically tenable” because of a possible association with torture. This would be particularly true if the weapon was used at detention centers, and a recent Government Accountability Office report indicated that the attempts to get the ADS to Iraq have now been discontinued.

          But Oh Goody, they’ve found a commercial buyer. Who the hell is allowed to own something like that!

          What, are you a rookie here or something? Blackwater/Xe, Triple Canopy and KBR baybee!!

        • Mary says:

          I think I am a rookie.

          Silly me, I saw a headline, “Two Senators Force Showdown Over GITMO Detainees” and I thought – hey, maybe Frakt’s testimony lit a fire. Then I clicked through and the real headline from The Hill was actually Brownback, Roberts Force Showdown Over GITMO Detainees.

          At which point I realized I had wasted a click.
          rookie rookie rookie damnit

        • Mason says:

          Mary and bmaz: the link @ 86 is all that I found out. Got it from a good friend at the Federal Defender. They aren’t involved and she didn’t know anything about the trial and mistrial.

        • bmaz says:

          Link was bad, but I am pretty sure I know basically what it says. I was noodling around some local SeaTac sources yesterday or day before. Best as I could tell, it really was in the local Federal court as opposed to state/local.

        • Rayne says:

          Blackwater/Xe, Triple Canopy and KBR baybee!!

          Additional reasons why this “pain ray” should be banned for sale, period. Blackwater/Xe has already proven they are willing to violate any limitations placed on weapons, and if they are prohibited from having them, so should any other private military company/private security company.

          This is a product which should be banned as it could be used to blind targets. Blinding lasers have already been the subject of discussion in the last 15 years as ban-worthy; a microwave-based weapon should be as well for similar reasons.

        • Rayne says:

          I think you might want to look at how much JSOC did to f*ck up Somalia versus CIA. See this article from 2007, keeping in mind Cheney’s “assassination squad.”

          And also ask yourself exactly what HRC is doing in Kenya while talking about Somalia…smells like cleaning products from here…

        • Rayne says:

          No prob. I suspect there’s a turf war going on, at least three factions: white hat CIA, black hat CIA, Cheney’s JSOC-types. White hats were made to look very bad by the other two and were already underground because of Roberts’ purge. JSOC were cowboys who f*cked up so-called covert ops (they really can’t be covert because they’re military and not intel, deniability is not an option), making all intel look bad by association.

          And at any time there were contract people floating in and out of two of these groups, who could also make white hats look bad.

          This recent disclosure of Cheney’s assassination squad undisclosed to Congress is another example; all the details one can readily find indicate that JSOC was already doing the death squad thing, and that Congress wasn’t told about the CIA, but no indication if they were told about JSOC’s ops.

          Which is why I asked upthread about a Team B or outflanking. It seems to have been a very common occurrence in the last adminstration to use redirection.

        • skdadl says:

          lol, Loo Hoo. I’m a few towns away from where I was. I don’t mean to be coy, but I’m feeling more careful about publishing my location than I used to. I’m still in Great Lakeistan (forget what EW calls us all). On a clear day I can’t quite see the U.S. from my kitchen, but if anyone down there rears his/her head, I’m an early line of defence. *wink*

  16. PJEvans says:

    I fulfilled all my responsibilities at NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] that I was asked to fulfill.

    That’s the sort of generality you put in your self-evaluation for the HR people when you can’t answer the question honestly.
    Next question: Did you fulfill responsibilities that were not asked for by NCTC, but by others? Did you not fulfill responsibilities that were asked by others?

    Did you do anything but push papers (or not push papers, as appropriate) on behalf of the WH and Cheney?

  17. x174 says:

    Brennan has obviously been brushing up on his equivocating skills but what caught my eye in his information poor verbiage was this:

    “I’m not going to go into sort of what my role was”

    i would normally have guessed that such a “sort of” may be an error in the transcript but it is consistent with the over-all intent to obfuscate the specifics.

    what could such an expression mean: “sort of what my role was”? what i think it points to (if it’s not just Brennan’s over-abundance of equivocating terminology) is that the activities that people were engaged in were probably not well defined–other than knowing that what they were doing was patently illegal.

    nevertheless, the sentence construction involved in stating that you are not going to go into “sort of what [your] role was” is odd.

    • Mason says:

      I daresay, old chap. Funny you should ask. Killing and torture were sort of what my roles were.

      Q: How do you sort of kill or torture someone?

      A: Which do you mean? There is a difference you know, sort of.

      Q: How do you sort of kill someone?

      A: You bloody well torture them.

      Q: How do you sort of torture someone.

      A: Are you daft? You kill them.

  18. whitewidow says:

    I heartily concur, and with your 46, and would add that I’m glad to see some of the big lefty blogs linking to them more often.

  19. fatster says:

    Just got a (mass) email from ACLU with the message “Forward the Tortured Logic video to Attorney General Eric Holder now, and ask him to appoint an independent prosecutor.” Most likely everyone here received the same email, but if you haven’t heard about it and want to participate, go here:

  20. WTFOver says:

    Turning the US army against Americans

    An antiwar activist has been accused of spying for the US army, raising legal questions the Obama administration must answer…..washington

    The US Army is investigating an anti-war group’s claim that it was infiltrated by a civilian employee of Fort Lewis in violation of federal law barring the Army from conducting domestic law enforcement.…..eillance_2

  21. whitewidow says:

    OT – why doesn’t this surprise me about Hadley?

    We hear there’s a story of how Rove spoofed the overly formal national security adviser Stephen Hadley’s penchant for eating off a silver platter at late-night work sessions, while everyone else had cafeteria trays, by serving Hadley himself with a silver tray.…..01874.html

  22. Mason says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you pups, but today felt like I was wearing a blue uniform at the Little Big Horn.

  23. x174 says:

    appreciate your going through some of the IG report and flagging some of its peculiarities.

    from just glancing through the unclassified report, it seems as though the narrative arc is rather superficial. in terms of prose style and handling of the content it reminds me of the 9/11 (C)ommision Report: written as though it was written for someone with a learning disability: it’s all rather self-evident: these activities were done to protect the nation against terrorism.

    it’s amazing how many things need to find cover under the skirt of “the post-9/11 world” scenario.

    the first thing that i would do is look at what activities–purportedly initiated following 9/11–were actually conducted before it.

    the second thing would be to come up with an alternative narrative/timeline that was based on information obtained independent of the report.

    then i would compare the narratives and see what seemed to jive and what didn’t.

    lastly, i’d see how much of what didn’t jive with the self-constructed narrative was intrinsically related to activities conducted before 9/11. (also it might be fun to see if there are any inconsistencies between the IG report and the 9/11 (c)ommission report).

    derridean deconstruction might identify & isolate the inconsistencies and unravel the whole thing. often all you need is one loose thread (like “initially” ) and just start pulling on it.

  24. fatster says:

    Hearts and minds, etc.

    Afghan police: US airstrike kills farmers
    By NOOR KHAN and AMIR SHAH (AP) – 19 hours ago

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — “A local police chief says a Western airstrike has killed five farmers loading cucumbers into a taxi in southern Afghanistan.

    “A U.S. spokeswoman says the five were militants placing explosives in a van.”


    • Leen says:

      Yesterday on Talk of the Nation they did a show on the situation in Afghanistan.the disregard expressed towards the lives of Afghani’s who have died was alarming but seems par for the course these days. One of the guest referred to the “5000″ deaths of civilians between 2006 and 2009 as “quite small”. Demonstrates once again the arrogance and cold hearted attitudes of some in the military and host on talk radio.

      Can you imagine someone ireferring to those who have died on 9/11 as a
      “small amount”

      During the program NeilConan said “civilian deaths” are to be expected with such a dismissive attitude it turned my stomach

      Civilian casualties…..hp?prgId=5

      It was really interesting to hear Neil Conan object and call into question the numbers of deaths in Iraq as questionable. He threw up a challenge.

      I have yet to hear Neil Conan object when guest repeat the unsubstantiated claims that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

      Have never heard Neil challenge people when they say Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map” Professor Juan Cole debunked that alleged statement long ago. Yet we hear Neil and many other talking heads including Rachel Maddow allow it to be repeated over and over again

      • fatster says:

        It is disheartening, Leen, and that’s where they want us. It does get overwhelming sometimes, but we simply must dust ourselves off and keep moving forward. HITYLHMIHTP?

  25. x174 says:

    here’s a nice little tid-bit on the possible earlier history of those “legally unsupported,” “certain Other Intelligence Activities” (IG Report 29):

    What the NSA is doing with its massive and growing capabilities is still a secret, but it’s probably an extension of DoD efforts at mapping social networks that extend back to the early part of the decade.…..orking.ars

    (ars technica 23 july 2009)

  26. x174 says:

    An intelligence vacuum in Washington
    By Ritt Goldstein

    here’s an interesting article in view of the EFF’s law-suit (linked above):

    “The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board (PIAB) provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, counter-intelligence, and other intelligence activities. The PIAB, through its Intelligence Oversight Board, also advises the President on the legality of foreign intelligence activities.” – White House website.

    The United States’ Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and other relevant intelligence executives are required by executive order to report regularly to the board, which was recently confirmed as existing without any members.…..6Ak02.html
    Asia Times 16 July 2009

  27. x174 says:

    how about this “blast from the past” (circa 1981):

    The United States intelligence effort shall provide the President
    and the National Security Council with the necessary information on
    which to base decisions concerning the conduct and development of
    foreign, defense and economic policy, and the protection of United
    States national interests from foreign security threats. All
    departments and agencies shall cooperate fully to fulfill this

    What caught my eye in this national security proviso is the apparent integration in the decision-making regarding: foreign, defense and economic policy as well as national interests from foreign security threats.

    The beautiful thing about this document is the way–after initially stipulating that it must be constitutional, legal, blah, blah, blah– states that it must comport with the National Security Act of 1947:

    Timely and accurate information about the activities,
    capabilities, plans, and intentions of foreign powers,
    organizations, and persons, and their agents, is essential to the
    national security of the United States. All reasonable and lawful
    means must be used to ensure that the United States will receive
    the best intelligence available. For that purpose, by virtue of
    the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the
    United States of America, including the National Security Act of
    1947, as amended (see Short Title note above)

    EO 12333
    4 December 1981

  28. x174 says:

    Initial Analysis:

    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this National Security Act of 1947.

    To wit:

    The National Security Council (NSC) was established
    by the National Security Act of 1947 (see Short Title note above)
    to advise the President with respect to the integration of
    domestic, foreign and military policies relating to the national
    security. The NSC shall act as the highest Executive Branch entity
    that provides review of, guidance for and direction to the conduct
    of all national foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and
    special activities, and attendant policies and programs.
    Executive Order 12333 1.2

  29. dickdata says:

    In regards to the surveillance programs that Brennen oversaw: you have never heard that Obama administration claim that they have discontinued any of the surveillance programs that were in place when they took office. I believe that it is unlikely that the Bush administration shut down any of those programs. So, by deduction, I believe that those programs continue.

    • Mary says:

      Spencer Ackerman and Marc Ambinder have had some follow up




      From the Ambinder piece, we do get this:

      we’ve heard next to nothing from any Obama administration official about whether their campaign-era perception of the NSA programs comported with the reality they found once in office. The only thing I’ve been able to glean is that the President is fascinated by the details the NSA manages to place in his PDB

      As long as it give him the opportunity to finger steeple and look contemplative, what more can we ask of the unconstitutional parent of FISA felonious spawn?

  30. x174 says:

    From an earlier thread Gitcheegumee wrote on August 6th, 2009 at 7:03 am

    FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Subpoenaed, Set to ‘Break’ Gag Order Unless DoJ Intercedes

    Read more:

    One of the bombshells that Sibel Edmonds revealed recently was that Osama bin Laden was still working for the US up until 9/11. “Sort of” opens up a whole new narrative of what the US was up to before 9/11. It also helps explain how Al Qaeda got away during Operation Anaconda:

    “Relations [between US and Britain] were further soured with reports from a number of publications that Osama bin Laden might have escaped due to a substantial delay from the original H-hour of the deployment of American Forces. “…..n_Anaconda

    Thus far: 1) US (intelligence) activities before 9/11 include activities authorized by the National Security Act of 1947 and 2) the conspiracy and complicity regarding US involvement with OBL (according to Sibel Edmonds).

    • fatster says:

      I do hope she’ll be able to talk and to tell us, if not all she knows, at least enough that we can more accurately assess the importance and implications of it.