Poppy Bush Not Joining Other DCIs Opposing Investigation of W Bush’s Torture

There are a number of fascinating details in this letter from seven former living CIA Directors opposing DOJ’s torture investigation–starting with the fact that Poppy is one of just two three living CIA heads who didn’t sign (the others are Carter’s Stansfield Turner and close Poppy ally Robert Gates who, as Secretary of Defense, also has to weigh how our torture puts service men and women at risk). (h/t Ambinder)

Michael Hayden
Porter Goss
George Tenet
John Deutch
R. James Woolsey
William Webster
James R. Schlesinger

But that’s not all.

Note that these men are asking the President to intervene in a DOJ investigation.

We respectfully urge you to exercise your authority to reverse Attorney General Holder’s August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations that took place following the attacks of September 11.

They’re not asking Obama to pardon those CIA officers under investigation, which would be a proper request of the President; they’re asking Obama to spike an investigation the Attorney General has deemed necessary. They are, in short, asking for legal process to be set aside for, ultimately, a political decision.

And they’re making that request by appealing to an investigation conducted under a prior Attorney General–Alberto Gonzales–still (as far as we know) under investigation for politicizing DOJ.

The post-September 11 interrogations for which the Attorney General is opening an inquiry were investigated four years ago by career prosecutors.

They’re further making that request by appealing to a US Attorney–Paul McNulty–also involved in that politicization.

Career prosecutors under the supervision of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia determined that one prosecution (of a CIA contractor) was warranted.

So they pile up political interference on top of political interference. Now, these former DCIs repeat the term "career prosecutor" four times. And it may well be the case that–unlike some other cases under Alberto Gonzales–there was no interference here.  But they ignore one of the precipitating causes for the investigation being reopened: The Office of Public Responsibility’s finding that there was serious misconduct involved with the referrals in these cases (the DCIs say there were fewer than 20).

It has been known that the Justice Department ethics report had criticized the authors of the legal opinions and, in some cases, would recommend referrals to local bar associations for discipline.

But the internal inquiry also examined how the opinions were carried out and how referrals of possible violations were made — a process that led ethics investigators to find misconduct serious enough to warrant renewed criminal investigation. 

Of course, the misconduct involved in those referrals may well implicate the two DCIs who served during those referrals: George Tenet and Porter Goss. Which might be why the DCIs make this claim, in a letter that’s supposed to  be about ongoing legal jeopardy for the officers who conducted the torture.

Moreover, there is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.

They don’t explain what the problem is with a criminal investigation that has an expanded focus, mind you (again, they ignore OPR’s finding of misconduct in referrals themselves). It just is bad, I guess, if you’re a DCI who oversaw such activities.

From there, the former DCIs just make shit up. They claim, notably, that those being investigated will be subject to huge legal bills by Holder’s decision.

Not only will some members of the intelligence community be subjected to costly financial and other burdens from what amounts to endless criminal investigations, but this approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country.

As a threshold matter, the Detainee Treatment Act by law provides for the legal representation of those officers who conducted act that were "officially authorized and determined to be lawful at the time that they were conducted." (h/t Spencer) And Goss and Hayden must know this, as they were both in intelligence leadership positions when DTA was passed (indeed, Goss was involved in some of the meetings at which McCain was pressured to put this clause in DTA).

But even assuming some of the officers who might be investigated here didn’t act pursuant to orders, the CIA has already said it’s going to pay everyone’s legal bills. So no one is going to be subject to costly financial burdens. Yes, they might think twice before they break the law, even if they’ve got a Yoo memo protecting them. 

And the problem is???

The DCIs go on to argue that the investigation will release information that will make it easier for al Qaeda to elude intelligence officers.

But, the administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help Al Qaeda elude US intelligence and plan future operations. Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks.

Just last week, a bunch of spooks close to Cheney’s hagiographer were announcing they want more of this information to be out. Perhaps they’re just different spooks, but it seems the intelligence community can’t agree on whether the release of more information hurts or helps their cause.

Besides … who said an investigation would end in the release of more information on the torture methods in the first place? Are they assuming the investigation is bound to end in a trial? And are they suggesting such a trial would somehow be devoid of all CIPA process? 

And the DCIs ignore CIPA when they make this claim, too:

As a result of the zeal on the part of some to uncover every action taken in the post-9/11 period, many countries may decide that they can no longer safely share intelligence or cooperate with us on future counter-terrorist operations. They simply cannot rely on our promises of secrecy.

I guess as DCIs, some of whom oversaw the criminal referrals which OPR has determined involved serious misconduct, have forgotten that some of these same allies also hold us to international laws that require us to investigate torture allegations. 

Now, the letter from the DCIs is transparently wrong on several counts. Mostly, though, I find it sad. I mean, do they really think Obama doesn’t know that CIA has already agreed to pay legal fees for those under investigation? Do they really expect Obama–who has overseen egregious claims of state secrets in court cases–will dispose of all CIPA process?

And most of all, consider their execution. Seven former spooks-in-chief, and not one of them understands how Friday night news dumps work? (Actually, we know at least Tenet knows this, having pulled off a rather famous Friday night news dump on July 11, 2003). 

They say CIA trade craft has gotten bad. But a misuse of a Friday night news dump like this is really just sad.

Update, via Spencer: Eerily, I seem to have hit precisely the same issues as DOJ.

The Attorney General works closely with the men and the women of intelligence community to keep the American people safe and he does not believe their commitment to conduct that important work will waver in any way.

Given the recommendation from the Office of Professional Responsibility as well as other available information, he believed the appropriate course of action was to ask John Durham to conduct a preliminary review. That review will be narrowly-focused and will be conducted by a career prosecutor who has shown an ability to handle cases involving classified information. Durham has not been appointed as a special prosecutor; he will be supervised by senior managers at the Department.

The Attorney General’s decision to order a preliminary review into this matter was made in line with his duty to examine the facts and to follow the law. As he has made clear, the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. [my emphasis]

Update: I screwed up the names and numbers of former DCIs not on this list. I think I’ve got it correct now. Thanks to JimWhite and bmaz for earlier corrections.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

113 replies
  1. scribe says:

    Why is it that I am impelled to think that Hayden, Goss and Tenet have decided they need some level of help (for themselves) vis-a-vis the investigations and they went out and talked to some other Villagers to get it?

    Remember, Woolsey was on the board of that organization whose wingnut welfare recipient wrote at length about how great it would be for America and the World if Bushie and Deadeye just went and declared themselves President-for-Life and Vice-President-for-Life and how it would be like Augustus Caesar had descended on a cloud to run the world from the White House and An Undisclosed Location. ( Found it!)

    These clowns are all politics-above-law and might not have gotten the memo that the rules are, slowly, changing away from that.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    These seven former DCI’s seem to know that any credible investigation will necessarily involve and reveal information about torture. Torture is a crime under US and foreign laws.

    Only inside the Beltway would that circumstance – torture bubbling just beneath the surface of significant, major, recent intelligence activities – support an argument NOT to investigate. On this side of the looking glass, their argument validates the need for a more thorough investigation rather than for a narrower one or none at all.

  3. brendanx says:

    emptywheel,

    Sorry to repost, but I want to be sure you get this:

    emptywheel,

    OT (NJ):

    This is a comment from an acquaintance:

    Republican committee members once again put off the confirmation of Paul Fishman for US Attorney in NJ, which was scheduled for yesterday. I’m wondering what the political angle is – the confirmation process has been postponed several times, and Fishman was nominated at the very beginning of Obama’s term. I suspect the repubs are trying to postpone his actually assuming the position at the USAO in NJ until after the gubernatorial election because of what he might find there, or because he will actually produce documents responsive to the outstanding FOIA requests.

  4. Peterr says:

    In their use of the refrain “career prosecutors,” I suppose these DCIs must have missed the whole raft of other career folks who refused to go along with torture as an interrogation tool.

    Maybe Digby can remind them. Her concluding paragraph says it all:

    The issue here is that there were people in the government who raised objections, serious objections. Most importantly, the FBI raised objections and they were the government experts on the subject. (Remember, until the Bush administration the CIA was not responsible for interrogations.) The idea the “everybody” lost their heads after 9/11 simply because they were desperately trying to keep the boogeyman from killing us all in our beds is simply not true. There were grown-ups around. They just weren’t listened to.

    And Hayden & Co still don’t want anyone to listen to them.

    • Mary says:

      The biggest thing to remember right now about “career prosecutors” is that they are people who voluntarily continued to work for a torture regime, years after the Gonzales memo of Jan 2002 and the Abu Ghraib scapegoating and Maher Arar’s and Khalid el-Masris suits and Dilawar’s killing etc.

      I know a lot who say that some “good guys” stayed on to try to “hold the line” but the truth is, only certain kinds of people are ok working for a torture regime rather than making a noisy withdrawal instead. Those ware the people who are career prosecutors for DOJ. Tie that in with bmaz’ post on what has been happening with police powers domestically, and you don’t get a pretty picture. Then add in the complete wanton disregard for lies to courts and Congress that has been encouraged, not just by the Executive branch but also by courts and Congress via their inaction, and the formulation for “career proseuctor” isn’t what it was, once upon a time.

      Then add in the 8 years worth of hiring “loyal Bushies” for career positions.

  5. JimWhite says:

    Perhaps this might have something to do with Poppy’s silence; from Lawrence Walsh’s report on Iran-Contra [emphasis added]:

    Four CIA officials were charged with criminal offenses — George, the deputy director for operations and the third highest-ranking CIA official; Clarridge, chief of the European Division; Fiers; and Fernandez. George was convicted of two felony counts of false statements and perjury before Congress. Fiers pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. The four counts of obstruction and false statements against Fernandez were dismissed when the Bush Administration refused to declassify information needed for his defense. Clarridge was awaiting trial on seven counts of perjury and false statements when he, George and Fiers were pardoned by President Bush.

    Walsh also specifically addressed this problem with CIPA:

    Independent Counsel also addresses the problem of implementing the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) in cases steeped in highly classified information, such as many of the Iran/contra prosecutions. Under the Act, the attorney general has unrestricted discretion to decide whether to declassify information necessary for trial, even in cases in which Independent Counsel has been appointed because of the attorney general’s conflict of interest. This discretion is inconsistent with the perceived need for independent counsel, particularly in cases in which officers of the intelligence agencies that classify information are under investigation. This discretion gives the attorney general the power to block almost any potentially embarrassing prosecution that requires the declassification of information. Independent Counsel suggests that the attorney general implement standards that would permit independent review of a decision to block a prosecution of an officer within the Executive Branch and legitimate congressional oversight.

    Poppy can’t talk about it this time around. Wouldn’t be prudent. He’s already done precisely what the other former DCI’s are suggesting and he didn’t look pretty doing it, especially when he had to clean up the mess later with pardons anyway.

    • bmaz says:

      Poppy also respects the Presidential tradition and would not involve himself in such a letter directly to Obama seeking to have him exercise inappropriate control over prosecutorial discretion at the DOJ. I bet he literally turned and fled when approached with this.

      • drational says:

        Plus avoidance of the clear conflict of interest/drama in using your heft to bail your son out of trouble, again. With seven signers, why complicate the arguments by adding a voice that could be interpreted as another familial bailout (National Guard, Yale, Rangers, etc).

        • perris says:

          With seven signers, why complicate the arguments by adding a voice that could be interpreted as another familial bailout (National Guard, Yale, Rangers, etc).

          this makes a little bit of sense to me but it’s not complete, pop has the cover of the other cia heads, if he were alone then this could be the case but amoung more then half dozen I think he’s got cover to join

    • NoOneYouKnow says:

      Have a look at a more detailed recounting of Poppy’s actions during and after Iran/Contra: Google “Chip Tatum.” Very, very juicy stuff. I wonder if the rest of these DCIs are opposing the investigation on the premise that investigating any sort of CIA criminality is potentially a very bad thing for them. After all, ignoring domestic and foreign law and treaties is their bread and butter.

  6. WTFOver says:

    National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Pursuing Ethics Complaint Against Torture Lawyer William J. Haynes II to California Supreme Court

    State Bar Refused to Investigate Former Pentagon Lawyer Haynes

    http://www.nlgsf.org/news/view.php?id=118

    The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) filed a petition with the California Supreme Court this week asking it to review the decision by the State Bar not to investigate William J. Haynes II. Haynes, now an attorney with the Chevron Corporation in San Ramon, used his position as a lawyer in the Department of Defense to advocate for torture and illegal treatment of detainees in military custody during the Bush presidency. Despite voluminous evidence that Haynes has violated California’s rules of professional conduct that all attorneys must follow, the State Bar has maintained that the NLGSF complaint is closed without prejudice to reopening.

    “The Bar seems to be punting this one,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. “They forwarded our complaint to bar associations in other states and indicated that investigations elsewhere might yield evidence they can act upon; but Haynes is practicing law in California and the State Bar needs to protect the people of California from lawyers like him.”

    • bmaz says:

      This is exactly what I predicted would happen with the much ballyhooed series of activist bar complaints. State bars want no part of this stuff and will not get involved unless the OPR submits to them.

      • Peterr says:

        So Bar Associations don’t really give a damn about ethics and canons, bmaz? It’s all about how much juice you’ve got?

        Why does this remind me of the priest abuse scandals?

    • Mary says:

      I still think about a day when Canadians decide to tell Pepsico that they’d just as soon not buy off a company whose Gen Counsel was directly involved in shipping a Canadian to torture.

        • Mary says:

          Nothing. That I know of at least. But Larry Thompson has been their General Counsel since early 2004, after he signed off on shipping Arar to Syria. I always thought it would cause some kind of comment, at least in Canada if not here, but it doesn’t seem to have. After 5 1/2 years and Thompson getting pretty close to retirement, it would be a pretty futile gesture now anyway. But I’m always a sucker for a futile gesture.

          It’s amazing all the pieces on Thompson
          http://www.superlawyers.com/ne…..0f317.html
          (Hands off my Larry?) that go on and on about him, but never mention his sign off on Arar’s shipment to Syria. It’s hard to get good links to discussions, since a google that takes you to several history commons links gives you error reports when you click through, and older stories like this one
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ge=printer
          by Dana Priest (Top Justice Aide Approved Sending Suspect to Syria) are pretty sparse in what still is easy to access, online.

          • skdadl says:

            Arar’s case is the one (of many equally deserving cases) that has broken through in popular consciousness here, partly because Justice O’Connor’s inquiry was so public and so good, and then partly because Arar is an immensely attractive and obviously admirable person.

            Your public face here re Arar — your puzzling public face — is State, first Condi and now Hillary. The insistence on continuing to demonize Arar (and that does continue) looks sheerly perverse to anyone paying attention. What’s that principle in law — the longer it goes on, the worse the offence?

            We have our own bastards, and if our current government had been in power when Arar was kidnapped, he’d still be in Damascus, or he’d be dead. There are at least a score of cases, probably more, that they refuse to face up to, Khadr’s being the only one that most citizens would recognize much, and a case that is easily manipulated in right-wing propaganda.

            I often wonder of our bastards why it seems to offend them so deeply that some of us defend innocent people against state power. Even guilty people cannot, must not be tortured, but I think that our bastards know that we’re not usually talking about guilty people … and even so, it bothers them that anyone should question their power or that of their buddies elsewhere, especially in the U.S. I will never understand that mindset.

  7. WilliamOckham says:

    The first four on the list are implicated and Woolsey is just crazy, but I wonder how they got Webster and Schlesinger to sign on that steaming pile. Those guys must be getting old and senile. They should know better.

    • MadDog says:

      The first four on the list are implicated and Woolsey is just crazy, but I wonder how they got Webster and Schlesinger to sign on that steaming pile…

      Ah grasshopper, tis so simple. You may remember that James Schlesinger was the head toady of the other steaming pile of…ahmmm…whitewash entitled:

      Final Report of the Independent Panel to Review DoD Detention Operations (126 page PDF) otherwise known as the “Abu Ghraib Report”.

      A few tsk, tsks here, and a few tsk, tsks there, were all the serious punishments of higher-ups that Schlesinger and Co. could manage squeak out.

      As for complicity, I hear tell that covering up crimes after the fact is also a crime all unto itself.

      If Schlesinger and Co. actually did their work properly, then they know where the bodies are buried because they helped bury them.

      If Schlesinger and Co. didn’t do their work properly, then they were deliberately whistling past the graveyard where the bodies are buried.

      • MadDog says:

        And one might wonder how and when James Schlesinger came to change his mind from page 8 of that previously quoted report (126 page PDF):

        …Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed the members of the Independent Panel to provide independent professional advice on detainee abuses, what caused them and what actions should be taken to preclude their repetition…

        …However, the Panel did not have full access to information involving the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in detention operations; this is an area the Panel believes needs further investigation and review

        (My Bold)

        So then, Schlesinger saw further investigations of the CIA as good.

        And now, Schlesinger sees further investigations of the CIA as bad.

        I’m guessing Schlesinger knows full well just how those bodies will stink if they are unburied.

    • Styve says:

      Hey…I looked up Deutch’s background, and saw something about him being pardoned by Clinton for violation of rules regarding classified information. Is that enough to “persuade” him to join their cause, or how else is he implicated?

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Actually, I should retract the bit about Deutch being implicated. I always get him confused with John McLaughlin (who was DDCI under Tenet). I have no idea why I do that…

        • Styve says:

          He probably is implicated, keeping the kind of spook company he must have kept for the past few decades! I think it is curious that the four current/recent DCI’s are backed up by a bunch of old hands.

          This should be interesting!!

          I just want to hear “Cuff ‘em, Danno!!”

    • Mary says:

      You know, there was a lot of talk about the guys being pulled in on some of this stuff having a fair amount of age on them, and if they feel they are going to be hung out to dry on their torture involvement, they might well be looking at saying things like: “Well, under ***** we did (we know of guys who did) ABCDE, and no one prosecuted that …” or something similar – that would light up some of the older guys if it was a possibility.

      And re: Woolsey, you know it was only a matter of hours, the day after 9/11, that he was able to co-author with Mansoor Ijaz an LA Times Op Ed pretty much stating that Iraq was behind everything and we shouldn’t go after “sacrificial lambs” (prsumably like al-Qaeda) instead of the state actor who obviously had to be behind it all.

  8. SmileySam says:

    Funny thing is that if this investigation was stopped most of the signers would get off the hook. Isn’t that tantamount to obstruction or something ? How many Bank Robbers write to the Judge to say their prosecution would endanger other bank robbers ?

  9. DieselDave09 says:

    Torture is now such an American trait, I just don’t see why they don’t codify it and immunize all involved. They’re still doing it. Obama either can’t or won’t stop it. Besides, he’ll pardon them all if they just confess. And the American people love tough guys so it’s not like they won’t be treated as heros for torturing and murdering innocent people. If torture was so bad, Gawd would have stopped it, right?

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    The ACLU isn’t buying what these guys are selling (not that that should shock anyone):

    Attorney General Holder initiated a criminal investigation because the available evidence shows that prisoners were abused and tortured in CIA custody. The suggestion that President Obama should order Attorney General Holder to abort the investigation betrays a misunderstanding of the role of the attorney general as well as the relationship between the attorney general and the president. Where there is evidence of criminal conduct, the attorney general has not just the authority but the duty to investigate. The attorney general is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer, and it would be profoundly inappropriate for President Obama to interfere with his work.

  11. liberalrob says:

    Doesn’t this amount to asking the President to obstruct justice? Aren’t they asking Obama to do precisely what Nixon did when he directed the FBI not to investigate the Watergate break-in beyond a certain point? Why is this not illegal?

    • MadDog says:

      Doesn’t this amount to asking the President to obstruct justice? Aren’t they asking Obama to do precisely what Nixon did when he directed the FBI not to investigate the Watergate break-in beyond a certain point?

      Short answer: Yes.

      …Why is this not illegal?

      It is, and they know it. It’s how they believe the system should and does work.

      Why are we not surprised?

  12. skdadl says:

    So many little Napoleons. (The mental image I’ve got is Hayden, but I’m sure the others fit.)

    It makes me sad to see the very best traditions of your culture and mine betrayed by overprivileged brats who probably don’t know and certainly don’t care what they are betraying when they puff themselves up and lie in these ways.

    To me, it takes a brat with an inflated sense of his own importance to claim that the “methods” and operations they write of so reverently were anything special at all, anything deserving of state protection. We’re mostly talking brute force, crude mass bribery of stressed populations, and cheap CYA PR. And how long are the people of the world going to put up with the crooked game played by your government and ours whereby they do mutual CYA under cover of protecting international relations? Heaven forfend that anyone should know that torture goes on at Far’ Falastin prison in Damascus, or that the Moroccans were willing to take a scalpel to someone’s genitals, in all such cases so that they could ask questions transmitted by Western “intelligence” agencies.

    Sometimes I’m ashamed to be a human bean, y’know? I guess I’m wandering. I go to give teh kittehs some supper. Maybe they’ll cheer me up.

    • fatster says:

      Here’s what one of your banks up yonder is saying about us. Bank of Montreal, I believe.

      U.S. joblessness becoming more permanent: BMO
      Last Updated: Friday, September 18, 2009 | 3:32 PM ET

      CBC News
       
      “More than a third of unemployed Americans have been jobless for more than six months, says a BMO report.

      ‘”Long duration structural unemployment … now represents a record 3.2 per cent of the labour force and a record 33.7 per cent of the unemployed,” BMO chief economist Sherry Cooper wrote in a research note issued Friday.”

      More.

      • skdadl says:

        Yes, that’s Bank of Montreal. Sherry Cooper is ‘way above my pay grade as a thinker about finances, although when she says

        the only remedy was sharp government spending cutbacks to rein in budget deficits,

        I’m sure there would be other smarter people around to dispute that.

        Our banks don’t work in quite the way that your banks do. I’m sure they would like to, but through the last year it has turned out to be a good thing that they don’t. Even so, we seem still to have rich people here who want to be miles richer, the way American bankers are. Go figger.

  13. judyo says:

    I was reminded of “Family of Secrets” .. of course Poppy and Stansfield couldn’t be overt. That’s not to say that their influence isn’t huge.

    • valletta says:

      I was just going to mention this!
      Great book, the Poppy thread and connections to this country’s pivotal events is just spooky.

  14. Gerald says:

    Well, when I saw that former President GHW Bush didn’t sign, I got worried and checked to see if he was sick or something. I hadn’t heard about him since his last visit to CVN-77, USS George HW Bush May 26, 2009.
    It seems though that he has just made comments on a statue at Biddeford, Maine, University of New England so I guess he lives.

    I served under GHWB and though I chaffed at the time that we didn’t get to get Saddam, it seems he was smarter than I or his son for sure.

    I think though that he is considering his role as a former President as a reason for not signing that letter. Likewise Gates as a current Administration official, and of course Leon Panetta for the same reason.

    Admiral Stansfield Turner (Ret.) I am not so sure of. He is near 86.
    He cut severely into the CIA’s manpower.

  15. Mary says:

    I think it’s worth noting that McNulty wasn’t just “a US Attorney … also involved in that politicization” but was a USA who got the DAG gig after those prosecution declinations came in.

    It’s also worth noting that those “countries” that they say are supposedly expressing concern aren’t peopled soley by intelligence operatives. They have citizens, they have forms of government that serve as checks and balances – and while intelligence operatives in those countries may not be happy, the citizens and parts of government that serve as a check on intelligence agencies are not only NOT objecting to a US investigation – they have started or are threatening to start their own investigations if we don’t.

    Within days the Italian case is getting its final wrap – the 23rd or 25th I think. How do you say a country that is charging and convicting US operatives is worried about “US” keeping a secret? And what country has its CITIZENS taking to the street, protesting for the US to be allowed to torture at will in their country and avoid investigation and prosecution? Did Beck’s megamillion march coverage just prevent those “Uncle Sam,Please Locate Your Torture Chambers In Our Country!!” Marches? The USPLYTCIOC movement that has taken the world by storm is just somehow being overlooked here in the states?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Didst thou and EW say, “McNulty”?
      Why, wherever have I read that name before…?

      Oh, right, the EW Ghorbanifar Timeline:

      August 27, 2004: News of AIPAC investigation leaked; Paul McNulty put in charge of case

      Verily, what an most interesting moment in that timeline doth the much-mentioned Mr. McNulty show up.

  16. MadDog says:

    Totally OT – When Lawrence Wilkerson, formerly Secretary of State Colin Powell’s assistant, recently spoke with Andy Worthington, he said this:

    …The sad thing is that, until early January 2004, I’m not sure we did either. I understood that there was a team, I understood it was highly placed and probably under the Vice President, I understood that it was membered in almost every aspect of the interagency group that dealt with national security, I understood they had a strategy, I understood they were ruthless in carrying out that strategy, and I understood that I was a day late and a dollar short, because they’d beaten me to the marketplace. But it took me a while to figure that out. I even figured out that they were reading my emails, but I wasn’t reading theirs.

    (My Bold)

    And wouldn’t you know, along comes another OLC Opinion by Steven Bradbury (35 page PDF) that says it is legal and confirms Wilkerson’s suspicions:

    …EINSTEIN 2.0 intrusion-detection sensors will observe in near-real time the packet header and packet content of all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic of Federal Systems (“Federal Systems Internet Traffic”)…

    Again, why are we not surprised?

    And if one thought the Obama Administration would stand up for the 4th Amendment and pull the plug on EINSTEIN 2.0, think again.

    This additional OLC Opinion by David Barron (6 page PDF), reaffirms the previous Bradbury Opinion.

    And again, why are we not surprised?

      • MadDog says:

        Ta! Will be looking forward to more of bmaz’s best.

        While Bradbury’s opinion is detestable, I’m more troubled by David Barron’s reaffirmation of Bradbury’s opinion.

        David Barron, from Harvard Law, was “supposedly” a fierce critic of many of the Bush/Cheney regime’s legal inventions, but I find I find the abandonment of 4th Amendment privacy rights with stuff like this (6 page PDF) particularly egregious:

        …We believe this principle also applies to a person who emails a federal employee at the employee’s personal email account when that employee accesses his or her personal email account through a Government-owned information system, when the consent procedures described above are followed…

        This is even more egregious than the Bush/Cheney regime’s Terrorist Surveillance Program since it basically allows monitoring and capturing of any and all email regardless of having no nexus to crime, terrorism, or even foreign intelligence purposes.

        It says basically that no communication is sacrosanct at all. If one is a federal government employee, you and your friends’ communications are subject to monitoring/surveillance with no pretext whatsoever.

  17. fatster says:

    More on this issue of major importance;

    D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Campaign Finance Rules
    SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

    “A federal appeals court in Washington today struck down several campaign finance rules that restrict the ability of non-profits to fund election-related activities such as voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts and advertisements.

    “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the rules, created by the Federal Election Commission, violated the First Amendment, reversing a lower-court ruling in a suit brought by pro-choice group EMILY’s List.”

    More.

  18. fatster says:

    O/T. Where’s TheraP?

    “Irving Kristol, writer, editor, and social philosopher, has died in Washington at the age of 89. His wisdom, wit, good humor, and generosity of spirit made him a friend and mentor to several generations of thinkers and public servants.
    –The Editors”

    Link.

  19. tjbs says:

    Torture /Murder/ Treason
    1 comment so far mentioned murder and that’s what the cover-up is about, inexcusable murder.
    After the stupid ACORN vote which Patrick Murphy Pa-08 voted for,off went the e-mail inquiring weather he supports AG holder detaining Mr. Cheney for violating the CAT since his most important business was smacking around little ACORN.
    Asked why we needed tracheotomy kits to question SUSPECTS?
    Asked weather he was against the murder of 108 SUSPECTS while supposedly being questioned?
    Asked if he would want his adorable daughter to marry a murder /torturer?
    I expect I’ll get a fine reply come Monday,don’t you?

  20. Styve says:

    I found the page from “Angler” (B. Gellman, 2008) that has a great quote on how the Bush WH made torture seem okay…

    The Bush Admin. stopped saying openly that there were no legal limits on the president’s interrogation authority. But behind the standard talking points, the silhouettes of Cheney and Addington could still be made out. Critics lamented that the White House turned “torture” into an empty label. Spokesmen denied that the United States engaged in any such thing, but refused to discuss particulars. The critics missed something important. The formula was not empty. It was a syllogism, informed by the same old claim of unlimited power.

    “Torture” was defined as what “we do not condone”, as Bush put it. Whatever Bush did permit, Al Gonzalez said, “does not constitute torture.”

    Quot erat demonstrandum.

  21. MadDog says:

    Only tangentially OT – Daphne Eviatar over at Windy has this scoop on another ACLU vs CIA filing:

    ACLU Asks Court to Order Government to Reveal Transcripts of Prisoner Abuse

    The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a Washington, D.C., federal court to require the federal government to release the transcripts (32 page PDF) of 14 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in which they describe abuse and torture suffered in CIA custody.

    The transcripts come from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which the military set up to determine whether suspects seized qualified as “enemy combatants.” Advocates hoped the Obama administration would release those documents, which Bush officials had previously refused to turn over. But the CIA turned over only heavily-redacted transcripts of the proceedings in June that continue to conceal the prisoners’ accounts of their treatment.

    “While much is known about the Bush administration’s torture program, the CIA is continuing to censor the most important eyewitnesses – the torture victims themselves,” Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement released today. “The CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations in order to hide its crimes from the American public; the Obama administration should not prolong this cover-up by suppressing the victims’ firsthand accounts. The CSRT records will provide critical missing information about how the CIA’s torture program was actually carried out and will shed light on whether interrogators followed, or exceeded, Justice Department legal guidance that purported to authorize brutal interrogations…”

  22. Mary says:

    A couple of peripheral things.

    When the Madame Fayes talk about CIA personnel having to pay fees, they make the reference in terms of US prosecution and we know that’s been addressed, but some guys are out fees – like this woman who was one of the defendants in the Italian prosecution.

    But it doesn’t really add to the punch of their “foreign countries will be shocked by our prosecutions” argument to say “our CIA agents are being pursued for their criminal acts in foreign countries where they tortured, with resulting legal expenses and losses of property.

    In a sudden reversal this week, the Justice Department informed DeSousa, one of more than two dozen CIA officers charged with kidnapping in connection with the “rendition” of an al Qaeda suspect from Milan in 2003, that it would pay her legal costs.

    Their trial in absentia is essentially over. Prosecutor Armando Spataro will be presenting his closing arguments Sept. 23, with a guilty verdict expected in October.

    Another issue on the periphery is the Spanish proceeding. That case isn’t likely to be self-limiting to the lawyers involved, since “walling and waterboarding may cause damage or death, but words will never hurt (unless they are acted upon)” or something like that. The investigation kabuki may well be mostly about trying to get Spain (and Germany) to drop investigations and suits based on the US “investigation” that Holder is pretending will take place.

    Then you have el-Masri, who is now going forward with his claims with the Inter-America Commission on Human Rights.

    (Sept 8, 2009 byline)

    The IACHR has accepted a petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Khaled El-Masri

    The U.S. government has two months to respond to the allegations of kidnapping and torture, which U.S. courts summarily rejected in 2007. The IACHR is an autonomous body created by the Organisation of American States (OAS) to promote and protect human rights in the Americas.

    Steven Watt, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program, told IPS, “This petition gives the U.S. yet another opportunity to account for one of the most heinous practices of the George W. Bush administration.”

    emph added Germany has issued warrants for 13 operatives in connection with the CIA abduction to torture, but has otherwise played things close to the vest on el-Masri and Kurnaz.

    Then you have the British referrals on MI6 involvement in US directed torture, not just the Binyam Mohamed case, but also the recent criminal referral by MI6’s head, Scarlett, of a “long standing officer” who is “believed to be an Arab linquist” and “is known to have a reputation for harsh interrogation methods.” So Scotland Yard has few things to keep them busy right now.

    Scarlett’s own investigation into allegations the officer was complicit in torture were held in secret in a MI6 safe house. The interviews are believed to have been spread over several weeks.

    He then reported his findings to Foreign Secretary David Milliband, MI6’s political master who discussed it with the attorney general, Lady Scotland. She then saw Scarlett.

    A Whitehall source who is familiar with the background to the case said that the law officer was pressed by Scarlett to call in Scotland Yard.

    “He strongly felt there was a need to set an example of how MI6 should behave. Collaborating with the CIA on torture is not one of them,” the MI6 chief is said to have argued.

    Golly – that sounds just like the actions of a nation that wants the US to keep up the torture regime, unmolested.

    Then there is the pendency of Maher Arar’s suit. He lost his initial appeal to the Second Circuit. Then the Circuit on its own decided to revisit that decision mid way through last year and there was oral argument in Dec of last year.

    “So the minute the executive raises the spectre of foreign policy, national security, it is the government’s position that is a licence to torture anyone?” asked Judge Sonia Sotomayer, who was participating via teleconference. “Licence meaning you can do so without any financial consequence. That’s your position?”

    “No. That is not our position,” Jonathan Cohn, the government’s lawyer said. For a variety of reasons, he said, the law simply did not allow Mr. Arar to sue U.S. officials.

    (btw – I hadn’t processed that then judge, now Justice Sotomayer was involved in that Oral argument – I’m hoping that doesn’t affect her if the case goes up – to my knowledge no opinion has come out of the Second Cir on this one yet).

    Then we have the issue of all the many Yemenis who are held in GITMO now (and were subjected to inteerrogations by groups including CIA), and who the habeas courts and DOJ lawyers are agreeing were held pretty much on the say-so of one guy who is(was? is he still alive?) nuts (although DOJ says he was so lacking in crediblity for OTHER reasons that the fact he was nuts was pretty much irrelevant)

    Then you have Judges Lamberth and Walker making decisions and about to make deicsions on states secrets issues in the less egregious, non-torture setting. You still have Pakistan on the border of not only falling apart on the one hand, but having ITS courts issue directives involving the torture detainees and Aafia Siddiqui on the other.

    Sept 9 you have the ICC coming out with an investigation into Afghan war crimes, committed by insurgents, but also by NATO>

    On top of all of that, you can’t deal with KSM without also raising the issue of Daniel Pearl’s horrible murder. The Pearl Project has been pushing for the release of documents, but has also been making noises about how it might have put together a relatively complete story on what happened. That might catch someone like Woolsey’s ear, as well as CIA operatives perhaps involved with questioning Saud Memon (deceased) Right now, the Pakistani convicted killer of Pearl is filing for an appeal bc Gonzales trotted out the confession of KSM that he (KSM) killed Pearl as proof that torture works.

    It’s a nifty set of circumstances. I’m pretty damn cynical about what will happen with any of it, but let’s face it, for the spiders in the middle of the web, there are a damn lot of threads to keep spinning.

    • timbo says:

      Mary, thank you for your big picture update on what’s going on with US torture cases overseas. It’s refreshing and reassuring to know that at least a few instances of illegal behavior and violations of international laws and norms are being investigated…even if the US government has decided that maybe it should prosecute the criminals who did these horrible things.

  23. Mary says:

    Shorter Haydenco: “You know that thing where you said no one was above the law? Someone forgot to tell you that *we* are. “

  24. 1boringoldman says:

    1. In America, we don’t have a King! It is not the President’s job to direct the DOJ not to pursue justice. Just because Cheney and Bush did something doesn’t mean it changes our Constitution and Separation of Powers!

    2. “Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions.” That is exactly right, and we do have permanence in legal rules – The Geneva Conventions and USC §2340. They’re easy to find on the Internet. Just because Cheney and Bush thought something doesn’t mean it changes our Constitution and Separation of Powers! The Constitution is on the Internet too. Just because they got John Yoo to say the rules that applied didn’t apply makes no difference. Any right-thinking Agent knew that those Memos were absolute horse-shit put together to try to evade the law. If the guys couldn’t tell that by reading them, they should’ve looked for another job that didn’t require critical thinking.

    3. “the inquiry could expand beyond the handful of cases now under review…” Absolutely correct! Thanks for noticing…

  25. fatster says:

    O/T (Old Topic) Will they continue getting our taxpayer dollars?

    Iraq contractor bought black market weapons, swapped booze for rockets: ex-staffers
    BY PROPUBLICA 

Published: September 18, 2009 
Updated 3 hours ago
    By T. Christian Miller and Aram Roston

    “Last spring, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Iraq got a makeover,replacing the scandal-plagued Blackwater private security company with a firm named Triple Canopy.

    “The new $1 billion contract cemented Triple Canopy’s status as the pre-eminent provider of private security services in Iraq, with its heavily armed employees appearing side by side with senior State Department diplomats

    . . .

    “Company employees told federal investigators that Triple Canopy swapped booze for weapons and supplies from the U.S. military. They said the company bought guns and other arms on the black market in Iraq. Some worried that the money was flowing into the hands of insurgents, records show.

    “The previously undisclosed documents and interviews with current and former Triple Canopy officials raise new questions about the U.S. government’s ability to oversee private security contractors in a fluid and uncertain legal environment. And they give a glimpse into the messy business of creating a private army on the fly in the middle of a war zone.”

    More.

  26. Mary says:

    @62
    And you know, once Comey was gone, McNulty could have reassumed delegation of and supervision of the Plame leak anytime he wanted too. How was it that Fitzgerald put his answer to the committee – something about the language in his delegation was only meant to give the “perception” that he had greater latitude than if he was directly reporting to a supervisor. That sounded kind of like a guy who had the reality underlying the perception brought home to him at some point, to me, but who knows? No one in Congress ever seems to have followed up with getting DOJ to tell them what happened with the delegations after Comey left.

  27. orionATL says:

    mary @34

    “…I think it’s worth noting that McNulty wasn’t just “a US Attorney … also involved in that politicization” but was a USA who got the DAG gig after those prosecution declinations came in…”

    my thoughts exactly on first read.

  28. orionATL says:

    what are the odds that this letter was solicited by individuals within the white house (or the doj)?

    on a different tact,

    if this investigation is destined to be a sham, as many write,

    why would these guys take the trouble make such a public fuss by writing a joint letter?

    seems to me like some somebodies are getting nervous.

    why?

    i don’t know,

    but suppose torture was a cia activity earlier and more often than in iraq and afghanistan.

    we know for certain it was in central america during the years of reagan’s bludgeon diplomacy (notice it was always small countries that the u.s. was bludgeoning).

  29. Jeff Kaye says:

    Threat or sober assessment by the former DCIs?

    …there is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.

    Then, there’s DOJ:

    Given the recommendation from the Office of Professional Responsibility as well as other available information, he believed the appropriate course of action was to ask John Durham to conduct a preliminary review. That review will be narrowly-focused…

    Let us hope in this one instance, the DCIs are correct.

    The rest of their letter is hogwash and fear-mongering.

    Great post and analysis by all.

  30. goodpyr says:

    Which president issued an executive order that stopped any further investigation into the Iran Contra Affair.That president must be George W Bush.Who was the head of the C.I.A during the Iran Contra Affair?

    • tryggth says:

      Who was the head of the C.I.A during the Iran Contra Affair?

      Ah, Casey… a DCI’s DCI. ‘dim were the days. From Wikipeida:

      Based on the book, The Terror Network, Casey believed that the Soviet Union was the source of most worldwide, terrorist activity in spite of CIA analysts providing evidence that this was in fact black propaganda by the CIA itself. Casey obtained a report from a professor who agreed with his view. This, in turn, convinced Reagan that there was a threat.

      Oddly familiar. Well, I mean the stuff about misleading the President, not the notion of Wall Street guy gaming the system.

  31. melior says:

    The CIA, at its own initiative, forwarded fewer than 20 instances where Agency officers appeared to have acted beyond their existing legal authorities

    Curiously, there’s no further mention of the remaining instances of torture which were not forwarded. How many of these were abandoned for a “lack of evidence” because the videotapes (and in several cases, the victims bodies?) were destroyed by the perps?

    The US is legally bound by the Convention Against Torture to submit any case alleging torture by a person within its jurisdiction “to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.” Are Foggo & Friends attempting to obstruct or prevent the prosecution of felonies? That sounds dangerously close to misprision, a felony in itself.

  32. TheOrA says:

    In case this hasn’t been linked, yet.

    Bookreview by By Philippe Sands

    Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security
    by General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), with Malcolm McConnell

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23071

    The Complicit General

    As chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I asked, are you comfortable with all of these techniques being used on American personnel? “Not [the ones] in this memo,” he responded without hesitation. The response left open the unanswerable follow-up question: If these techniques are “inappropriate” for us, why are they appropriate for detainees in US custody?

  33. Hmmm says:

    (1) What a queer move on the DCIs’ part. Why hang themselves out there in the spotlight like this when it only highlights their own personal culpability? At this point whose support can they expect to attract?

    (2) I take it there is no such crime as suborning obstruction of justice, since if there were, sending this letter would be a chargeable act. Pity, that.

    • timbo says:

      Actually it might be chargeable if it could be demonstrated that one or more signers of the letter did so with the explicit intent of warning those involved in suspected crimes from avoiding testifying truthfully. Am guessing that that really is the intent of the letter…to communicate from the top guys at CIA over the years that they are feeling compelled to send such a letter to the President…because things are about to heat up.

      Of course, proving that the letter was an attempt to obstruct justice would be extremely difficult and probably impossible beyond a reasonable doubt…unless one reads the text literally…in which case, it does seem to be an attempt to get POTUS to shutdown USAG investigating prossible crimes.

  34. orionATL says:

    poker player buttercup obama sez –

    know when to fold’em

    and

    know when to fold’em.

    the possibility of a quiet, serious inquiry into torture is no more.

    see this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..id=topnews

    when col. lawrence wilkerson opened his mouth he must have scared a lot of people.

    the buttercup obama record so far:

    – the american republic has been fucked on bank regulation,

    – fucked on health industry regulation,

    – fucked on inappropriate police behavior accounting,

    and, now,

    – fucked on torture accounting.

    buttercup obama.

    how many of you voted for david axelrod’s advertising confection, “obama will transcend politics” campaign,

    over the course of 2008?

    suckers!

    the info was there to evaluate buttercup all along,

    you just were blind (and you never did see).

    congrats!

    • perris says:

      nope, we saw it and believe me we complaigned and wanted another candidate

      we tried our best but don’t forget, kucinich dropped out right away and if edwards won the nomination he probably would not have been elected due to his sex scandal

      but no, obama didn’t fool too many progressives

  35. SparklestheIguana says:

    I wonder if Poppy Bush’s health is too poor for him to sign. He and Babs weren’t at Kennedy’s funeral, either.

    • pseudonymousinnc says:

      While Popbitch isn’t exactly a regular and reliable source for US political gossip, this week’s edition surprised me by invoking Texan sources to suggest Poppy as “a new tip for the Dead Pool.” I’m simply passing it on.

    • emptywheel says:

      He and Babs weren’t at Kennedy’s funeral. But remember that the day after JFK’s death Poppy got a letter asking if they needed to be worried about Cuba. And Poppy was trying to cover up his presence in Dallas the day before th assassination.

      So maybe everyone agreed it would be best if Poppy stayed away.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      Not looking forward to the weeklong extravaganza the Republic will be subject to upon GHWB’s demise.

      • jayt says:

        I couldn’t help but seeing upon GWB’s smirking face, as he sat at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral, the thought crossing his narrow mind – “Sheeeit – looka all this – and he was just a Frickin’ Senator! Imagine what mine is gonna look like!”.

        • Loo Hoo. says:

          I thought he looked guilty as hell, and embarrassed to be in the presence of people who were well aware of his guilt.

        • Leen says:

          actually I thought he looked rather vulnerable and nervous. Sort of saying with his face “it was all Cheney..really”

          Laura looked like she was going to rip someones head off (have never seen her look quite like that)

          Read this one today as I sat at the pond on a very sunny fall day. The water is still great for swimming.

          Andrew Sullivan….Torture and Bush

          Americans want, and need, to move on from the debate over torture in Iraq and Afghanistan and close this tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Prosecuting those responsible could tear apart a country at war. Instead, the best way to confront the crimes of the past is for the man who authorized them to take full responsibility. An open letter to President George W. Bush.
          http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200910/bush-torture

  36. JasonLeopold says:

    Interesting passage in the Post’s “Inquiry Narrows” report. I have a hard time believing that the same people who politicized the DOJ would allow an investigation into torture and murder to take place.

    The ethics report, which is undergoing declassification review, does not point to problems with attorneys in the Eastern District of Virginia, two sources said, but it does explore differences of opinion within the working group that examined the detainee allegations over how to proceed on the few cases that were “close calls.” In a small number of instances, career lawyers disagreed about whether the evidence was sufficient to seek indictment and ultimately win in court. Some of those issues were assessed — as is normally the case — by political appointees, including Paul J. McNulty, the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia who was nominated to serve as deputy attorney general in October 2005. There are no allegations that cases were rejected for improper political reasons.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Thanks for the reference to the WashPost article, Jason.

      The article has lots of memorable quotes (e.g. Holder swearing he’s not necessarily going to prosecute anyone), but the one below — the last paragraph in the story — evokes the cold descent of U.S. society such that government actions involving murder and torture are openly protected by legal arguments that would make a Mafiosi blush.

      “A lot of times cases look open-and-shut because a guy froze to death on a cold cement floor, but these cases are more complicated and involved than that,” said a government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You have to prove the cause of death. How do we know he froze to death? He may have died a natural death from clogged arteries. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he died as a result of the actions of the people who tied him to the floor naked. It may be a logical inference, but proving it beyond a reasonable doubt might be a different story.”

      • JasonLeopold says:

        I totally agree with you Jeff. To describe it that way is just so disturbing. It’s like the “government official” is not describing a person, but an animal. And yet to see our government continue to sweep it under the rug and is even more troubling.

        One only need to look at the autopsy reports at the ACLU’s torture document library to know that the cause of death in many of these cases was murder.

        • wigwam says:

          It’s like the “government official” is not describing a person, but an animal.

          Worse! If anyone did these things to an animal, they’d surely be prosecuted, and these half-assed excuses for not prosecuting would provoke a combination of disgust and loathing toward the people making them.

        • timbo says:

          Feel troubled at all that no state’s bar association has actually disbarred any of the folks who so misinterpreted the law that the law became meaningless? Rhetorical question.

  37. fatster says:

    O/T, but encouraging news.

    Bank of America under feds’ scope
    NEWS WIRE SERVICES
    Saturday, September 19th 2009, 4:00 AM

    “Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch is reportedly under criminal investigation by federal authorities.

    “The probe is being conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI and has been underway for six months, according to a report Friday by the Charlotte Observer; BofA’s headquarters is in Charlotte.”

    More.

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Law? What law? We don’t need no stinkin’ law.

    Matt Damon’s character in the Good Shepherd, Edward Wilson, said it best: The once and future Ivy League clique that runs the CIA and its patrons imagine that they own America; the rest of us are just visiting. They don’t owe us anything, they think, except a kick on the way out the door. David Broder said much the same thing when he claimed, with no factual support, only angst, that Clinton came to Washington and trashed the place. I guess he didn’t see any of that pre-existing litter that bound his ankles and knees and pen – not to mention the steaming piles George and Dick left all over the place.

    This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep running.

  39. fatster says:

    O/T (Old Topic): Rockefeller might help us out after all

    543 Amendments and a Public Option is One
    by Kitsap River
    Sat Sep 19, 2009 at 09:27:39 AM PDT

    “Shortly after about 7:30 this morning my time (10:30 EDT), the Finance Committee filed 543 amendments to the Chairman’s Mark: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. I believe every member of the health care subcommittee has filed something.

    “Here’s the big one: Rockefeller C7, number 187. Rockefeller’s come through for us. He’s calling for a public option that gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices.”

    More.

  40. fatster says:

    O/T: BOHICA

    Treasury Docs: Enviro Taxes Could Reach $400 Billion A Year
    Posted by Declan McCullagh
    September 18, 2009 11:35 PM

    “Bowing to pressure from congressional Republicans, the U.S. Treasury Department late Friday disclosed previously-unreleased calculations that show domestic policies related to climate change could levy a $400 billion a year tax on the American economy.

    “Most of that revenue would come from companies required to purchase the right to generate greenhouse gases, a concept called cap and trade. If those and other climate change taxes were passed along to consumers, not counting any credits or other tax law changes, the documents indicate the average American household would pay up to $3,522 a year more in higher gasoline, heating oil, electricity, and other energy costs. “[emphasis added]

    More.

  41. lllphd says:

    i actually welcome this move on the parts of these partisan hacks. as you so astutely (as ever) point out, they attempt to browbeat obama into essentially committing a crime, to spike an investigation into investigation spiking. how perfectly this exposes their own culpability, whether in actual participation of past such crimes, or in finding some way to justify doing such things given their experience of the agency and their perception of its ‘role’. versus the roles of congress, the executive, the courts, etc., not to mention the constitution they were all oath-bound to uphold.

    it’s truly perfect. a bit like capone, luciano, gambino, and costello all signing a letter begging the prez to stop an investigation into the mafia because, you know, it would so cramp their style. and, importantly, as if the world is ignorant of their complicity and the reality of what the mafia is up to. laughable.

  42. plunger says:

    Just as Cheney was working directly for GHW throughout Cheney’s entire (vice)Presidency, now GHW has directed his surrogates to sign this letter, leaving his name off, so as not to implicate the true target at the top, GHW himself, the ACTUAL leader of both the CIA and the most recent Cheney Administration.

    Assume that GHW was calling every shot prior to and throughout the entire 8-years. Assume it was GHW who approved Cheney and Rumsfeld’s use of torture. See where that leads you.

    At this point, can there really be a conspiracy too vast to comprehend? It’s staring us all right in the face.

  43. orionATL says:

    perris @85

    you’re very right, of course.

    i was feeling frustrated.

    i have never gotten over the adulation focused on obama from the beginning of the primaries, mainly by progressive leaders and news sources.

    when it came time to vote in nov, we had boxed ourselves into a corner where supporting obama over mccain was the only rational alternative.

    we had left ourselves with a choice between an old fool and a young fool-

    an old fool too intemperate and intellectually limited to function as a president

    and a young fool too inexperienced and calculating to function well as a president.

    but that is all behind us.

    we are where we are and that is stuck with a president who is more concerned keeping the loyalty of republican voters who supported him in 2008 than in liberal voters or liberal policies.

    really, this time i mean it. i’m going to move to new zealand.

    (they’ve got really excellent socialized medicine there i hear.)

  44. Styve says:

    Bob Parry, of Consortiumnews.com, did a great piece on the CIA gang-o-seven…http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/2009/091909a.html

    CIA Torturers Running Scared

    By Ray McGovern
    September 19, 2009

    For the CIA supervisors and operatives responsible for torture, the chickens are coming home to roost; that is, if President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder mean it when they say no one is above the law – and if they don’t fall victim to brazen intimidation.

    Unable to prevent Holder from starting an investigation of torture and other war crimes that implicate CIA officials past and present, those same CIA officials, together with what those in the intelligence trade call “agents of influence” in the media, are pulling out all the stops to quash the Justice Department’s preliminary investigation.

    In what should be seen as a bizarre twist, seven CIA directors — including three who are themselves implicated in planning and conducting torture and assassination — have asked the President to call off Holder.

    Please, tell me how could the whole thing be more transparent?
    […]
    Clarke describes a meeting in which he took part with President George W. Bush in the White House bunker just minutes after Bush’s TV address to the nation on the evening of 9/11.

    When the subject of international law was raised, Clarke writes that the president responded vehemently: “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [p. 24]

    It only took Bush six days to grant the CIA the “broad authorities” the agency had recommended.

    It then took White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney’s lawyer David Addington, and William J. Haynes II, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s lawyer, four more months to advise the president formally that, by fiat, he could ignore the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

    This gang of lawyers so advised at the turn of 2001-2002, beating down objections by William Howard Taft IV, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s lawyer. Bush chose to follow the dubious advice of imaginative lawyers in his and Dick Cheney’s employ; namely, that 9/11 ushered in a “new paradigm” rendering the Geneva protections “quaint” and “obsolete.”

    Prosecutorial Warning

    Addington and Gonzales did take care to warn the president, by memorandum of Jan. 25, 2002, of the risk of criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 2441, the War Crimes Act of 1996. Their memo said:

    “That statute, enacted in 1996, prohibits the commission of a ‘war crime’ by or against a U.S. person, including U.S. officials. ‘War crime’…is defined to include any grave breach of the GPW [Geneva] or any violation of Article 3 thereof (such as outrages against personal dignity)…Punishments for violations of Section 2441 include the death penalty….

    “…it is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors or independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441. Your determination [that Geneva does not apply] would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.”

    With that kind of pre-ordered reassurance, President Bush issued a two-page executive directive in which he states, “I accept the legal conclusion of the Department of Justice and determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees…”

    This is the smoking gun on Bush’s key role in the subsequent torture of “war on terror” prisoners. The Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report last December stating that that Feb. 7 memorandum “opened the door” to abusive interrogation practices.

    Unhappily for Bush and those who carried out his instructions, on June 29, 2006, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Geneva DOES apply to al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees.

    One senior Bush administration official is reported to have gone quite pale at the time, when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy raised the ante, warning that “violations of Common Article 3 are considered ‘war crimes,’ punishable as federal offenses.”

    What about U.S. criminal law? Despite the almost laughable attempts by lawyers like Addington and John Yoo to get around the War Crimes Act by advising that only the kind of pain accompanying major organ failure or death can be considered torture, those involved are now in a cold sweat — the more so, since those dubious opinions have now been publicly released.

    Evidence of Torture

    In releasing the sordid, torture-approving memoranda written by Justice Department lawyers and a critical “Special Review” by the CIA’s own horse’s-mouth Inspector General, Obama and Holder had to face down very strong pressure from those with the most to lose — former CIA directors and the functionaries (some of them in senior CIA positions to this very day) who were responsible for seeing to it that “the gloves came off.”

    Now, out in the public domain is all the evidence needed to show that war crimes were committed — “authorized” as legal by Justice Department Mafia-type lawyers recruited for that express purpose — but war crimes nonetheless.

    Torture, kidnapping, illegal detention — not to mention blatant violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) outlawing eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant.

    The stakes are incredibly high. No wonder the CIA and its “agents of influence” (see Saturday’s lead story in the Washington Post) are going all out.
    […]
    Among the most transparent parts of the letter from the Gang of Seven is their corporate worry that “there is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.”

    Their worry is all too real. Evidence already on the public record shows that the first three listed – Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet – could readily be indicted for crimes under U.S. and international law, including:

    –Illegal eavesdropping by the National Security Agency (Hayden was NSA director when he ordered his employees to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires warrants from a special court before wiretaps are undertaken.)

    –assassination planning without notification to Congress (Goss, whose uncommonly abrupt departure in May 2006 was never looked into by the Fawning Corporate Media [FCM]); and Tenet (who turned out to be right about at least one thing — that “things could blow up.”)

    The other “distinguished signatories” were:

    John Deutch, arrogant to the point of criminality, Deutch disregarded the most elementary rules governing protection of classified information, and had to be given a last-minute pardon by President Bill Clinton.

    R. James Woolsey, the man who outdid himself in trying to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and in pushing into the limelight spurious intelligence from the fabricator known as “Curveball.” (Remember those fictitious biological weapons labs for which Colin Powell displayed “artist renderings” to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003?)

    William Webster, known mostly at Langley for his handsome face and his devotion to his late-afternoon matches with socialite tennis partners. (Folks like Webster should recognize that, once they have reached what my lawyer father used to call “the age of statutory senility,” they should be more careful regarding what they let themselves be dragged into.)

    James R. Schlesinger, “Big Jim” launched his brief stint as CIA director by warning us CIA employees that his instructions were “to ensure that you guys do not screw Richard Nixon.” To give substance to this assertion, he told us that the White House had said he was to report to political henchman Bob Haldeman — not Henry Kissinger, the national security advisor. More recently, Schlesinger led one of the see-no-evil Defense Department “investigations” of the abuses of Abu Ghraib.

    Quite a group, this Gang of Seven.

    continued~~

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      RE: The day Porter Goss unexpectedly resigned…..

      Sat May-27-06

      What really happened the day Porter Goss resigned

      http://www.businessweek.com/bw…..nf2…

      President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

      Unbeknownst to almost all of Washington and the financial world, Bush and every other President since Jimmy Carter have had the authority to exempt companies working on certain top-secret defense projects from portions of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Administration officials told BusinessWeek that they believe this is the first time a President has ever delegated the authority to someone outside the Oval Office. It couldn’t be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision.

      The timing of Bush’s move is intriguing. On the same day the President signed the memo, Porter Goss resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency amid criticism of ineffectiveness and poor morale at the agency. Only six days later, on May 11, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had obtained millions of calling records of ordinary citizens provided by three major U.S. phone companies. Negroponte oversees both the CIA and NSA in his role as the administration’s top intelligence official.

      William McLucas, the Securities & Exchange Commission’s former enforcement chief, suggested that the ability to conceal financial information in the name of national security could lead some companies “to play fast and loose with their numbers.” McLucas, a partner at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in Washington, added: “It could be that you have a bunch of books and records out there that no one knows about.”

  45. Teddy Partridge says:

    If the DCIs didn’t do anything wrong, what are they afraid of?

    Didn’t we hear that whine throughout the discussion of warrantless eavesdropping? Why can’t we apply that whine to these DCIs who suddenly think they shouldn’t be investigated?

    What do they have to hide?

  46. Leen says:

    “Not only will some members of the intelligence community be subjected to costly financial and other burdens from what amounts to endless criminal investigations, but this approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country.”

    breaking International laws and sliding down the slippery slope

  47. TheOracle says:

    I can’t wait for the Teabaggers for Torture march on Washington, with participants chanting “We don’t torture! We don’t torture!” (repeating the Bush/Cheney administration line) while these seven former CIA Directors lead the march, shouting, too, like a wave at a football game, one after the other, “We don’t torture! We don’t torture!”.

    If this is true, that “We don’t torture,” then any investigation will turn up nothing.

    But since we already know this isn’t true, then these former CIA Directors must be covering for others besides the CIA officers who were ordered to use whatever means BushCo authorized to get detainees to talk, which makes me wonder just how much of BushCo’s torture practices were outsourced to private contractors and exactly how many detainees were literally tortured to death due to overzealous privately-contracted torturers-for-hire, in which these torturers-for-hire were probably paid bonuses for “results”?

    Everything conservatives do in Washington (nowadays and what seems forever) is geared toward protecting corporations and the monied interests, the elites, the political and economic scavengers. Retroactive telecom immunity. Blocking investigations into war profiteering. Blocking investigations into torture of detainees. Blocking investigations into post-Katrina disaster-profiteering. Blocking healthcare reform that might cut into the profits of our nation’s current corporate healthcare scavengers.

    Conservative greed is the common denominator behind all conservative actions.

  48. Gitcheegumee says:

    Copper Green is reported by American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh to be one of several code names for a U.S. black ops program, according to an article in the May 24, 2004 issue of The New Yorker.

    According to Hersh, the task force was formed with the direct approval of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during October,2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and run by Deputy Undersecretary Stephen Cambone. Hersh claims the special access program members were told “Grab whom you must. Do what you want”. The program allegedly designed physical coercion and sexual humiliation techniques for use against Muslim Arab men specifically, to retrieve information from suspects, and to blackmail them into becoming informants.

    Hersh claims to have spoken to a senior CIA official who said the program was designed by Rumsfeld to wrest control of information from the CIA, and place it in the hands of the Pentagon. According to Hersh’s sources, the program was so successful in Afghanistan, that Cambone decided to introduce the SAP program to operations during 2003 invasion of Iraq, eventually leading to the use of common soldiers instead of using special ops forces exclusively. In Hersh’s view, the program was used on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, leading directly to the prisoner abuse by US soldiers there.

    Department of Defense spokesperson Lawrence DiRita immediately issued a statement about the accusations, referring to them as “outlandish, conspiratorial, and filled with error and anonymous conjecture”. Press accounts have generally characterized DiRita’s statement as a “denial”, although it is clearly not a blanket denial of Hersh’s allegations or even a denial that they are substantially correct.

    Wikipedia

  49. NRI1969 says:

    Let’s be clear: what these seven former CIA directors are asking the president to do is known as obstruction of justice.

  50. doctordawg says:

    Poppy couldn’t sign on for conflict of interest reasons.

    Don’t forget the CIA is not like you and me. Some of them sign on to take a bullet for their country knowing their country will deny they even existed. No hero’s funeral for them.

    They need their bosses to be held accountable by the DOJ because rank and file can’t say no to anything they are asked to do.

  51. bobh says:

    Given that Holder’s target list is just a handful of people, this is really over the top, and is clearly politically motivated.

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