The AP’s “Most Complete Published Account” that Leaves Out Torture

The AP’s DOJ and intelligence writers have a story out on the Durham investigation that purports to be “the most complete published account” of the destruction of the torture tapes. Only, it ignores key details that have already been published which paint a much more damning picture of the tapes and their destruction.

First, the news. The AP story does reveal the following new details:

  • The name of the guy in Thailand–then station chief Mike Winograd–involved in the destruction of the tapes
  • The news that the guy who destroyed the torture tapes–former CTC and Clandestine Services head Jose Rodriguez–is still lurking around Langley as a contractor with Edge Consulting
  • The observation that Rodriguez did not include the two CIA lawyers who “approved” the torture tape destruction (Steven Hermes and Robert Eatinger, who have been identified before) on his order to destroy them, which is perceived within CIA as highly unusual
  • The hint that prosecutors may use Sarbanes-Oxley to establish the requirement to keep the tapes as well as the detail that John Durham has prosecuted two of the only half a dozen cases that have used this Sarb-Ox provision
  • A list of reasons why all the requests that should have covered the tapes purportedly don’t:

_In early May 2003, U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema told the CIA to reveal whether there were interrogation videos of any witnesses relevant to the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was charged as a Sept. 11 conspirator. But that order didn’t cover Zubaydah, who Brinkema ruled was immaterial to the Moussaoui case, so the CIA didn’t tell the court about his interrogation tape.

_A judge in Washington told the agency to safeguard all evidence related to mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. But Zubaydah and al-Nashiri were held overseas at the time, so the agency regarded the order as not applicable to the tapes of their interrogations.

_A judge in New York told the CIA to search its investigative files for records such as the tapes as part of a Freedom of Information Act suit. But the CIA considered the tapes part of its operational files and therefore exempt from FOIA disclosure and did not reveal their existence to the court.

_The Sept. 11 commission asked for broad ranges of documents, but never issued a formal subpoena that would have required the agency to turn over the tapes.

As such, the story adds valuable insight into the strategies that John Durham may be using to prosecute Jose Rodriguez and others.

But the story buys into certain well-cultivated CIA myths that obscure some other important details of the story:

  • The story replicates CIA’s favored narrative about why the tapes were made–“to prove that interrogators followed broad new rules Washington had laid out”–and why they were destroyed–to protect the identities of officers involved in the interrogation.
  • The story presents Winograd’s justification for destroying the tapes–“the inspector general had completed its investigation and McPherson had verified that the cables accurately summarized the tapes”–without any discussion of the fact that McPherson acknowledged evidence of tampering with the tapes during the IG Report and couldn’t say whether the techniques reflected the guidance given to the torturers.
  • The story ignores all evidence of earlier destruction of evidence and cover-up of criminal acts.
  • This claim–“The White House didn’t learn about the tapes for a year, and even then, it was somewhat by chance”–is either further evidence of a cover-up or simply false.

Let’s start with the primary fiction–that the tapes were designed solely “to prove that interrogators followed broad new rules Washington had laid out.” Aside from indications they were used for research purposes about the efficacy of the methods they were using, this claim suffers from a fundamental anachronism. After all, when the taping started on April 13, 2002, Washington had not yet laid out the broad new rules ultimately used to authorize Abu Zubaydah’s torture on August 1, 2002. Bruce Jessen didn’t even complete his proposed interrogation plan until three days after taping started.

Although, if “Washington” had indeed given Abu Zubaydah’s torturers broad rules three and a half months before the Bybee Memo was signed–reports have said that Alberto Gonzales authorized that treatment on a day to day basis–then that by itself would provide an entirely different logic for why the tapes were made and then destroyed (which is sort of the argument Barry Eisler makes in his book Inside Out).

That said, we know that already in April 2002, the torturers had exceeded the 24-48 limits on sleep deprivation set by DOJ and NSC. Which sort of blows the whole claim that CIA believed the torturers had remained within established guidelines…

But we also know that CIA not only knew that it had blown by the broad rules it had been given, but that the tapes provided some indication that they had. That’s why AP’s uncritical acceptance of Winograd’s justification is so problematic–it ignores the evidence reported in the IG Report that significant portions of the torture tapes–including two waterboarding sessions–had been altered or destroyed. McPherson, of course, didn’t find this earlier destruction of evidence “noteworthy.” But he did say, when asked five months after his report on the tapes whether the techniques on them reflected the guidance given to the torture team, that he would have to consult that guidance before he answered.

Now, to be fair, AP is only reporting Winograd’s justification for destroying the torture tapes. I’m not challenging that he did say that (indeed, it reflects the publicly available cable traffic). But the AP ought to point out to its readers the wiggle room here. The AP accepts the CIA claim that they made the tapes to make sure the torturers followed the rules set for them in Washington. But then why not point out that their justification for destroying them adopts a different standard–whether the tapes matched the log, rather than whether the tapes matched the guidelines? Why not note that McPherson himself admitted that he hadn’t reviewed for the latter standard, and that the IG Report clearly concluded the torture had exceeded the standards laid out for the torturers. Had the AP laid this critical detail out, then it might not be so mystified about why McPherson needed immunity or what his testimony might be able to reveal about the reasons why Jose Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed.

Which gets to the earlier evidence of a cover-up. We know–and Jay Bybee has confirmed–that the torturers did not follow the rules laid out for them. Further, there are hints that the tapes might have shown far more severe sleep deprivation than approved in the rules, sleep deprivation the CIA would used to authorize using that amount of sleep deprivation. Add in the possibility that the torturers used the mock burial that John Yoo would later refuse to approve and subsequently call torture.

There are very clear reasons why the torturers and those in CTC who authorized that torture–starting with Jose Rodriguez–might not want evidence that they exceeded limits on torture lying around in a safe in Thailand. And there are pieces of evidence that suggest the cover-up of what, since it exceeded DOJ guidelines, would be torture by anyone’s measure, started in 2002. In addition to McPherson’s odd report, there are also the curious details about the briefing record to Congress. Starting with the three day period in which Jose Rodriguez gave Nancy Pelosi and Porter Goss an incomplete briefing, followed the next day by the decision to destroy the tapes, followed the next day by some alteration of the only record of the Pelosi briefing. The Pelosi briefing, similar games with Bob Graham’s briefing, and the odd briefing Crazy Pete Hoekstra got the day the torture tapes were destroyed suggest that CIA’s briefings were all an attempt to put some legal fig leaf on the destruction of evidence of torture.

But that’s not the most important oddity about Congressional briefings on torture and the torture tapes. The AP reports that the White House didn’t know of the tapes until May 2004.

That’s funny.

If that’s true, then what happened at the meeting between CIA and the White House some time before February 22, 2003 regarding how to respond to Jane Harman’s letter that–among other things–objected to the destruction of the torture tapes? And why did the CIA go to apparent lengths to share the Pat Roberts briefing with the White House differently than they did the Jane Harman one? Mind you, it is possible that none of these documents show documentary evidence that the CIA consulted with the White House when deciding what to do with Harman’s written warning not to destroy the torture tapes (though, if as it appears, the White House got Pat Roberts’ MFR showing his approval to destroy the torture tapes, then the White House did know about the torture tapes). But if the CIA was working so closely with the White House on these briefings–one of three stated intents of which was to get approval to destroy the torture tapes–then the only way the White House didn’t know about the tapes is if the CIA very carefully gave the White House plausible deniability.

Which would, itself, provide yet more evidence that CIA knew it was involved in a cover-up.

Here’s the bottom line. There is a great deal of evidence that Jose Rodriguez knew as early as September 6, 2002 that he needed to destroy evidence of the torturers exceeding the guidelines set in DC. According to anyone’s definition, that means Rodriguez knew years before he had the tapes destroyed he was destroying evidence of torture, even by Jay Bybee’s and possibly John Yoo’s measure.

Yet the AP–in their “most complete published account”–doesn’t even mention that torture?

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

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

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

  1. klynn says:

    There is a great deal of evidence that Jose Rodriguez knew as early as September 6, 2002 that he needed to destroy evidence of the torturers exceeding the guidelines set in DC. According to anyone’s definition, that means Rodriguez knew years before he had the tapes destroyed he was destroying evidence of torture, even by Jay Bybee’s and possibly John Yoo’s measure.

    Yet the AP–in their “most complete published account”–don’t even mention that torture?

    Looks like another round of Depends will be needed at the AP offices.

    Thank you for your never ending efforts to connect the disconnected facts.

    After reading this post, there is an editor that needs to retire.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t blame the editor in this case. I just think this is a case of taking the CIA line too credulously w/o comparing it to the public record.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        That story you linked is just barely an hour old and you took it apart. One hour for a DFH blogger. How many hours did that editor have before he cut that story loose?

        If you’re not going to blame the editor for not doing due diligence, whom do you blame?

        Boxturtle (Not sure where to place the blame other than on the editor)

  2. ghostof911 says:

    The script for saturating the national psyche with torture was developed over years before the 2001 version of Pearl Harbor. It was developed in parallel with the Patriot Act that rolled out in its perfected form days after the strike.

    One day we will learn who the individuals were who were responsible in dragging out torture from the Dark Ages into the 21st century.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Just what we need, ANOTHER ObamaLLP lapdog. They’ve got a huge staff and they can’t even come up with a whitewash that a DFH bogger, jetlagged and buried in a different document dump, doesn’t shoot down before lunch.

    Boxturtle (And they probably had White House “assistance” preparing the story)

  4. bobschacht says:

    Anyone else having a problem with the “Spotlight” function for this diary? When I try to use it, I get this:

    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, [email protected] and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Bob in AZ

    • bobschacht says:

      I’m still getting the “500 Internal Server Error” trying to spotlight this diary, even after closing my browser and re-opening it. I get the same problem if I try to spotlight the most recent diary (Nancy Pelosi…)

      Wot gifs?

      Bob in AZ

      • egregious says:

        It’s a general error – getting it myself. “The problem is not in your television set.”

  5. klynn says:

    I just think this is a case of taking the CIA line too credulously w/o comparing it to the public record.

    A good editor would ba asking the writer to make sure “that” was done.

    Had their chance. Muffed it.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Yes, editors have some responsibilities too.

      That “report” clearly “suggests”, and very precisely, that John L. McPherson, a CIA lawyer, offered immunity for his cooperation , ” … as the CIA’s former litigation chief, he would probably know whether destroying them was an effort to obstruct any of the Agency’s cases.”

      Any editor who did not question such ready acceptance of the government line ought to be ashamed and seriously consider spending more time with family.

      DW

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The CIA’s version of history is almost biblical, as if it took Matthew, Mark, Luke and John told the same story without contradiction or different or omitted material. Conflating timing of events is essential a) to obfuscating what they did, to whom and by whom, which might still become the subject of congressional or prosecutorial investigations; and b) to its legal defense against alleged multiple felonies. That somewhat reduces the credibility of its version of events.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That really is a Sisyphean effort – getting the CIA to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – given that the CIA was built to spy, and has to lie, cheat, steal and kill in order to do it.

      The CIA seems to keep one rule, the one adopted by successful martial artists (success being survival in the field, not points scored on the mat): the only rule is that there are no rules. Even there, it doesn’t seem to be doing too well, but someone keeps giving it a helluva budget to keep trying.

  7. tjbs says:

    Did the tapes contain secondary war crimes i.e. having another prisoner, on a leash to ” witness” their fate, if they continue to with hold valuable information that the bearers of freedom know you have?

    EW nice work on short notice, keep taking names and kicking ass

  8. Garrett says:

    Watch the AP walk backwards:

    It’s not clear what information he is providing, but he has intimate knowledge of the tapes, and as the CIA’s former litigation chief, he probably would know whether destroying them was an effort to obstruct any of the agency’s court cases.

    It’s not clear what information he is providing, but he has intimate knowledge of the tapes, and as the CIA’s former litigation chief, he probably would have a well-informed opinon as to whether destroying them was an effort to obstruct any of the agency’s court cases.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I noticed that. Have they still not fixed that?

      Which is all the more curious since they seem to have zero clue of public stuff that would explain precisely what he would know.

  9. Mary says:

    Great post – thanks for hammering away at it all EW.

    They also don’t mention the Padilla case, do they? That’s the one where Gov specifically uses Zubaydah (and Binyam Mohamed) as their sourcing, laundered through an FBI agent declaration, and where Padilla’s lawyers immediately raised the issues regarding torture and/or mistreatment of the sources in front of, hmmmm, what was that guy’s name, tip of my tongue, just wrote an op ed on how he wants to marry GITMO when he grows up, what was that guy’s name – oh yeah, Mukasey.

    Zubaydah(‘s torture) was laundered through an FBI declaration (which has never been delved into much – what the agent knew, what the FBI knew, what the DOJ told them about what they knew esp in light of Soufan’s noisy withdrawal from the interrogation, etc.) in order to get Padilla handed over for … more torture.

    And btw – what about all the pictures – not the tapes, but the pictures. Almost all the guys indicate that the CIA stripped them in front of a woman agent and had her take pictures of them. These were supposed “necessary” for identifying purposes and in Binyam Mohamed’s case would have included evidence of his torture (he mentions the woman flinching at what she saw) and no one seems to ask much about or proffer much info on those taxpayer paid, pornography sessions and how it was that the necessary pics have all disappeared too, or how you are not violating prohibitions on humiliating and degrading treatment to engage in that kind of activity.

  10. Mary says:

    Factual inaccuracies and skewed info notwithstanding, here’s what made me angry when I read it:

    Critics of that George W. Bush-era program point to the tapes’ destruction and say his administration was trying to cover its tracks.

    The reality is not so simple.

    That was their full bow to the torture program and then the reporters give up objective reporting COMPLETELY and tell us that Bushco covering its tracks isn’t “the reality”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Those Shrub “tracks” were smeared with blood, feces, urine and sweat, so covering them would be bad enough. But, no, reality was much worse than Shrub merely trying to cover his tracks. Has the MSM lost all sense of history except the trajectory of its own compensation and influence?

      • Mary says:

        In all the stories and investigations by the press or Congress or “independent” inhouse lawyers, etc. what no one has really bothered to do is nail down DOJ on where it stands vis a vis Executive branch crime directed from the WH or from OVP or CIA or NSA with WH approval.

        They tip-toed around asking Bybee, Comey came partly out with some of it, Fitzgerald used the kind of language that should have gotten their attention in his responses, but no one and especially not the Dems in Congress have held feet to the fire on just how DOJ views itself and its duties to the Courts and to Congress vis a vis “if the President does it, it’s legal”

        Right now you have this mish mash of no one claiming authority to investigate anyone (Fine, for that matter, pretty much came out and said he can’t investigate at the AG level, much less higher)

        They need to get this boys and girls in a room and make them delineate the lines of authority bc I can almost guarantee you that we have SOX on the table bc they want something that only looks at the act of destruction without having to get into anything vis a vis the content destroyed – a bone to throw under the “we did too charge someone” that will keep any real investgation of the true players at bey. Bc, when you get right down to it, inhouse lawyers (and I think Fitzgerald pretty much laid this out) only get trappings to give the perception of independence – they are not really independent (their mandates can be changed any time and secretly and they can be overriden in the same manner) and their authorization never includes the authorization to challenge the AG or the President, who have the ultimate say for the inhouse lawyers – and this is the tack taken not only in covering up the crimes, but also in the DOJ’s interactions with Congress, the Courts and the Citizens. And someone needs to pound the nails in on it for all to see – DOJ can’t investigate the top levels, in investigations of lower levels is not independent in its investigations, and Congress and the Courts refusing to hold DOJ lawyers for misfeasance done under the aegis of the AG or Exec is a truly, really, very bad idea.

        • DWBartoo says:

          At what point, Mary, does a “very bad idea” become Treason, pure and simple?

          Are we there yet?

          I would say … “yes”.

          However, I realize that many are not, yet, prepared … to say …

          DW

          • Mary says:

            Well, if its the Executive branch that has all the prosecutorial powers, and the Exec branch lawyers all buy into the theory that the President and AG are sooooooooooo far and away the ultimate aribiters on what is or isn’t treason that the lawyers have no duties to Congress or the Courts even and besides, if the President does it, it’s legal – and if the Courts and Congress buy into that as well – then I guess you have an answer. *sigh*

            • DWBartoo says:

              Well, we have, for some time, had “their” answer.

              However, it might be a wee bit self-serving. And, given the current state of the rule of law … it might, someday, be subject to “change”.

              Your answer, Mary, is the one that matters to me, thank you.

              DW

          • tjbs says:

            and because of that attitude the “Government” can make snuff films with clean hands….. I don’t like where this leads…

  11. Mary says:

    Seriously – how do they not mention the Padilla case at all?

    I’m guessing they weren’t too terribly worried over Roberts kicking out the Padilla appeal while saying that he was gonna be watching dem guys over der in gov, in case they pulled any funny stuff.

  12. thatvisionthing says:

    I haven’t grokked this all, but can I carry a question here from a previous diary? Gitcheegumee and I were trading John Walker Lindh comments, and Lindh, an American kid, was Detainee 001 and Rumsfeld personally wrote a document telling interrogators to “take the gloves off” when interrogating Lindh specifically. As soon as his capture was publicized, Saturday, December 1, 2001, Lindh’s parents got him a lawyer on Monday, December 3, who immediately wrote Rumsfeld, Powell, Ashcroft and Tenet and asked to see his client. Lindh didn’t know that but did ask to see a lawyer but instead got whisked away for two months of torture.

    FRANK LINDH: Well, the government never told him. They held him for fifty-four days incommunicado, until he was brought back to Washington, DC area, northern Virginia.

    AMY GOODMAN: Questioning him?

    FRANK LINDH: Oh, yes, yes, questioning. After the torture, he was brought in and said, “If you’ll talk to us, we’ll stop torturing you.”

    All of this is before the April 2002 start date of the taping that you note above, but wouldn’t you think Lindh’s sessions would have been taped? And also, maybe seeing an American kid from Marin CA tortured would be a reason to destroy tapes? He was offered a plea bargain at the last minute, which he took, having no faith in a fair trial, and part of that plea bargain was he had to keep silence about torture.

    He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence, and he would have to drop any claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002

    Have you covered this angle?

  13. WilliamOckham says:

    The AP is also leaving out the meeting where Porter Goss ordered Rodriguez to have the tapes destroyed. Surely Durham knows about that.

  14. TarheelDem says:

    Drip…drip…drip…

    New evidence slowly comes out. It’s the same way it was with Watergate. Until enough evidence was out there that the GOP ranking members couldn’t ignore and the Democrats could have the assurance that they were not going out on a limb.

    Keep connecting the dots, Marcy.

  15. dakine01 says:

    Gee, whoever could have anticipated that the AP would be unquestioning stenographers of an attempt to spin the torture tapes and re-make facts, no matter the available evidence already in the public domain.

    I guess they’ve never hears of Ms Wheeler’s facility at timelines.

  16. Mary says:

    OT – but not by much.

    Andrew Krieg at Nieman Watchdog is reporting that

    … just four days before [Dannehy’s] appointment [to investigate the attorney firings], a federal appeals court had ruled that a team of prosecutors led by Dannehy illegally suppressed evidence in a major political corruption case in Connecticut. The prosecutors’ misconduct was so serious that the court vacated seven of the eight convictions in the case.

    Danney’s misconduct case involved the trial of a businessman named Spadoni, accused of bribing a former state Treasurer.

    …the court ruled, “the government deprived Spadoni of exculpatory evidence going to the core of its bribery case against him.”

    The court reversed Spadoni’s convictions on seven counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud, leaving intact only an obstruction of justice conviction.

    So at a time she might possibly have been undergoing DOJ investigation herself (things are apparently pretty murky on the extent to which the court tied specific lawyers to its misconduct determination), Mukasey appointed her to lead the atty firing investigation.

    And the really Karma Kalling part? Dannehy was supervised during the multi-year Spadoni prosecution by … John Durham.

    Meanwhile, the only charge not dismissed against Spadoni – obstruction – stems from purported destruction of computer files in advance of a potential subpoena. As Acting USA for CT, Durham has signed off this April on the appellate filings contesting the determinations of misconduct.

    It’s a small world after all

    It’s a small, small, world.

    • spanishinquisition says:

      “So at a time she might possibly have been undergoing DOJ investigation herself (things are apparently pretty murky on the extent to which the court tied specific lawyers to its misconduct determination), Mukasey appointed her to lead the atty firing investigation.”

      That’s a good way to get the report that you want – either the investigator says what the Obama admin wants or the investigator goes to prison and gets disbarred.

      “Meanwhile, the only charge not dismissed against Spadoni – obstruction – stems from purported destruction of computer files in advance of a potential subpoena”

      Sounds like Spadoni could have a career in the CIA.

      • Mary says:

        And to go a little further afield, but while DOJ coverups on the table, seeing a David Ring listed as one of the AUSAs who worked with Dannehy brought to mind the Abramoff prosecutions that pretty much weren’t and Kevin Ring. In connection with he mistrial last fall this piece:

        http://www.mainjustice.com/2009/11/19/coughlin-sentencing-memo-gives-probe-details/

        by Joe Palazzolo at Main Justice disclosed that:

        The Justice Department’s Inspector General investigated two DOJ officials in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, but they were never charged,

        To be a bit more direct, the Abramoff emails show SPECIFCALLY that Abramoff, while whining and dining Ashcrofts COS, David Ayres, got classified info on the Marianna’s investigation from Ayres and made arrangements for Kevin Ring to get Ashcroft to quash that investigation during their bball get together. This absolutely should have been a slam dunk with respect to prosecution of Ayres at least. Nothing ever came of it – which makes you go back to wondering who the DOJ officials were (bc you’d like to think someone at least took a fly at Ayres and Ashcroft) and, again, if anyone in Congress is paying attention to the fact that while Congress is being scared off with stories of prosecution from even sharing necessary info about Sadaam’s non-ties with al-Qaeda before the Iraq AUMF vote, Ashcroft’s COS was kicking back in a sky box and handing off classified info to lobbyists so they could protect their clients from an investigation whose purpose was keeping America safe. And then quash not only the report – which COngress didn’t get to see for years – but also the careers of the DOJ lawyers who worked on it.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          re: Kevin Ring

          Here’s an excerpt from his forthcoming book:Revolutionary Felon

          The title of this post is inspired by a draft title for Kevin Ring’s book, an insider’s view of the Abramoff scandal. We’ve written about Ring’s book before, but the Justice Department kindly provided us excerpts of the rough draft of Mr. Ring’s book proposal just yesterday.

          Here’s an interesting snippet (page 13):

          I spent two years secretly cooperating with the FBI and DOJ on an investigation into the biggest lobbying scandal of the past 40 years. I was threatened with indictment and plead guilty [sic].

          [I was named Legislative Director for a Member of Congress at 24. I became a partner[1] in a major law firm at 31. I was a published author

          Anti Corruption RepublicanWilson’s appearance in the Kevin Ring indictment, concluding that she was ….. Kemp, a case approvingly cited by the Supreme Court in its recent string of …
          anticorruptionrepublican.blogspot.com/ – Cached – Similar

          NOTE: There a quite a few entries about Ring at this site.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            Anti Corruption Republican: Revolutionary FelonJul 20, 2010 … Revolutionary Felon. The title of this post is inspired by a draft title for Kevin Ring’s book, an insider’s view of the Abramoff scandal. …

            anticorruptionrepublican.blogspot.com/…/revolutionary-felon.html – Cached

          • Mary says:

            WTH?

            He has a book deal and a book coming out?

            Sheezlouise. Goldsmith generating a book tour out of his professional duties undone and Ring getting one for helping steal govt.

        • bobschacht says:

          …Abramoff, while whining and dining Ashcrofts COS, David Ayres, got classified info on the Marianna’s investigation from Ayres and made arrangements for Kevin Ring to get Ashcroft to quash that investigation during their bball get together.

          Yeah, that Abramoff was such a whiner.

          *g*

          Bob in AZ

          • Mary says:

            He really was – he was whining and whining to Ayres while dining him – my poor child labor/sideline prostitution clients can’t get a break, com’on Dave, cough up a lil sumpin sumpin for me. ;)

  17. Gitcheegumee says:

    How fortuitous that figs are presently in season.

    An abundance of fig leaves for both AP -this week,and WaPo ,last week.

  18. fatster says:

    Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy on the daily routine of reporting from Guantanamo. We were discussing Kafka recently. It’s all so familiar now.

    “I”ve covered Supreme Court arguments and murder and mayhem trials in Massachusetts Superior Court. I’ve reported spy cases, done gavel to gavel of a court martial. This is a court like none other I’ve ever seen.

    “You can’t get up in the morning and stand on line to cover it. You can’t bring a lawyer to protest if there’s a closure. The public and the press have no standing. Increasingly, you can’t read the motions in advance. You can’t ask the lawyers during a break to clarify something. You can’t go home at night. You can’t check into a hotel.
    . . .

    “When the topic comes up in court of what psychotropic drugs were given another accused 9/11 conspirator, Ramzi bin al Shibh, the courtroom censor hits a white noise button so reporters viewing from a glass booth can’t hear the names of the drugs. Why? One minder said it’s because Ramzi bin al Shibh has HIPAA health privacy rights. In a place where they still argue that the Constitution doesn’t apply.”

    MORE.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      From that article:

      “I don’t break the rules. I protest the ones that make no sense. Now they’ve got a new expansive interpretation of military censorship authority. A colleague calls it a bid to impose collective amnesia on reporters of things we’ve known for years.”

      Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/26/98146/commentary-for-reporters-the-rules.html#ixzz0uqEYE4K4

      Note: This passage reminds me of the virtual media embargo by the Coast Guard and BP in the early aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

      As a matter of fact,just earlier today I was googling “media denied access to Gulf Oil Spill”.

      “Collective amnesia of what we’ve known for years seems “to have been the modus operandi for the AP account that is the subject of this thread.

      BTW, thank you for this great link.

  19. Jeff Kaye says:

    Thanks, EW, for pointing out some of the more blatant inconsistencies in the AP story. I am grateful to the reporters for the new info, however. But if “the most aggressive tactics in U.S. history” don’t amount to use of the descriptor “torture,” then what ever will. “Terror tapes,” indeed.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to point out that it wasn’t that long ago when Jason Leopold, citing different intelligence sources, reported that there was more than one taping system at Thailand and the other black sites. The destroyed videotapes, with their poor quality and all, seem to belie the narrative that they were produced as any kind of evidence. They may have been to throw us off the trail of the real, digital taping system (which probably went to hard drive, as they did at Guantanamo).

    What could be on those tapes, besides waterboarding? Water dousing, according to Leopold’s sources and EW’s reckoning; burial in a box, as EW surmises, etc.

    I maintain that if (and Marcy notes something like this in the posting) what was going on pre-August 2002 (at least) was a research program into torture and interrogation, then what they don’t want us to see are the signs of such research, in addition to the torture. What kinds of signs? We know they used an oximeter during the waterboarding. We know they experimented with saline instead of water, for instance. Perhaps the tapes (or the actual, important version of the tapes, but the dupe, crappy set that was destroyed as well) show techs reading output from instruments; taking swabs of saliva after each and every waterboarding application, or at set times for the waterboarding and other applied techniques; taking multiple blood draws; giving medications; measuring heart rate, etc.

    In other words, it is not just torture they wish to cover-up, but the whole enchilada: torture and the evidence that they were studying psychological and physiological responses (as EW points out, for instance, with the sleep deprivation) as part of a fantastically illegal and unethical research program on torture.

    To EW @3 – yes, seems they had CIA sourcing on this, and didn’t double check it well enough. They could have read your coverage, for instance ;-)

    To Mary @16 and elsewhere – Yes, I’m glad you keep pounding on Padilla. Padilla also goes with Binyam Mohamed, and they are laundered, as you say, through Soufan’s interrogation of Zubaydah (which for some period of time, a few weeks at least, was done in tandem with Mitchell and his crew). Btw, I’m reading Johnathan Mahler’s book on the Hamdan case, The Challenge, and it’s interesting to see that Soufan turns up there as the interrogator of Hamdan, and presents a picture of him that paints him as somewhat more than he was as well. Soufan to this day presents Padilla and the “dirty bomb” scenario as some kind of example of what professional interrogation can produce. I know I’m in the minority on Soufan, and while he is not in the same league as the actual torturers, I don’t completely trust his version of events.

    One other thing on the AP story, it mentions that “Many dozens of CIA officers and contractors cycled in and out of Thailand to help with the questioning.” I don’t know if that’s been reported before. Maybe it has and I haven’t seen it. Seems knowing the identities of these others would be very helpful. How many were from JPRA (at least originally), for instance? How many were psychologists? etc.

    • bmaz says:

      You do not have to produce something as evidence for it to BE evidence. It existed, they knew it existed and that it impacted the detainees’ cases. It WAS evidence. Period.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        How does that old saying go,bmaz?

        “Evidence of lack doesn’t mean lack of evidence”.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Yes, I understand that legally they were evidence. I was speaking about them being the evidence, the better to hide other evidence, i.e., a purported second taping system. Thus far, nothing we could speak of as knowledge of the latter’s existence has been produced, outside of what sources have told reporters.

        There is circumstantial evidence of the latter’s existence, if we assume they were doing research on deception. Such research relies heavily on computer programs utilizing videotape recordings of subjects. We do know the CIA is very interested in research on deception, from published writings, and also from the existence of the CIA/RAND/APA conference that studied the issue in 2003 and again in 2004.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      What could be on those tapes, besides waterboarding? Water dousing, according to Leopold’s sources and EW’s reckoning; burial in a box, as EW surmises, etc.

      I maintain that if (and Marcy notes something like this in the posting) what was going on pre-August 2002 (at least) was a research program into torture and interrogation, then what they don’t want us to see are the signs of such research, in addition to the torture.

      NOTE: John Walker Lind’s torture,was pre-August,2002 and included being kept in a metal box,similar to a coffin.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Thanks for bringing up the JW Lindh torture, and reminding us of the box. I don’t really know much about his treatment, except it was cruel, he was beaten, held, etc. They slapped that silence oath upon him as part of the plea agreement, as they did with Hicks. I heard Hicks was going to forgo that and was writing a book about his experience, but I don’t know where that is going, or what happened with that.

        There is a hell of a lot we don’t know that happened, and what exactly Lindh went through in its entirety is part of that. The attorneys might know more, but most likely are sworn to secrecy, as are the attorneys at Gitmo, who can’t say what they know b/c everything said by their client is classified.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Thank you for the feedback.

          I just noticed that upthread,at #24,tvt expounds on Lindh and makes some interesting points.

      • Mary says:

        I wonder most about what might have been shown re: drugs.

        While drugging isn’t the worst of what could have or did happen to detainees, it had a much more clear and hard to wiggle around statutory prohibition. There, it was very much like the Geneva Conventions prohibitions against taking non-pows out of the country of detention – that is clearly specified in the Conventions as being a severe breach (which ties to the then existing version of the War Crimes Act, which makes severe breaches war crimes)

        Bybee’s interview references Goldsmith’s concerns that Yoo orally approved drugging and live burial. There were allegations in Padilla’s case that he was administered drugs, including hallucinogens – but his lawyers were never allowed access IIRC to the “state secret” info about that, and he had missing interview tapes as well.

        Right now you have CIA saying Zubaydah was in great mental health for his torture sessions – if you had tape of him being drugged and now have Zubaydah in an impaired mental state you would have CIA in a position of having to either argue that he was already very impaired and they lied to OLC about that when they started up his torture sessions, or argue that he was in a healthy mental state, but none of the things they did to him while he was in their exclusive custody and while they were administering statutorily prohibited drugs etc. caused his now-existing issues.

        I think his mental state and has the most to do with the failure to prosecute Zubaydah, but that is going to be lessened as the 8 year torture statute runs out on their acts. You can’t really do anything with him without his mental state being an issues and having anyone nail down facts as to his mental states puts CIA in the light of either being shown to be lying to OLC or to be responsible for is current state. So you can’t do much without nailing down facts demonstrate torture under even the OLC memos.

        OTOH, as long as they can keep him alive, the sols are running out and the Holder DOJ is helping insulate torturers in the meantime.

        But back to the point, drugging is not given the thumbs up under the memos and is even mentioned pretty specifically in the statute and memo. Jeff Kaye would be the one to say what the professional aspects might be apart from the Torture Act – involuntary administration of drugs for the purpose of making the upcoming torture more “poignant” if there is video of the mental health professional giving the drugs and consulting on the torture.

        And one of the issues for the contractors involved is that they had no OLC memo “reliance” protection bc even the website for OLC said specifically that the opinions were only for the benefit of members of gov.

    • irregulationary says:

      Jeff Kaye’s insight rings true. The spooks wish to see themselves as professionals and men of learning: not thugs, nor mere craftsmen, but practitioners of an elite science of educing information. To reinvent their age-old craft as a science, they need scientific data that will stand up to top-secret-compartmented peer review. It is inconceivable that they could resist the unparalleled opportunity to collect data from experimental subjects whose informed consent is not required, in purpose-built laboratories with 24×7 environmental control.

      Credible science requires not just experimental animals but also control animals. For example, a protocol may be applied to both a subject who has knowledge of Bin Laden, and a subject who is known to be ignorant and innocent. Measurements taken while the ignorant subject (the control) confesses falsely can be compared to those taken from the terrorist in an effort to distinguish physical signs of fabrication. The ignorant subject’s blood and spinal fluid may indicate the level of stimulus at which intelligent brain function ceases, in order to calibrate the stimulus given to the knowledgeable subject. A subject kept awake and shackled to the ceiling for N days can be compared to one who is fed the same diet of Ensure, kept awake for the same length of time, shackled to the ceiling of an identical cell, but heated or chilled to a precise core temperature.

      This may explain the extended solitary detention of so many subjects known to be ignorant and innocent.

      Jeff’s insight rings true again when it comes to additional digital imagery of the experimental sessions. It would be difficult to believe that the CIA did not uplink a real time video feed to a SCIF at Langley or Washington, giving higher-ups a virtual presence at the interrogation. Surely some of this video was recorded and watched again and again.

      We’ve been told of the destruction of the videos kept onsite in Thailand. But so far, nobody has asked the CIA whether there was a real-time uplink (surely there was), who viewed it, and what happened to the recordings made from it.

  20. Gitcheegumee says:

    Jeff, Good evening and once again, thank you for all you do and for what you stand for.

    A couple of threads back,(Net Roots Nation: Close Gitmo),thatvisionthing and I were discussing John Walker Lindh.

    tvt was trying to ascertain if anyone knows if tapes were made of Lindh’s torture/interrogations;and ,if so,were the tapes destroyed? I don’t know,do you?

    Here’s what I posted,for the sake of the record and for timeline:

    Re: John Walker Lindh aka the Original Bush era torture victim,(from an earlier posting of mine)

    RE: Michael Chertoff,Lindh plea deal and gag order-July 15,2002

    The court scheduled an evidence suppression hearing, at which Lindh would have been able to testify about the details of the torture to which he claimed he was subjected. The government faced the problem that a key piece of evidence — Lindh’s confession — might be excluded from evidence as having been forced under duress.
    To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, then-head of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, directed the prosecutors to offer Lindh a plea bargain, to which, Lindh would plead guilty to two charges: — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence, and he would have to drop any claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. In return, all other charges would be dropped.

    Lindh accepted this offer. On July 15, 2002, he entered his plea of guilty to the two remaining charges. The judge asked Lindh to say, in his own words, what he was admitting to. Lindh’s allocution went as follows: “I plead guilty”, he said. “I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to December. In the course of doing so, I carried a rifle and two grenades. I did so knowingly and willingly knowing that it was illegal.”~~~~~~~~~~Wiki

    NOTE: This Lindh pleading could have explained to some degree why Chertoff said “You cant write a get out of jail free card,” the very next day,July 16,2002, the day of the “Yoo” meeting.

  21. fatster says:

    We the Citizens have no right to know; the gubmint has the right to conceal.

    Judge [Hellerstein] Rules CIA Can Withhold Info about Illegal Methods
    Monday, July 26, 2010

    “A federal judge has backed CIA efforts to conceal information about treatment of detainees, even if the suppressed records contain details about illegal activity on the part of the intelligence agency.”

    LINK.

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    Jim White did an interesting piece earlier this year. Here’s a snippet:

    The USS Bataan: From Floating Prison Ship to Floating Hospital and Haiti Relief Distribution Site

    By: Jim White Wednesday February 3, 2010 7:57 pm

    In one of the darkest chapters in the US history of rendition and secret prisons in the war on terror, a number of ships were used as floating prisons. Clive-Stafford Smith’s Reprieve has the following information on the USS Bataan:

    USS Bataan is one of the US government’s most infamous ‘floating prisons’. Prison ships have been used by the US to hold terror suspects illegally since the days of President Clinton.

    At least nine prisoners are confirmed to have been held aboard the USS Bataan, including Ibn Al-Sheikh Al-Libi, who recently died in mysterious circumstances in Libyan custody.

    Other prisoners held aboard the USS Bataan include John Walker Lindh and David Hicks.

    • TheOracle says:

      Interesting.

      Wasn’t the USS Bataan also the U.S. Navy hospital ship positioned off the Louisiana coast following Hurricane Katrina which wasn’t used, or at least not used to the fullest extent it could have been used? Rescue helicopters. Freshwater facilities. Hospital beds. Food. And indications that it was ordered to stand-down after New Orleans flooded and so many were stranded on rooftops or ended up suffering at the Superdome. That USS Bataan?

      Of course, if there were detainees being held and tortured onboard the USS Bataan as it sat off the Louisiana coast, then I can understand why the DOD didn’t want any unwelcome visitors onboard.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        For purposes of brevity, I edited out THAT part of the story-but yes, in Jim White’s thread, that issue of Katrina is addressed.

  23. TheOracle says:

    “There are very clear reasons why the torturers and those in CTC who authorized that torture–starting with Jose Rodriguez–might not want evidence that they exceeded limits on torture lying around in a safe in Thailand.”

    What about in the man-sized safe in Dick Cheney’s office?

    Anyway, didn’t I read years ago that CIA/private contractor torture techniques being used on detainees were actually demonstrated in front of top Bush administration officials, sans videotaping? Or were these torture-demonstration sessions also videotaped, with the videotapes (if any) also being destroyed?

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Something else laying safely in Thailand is Viktor Bout.who escaped extradition to the US,although in February of this year, additional charges were filed by the US against him and his American partner.

      Commonly referred to as “The Merchant of Death” ,the basis for the Nick Cage character (in the movie of the same name),Bout ,IIRC ,was involved for several years in CIA rendition flights to black sites.

      Bout owned aero firms and was linked to Charles Taylor of Liberia,who coincidentally is presently on trial at the Hague for alleged war crimes.

      • bmaz says:

        Bout is a bad man, but the US case against him is a trumped up bunch of bullshit and that is exactly what the Thai court held.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m w/bmaz. Bout is a terrible man. But the only reason we’re prosecuting him is because he’s no longer our terrible man and therefore we’d like to use him for intelligence purposes.

        • DWBartoo says:

          One suspects that other “bad men”, the very sort our National Security State likes to “recruit” for various “purposes” or “undertakings”, have noted that “we” blow rather hot and cold, desiring “their” assistance on the one hand, and then, as “expediency” pragmatically demands, we determine, on the other, that these unsavory sorts have either gone “too” rogue or of no further use to us, having outlived their usefulness.

          Sometimes, our “disgust” is merely for domestic “consumption”, as it were, and is simply a “front” to allow to us to continue to funnel money, as bribes or “safe passage” through disputed … “terrain” … to those we, ostensibly, have no “truck” with.

          Now, I ask you, if there cannot be honor among thieves, thugs, and tyrants, where on earth may it be found?

          I fear our reputation among Bad Men, may be irredeemably tarnished.

          That will not serve us well … “looking forward”, one imagines.

          I would claim this as snark, but suspect it too true …

          DW

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            It is also noteworthy that many of Bout’s operations are based in Eastern European countries that have been mentioned in association with the rendition and transporting of CIA prisoners. Bout’s numerous Russian-built cargo and passenger planes have been seen at the same airports used by CIA flights. For example, Bright Aviation, a suspected Bout front, is based at Sofia Airport in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is believed to be one of the countries used by the CIA to house secret prisoners. Another Bout front, Moldtransavia SRL, is based in Chisinau, Moldova, another suspected stopover point for CIA flights.

            One Chisinau, Moldova-based Bout front company, Aerocom, which also does business as Air Mero, is contracted to fly for Kellogg, Brown & Root in Iraq and elsewhere. Aerocom has also been cited in UN and DEA reports for being involved in drug smuggling in Belize. After being subjected to news reports, Aerocom quickly changed its name last year.

            http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/12/329754.html

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          I completely agree with both you and Bmaz’s assessment,

          Now what I find intriguing is the TIMING of the additional charges that the US was adding on in Feb of this year.

          WHAT else was going on in February that potentially could have been a catalyst to engender these new charges against Bout?

  24. Gitcheegumee says:

    Additionally, History Commons has an exceptional series of entries for Viktor Bout.

    Most specifically:

    Context of ‘Late April 2003-2007: US Military Repeatedly Hires Victor Bout Companies for Iraq Supply Flights, Despite Sanctions and Media Reports’

    This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event Late April 2003-2007: US Military Repeatedly Hires Victor Bout Companies for Iraq Supply Flights, Despite Sanctions and Media Reports.

    NOTE: This is a veritable treasure trove of historical timeline and info re: Bout.