Cofer Black Gets to Rebut Torture Report that Shouldn’t Include Him

Brennan with TortureIn a piece that gets at some of the points of leverage between the White House and CIA over torture, Mark Mazzetti describes George Tenet’s effort to “challenge” the torture report.

It suggests Brennan’s close ties to Tenet — Brennan was once Tenet’s Chief of Staff – led the CIA Director to reach out to Tenet to lead pushback. It describes how Brennan’s close ties to Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough from when he served as White House Counterterrorism Czar led McDonough to intervene when Dianne Feinstein tried to require any CIA review to take place in Senate Intelligence Committee space.

All that’s beside the real source of CIA’s power over the White House — the fact that torture operated as a Presidentially-authorized covert op for years, as has the drone program, which means CIA has the ability to implicate both George Bush personally (and Obama, in illegal drone strikes), as well as the Office of the President more generally.

My favorite detail, however, is that Cofer Black has also been involved in this pushback campaign.

Just after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted in April to declassify hundreds of pages of a withering report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program, C.I.A. Director John O. Brennan convened a meeting of the men who had played a role overseeing the program in its seven-year history.

The spies, past and present, faced each other around the long wooden conference table on the seventh floor of the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Northern Virginia: J. Cofer Black, head of the agency’s counterterrorism center at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks; the undercover officer who now holds that job; and a number of other former officials from the C.I.A.’s clandestine service. Over the speakerphone came the distinctive, Queens-accented voice of George J. Tenet.

Over the past several months, Mr. Tenet has quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report, which could become public next month. [my emphasis]

According to Ken Dilianian’s version of the same story, Black will not be allowed to preview the report — he’s probably among the dozen people who thought they could review it but recently learned they would not be able to.

About a dozen officials were called in recent days and told they could read the executive summary at a secure room at the Office of Director of National Intelligence, as long as they agreed not to discuss it, four former officials said.

Then, on Friday, CIA officials called them and told them that due to a miscommunication, only former CIA directors and deputy directors would be given that privilege. Former directors Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet have been invited to read it, as have former acting directors John McLaughlin and Michael Morell.

Black’s involvement, of course, should be a story unto itself.

According to the CIA’s official version of torture, it got authorized under the September 17, 2001 Finding by language authorizing the capture and detention of top Al Qaeda officials. But they didn’t start considering torture until they picked up Abu Zubaydah at the end of March in 2002. They didn’t start torturing, the official story goes, until DOJ gave them the green light in August 1, 2002.

Why, then, would Black need to be involved in the torture pushback?

He left the Counterterrorism Director spot in May 2002, well before the torture started — at least according to the CIA version, but not the personal experience of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi and Binyam Mohamed, both of whom got tortured before Black’s departure. In his book Jose Rodriguez claims, falsely, the torture program started in June, and he led it. If this official CIA chronology is correct, Black should have had no role — and no personal interest — in the torture program.

And yet there he is with the other torturers, leading pushback.

Even in their pushback effort, then, the CIA proves that they’ve been lying for years.

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9 Responses to Cofer Black Gets to Rebut Torture Report that Shouldn’t Include Him

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bmaz @AnthonyMKreis Love to see the District court send a couple of US Marshals over to arrest the prick on a contempt charge.
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emptywheel @joshgerstein Yeah, one guy looked like he could be South Asian, plus the Asian. @illLeagleNews @mattapuzzo
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emptywheel In last ¶ Obama quoted as claiming he has found quiet pressure effective on Saudi human rights. By what measure? http://t.co/zfEx8e3Ftx
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emptywheel Surely it pains Clapper that NGA will win the fuckup of the month award this month. He'll prolly let some other scandal drop to avoid it.
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel And there's a little picture in Clapper's office of IC employee who wins that month's biggest fuckup, like Employee of Month at Burger King
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emptywheel I honestly think the intel agencies have a secret monthly pool for which agency can be the biggest fuckup that month. #FuckUpOfTheMonthAward
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emptywheel Anyone have insight on why you'd make drilling off East Coast available when 1) record low prices 2) increasingly bad Atlantic storms?
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emptywheel @mattblaze No, doesn't work, bc CIA will spy on anyone they want with impunity. Lesson is to get DiFi to oppose, make her experience it
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emptywheel @mattblaze She's also opposed to domestic drones. Also because she's got firsthand experience. And the lesson is ...
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emptywheel @theurbansherpa Of course, it's probably case that because those threats wore off nothing can convince me to clean my room now. No.Thing.
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emptywheel @theurbansherpa Wouldn't have caused you that pain if it weren't for his birthday, which deserves tribute, I think. Also, my room's a mess.
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emptywheel Shorter DiFi: Evan Bayh is a moron. http://t.co/O7UjfW3NHL (We could have told you that years ago, Senator)
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