Philip Zelikow

Philip Zelikow Saves Condi Rice’s Hiney (Again)

Back in April 2009, former State Department Counselor and all-around Condi Rice fixer Philip Zelikow revealed that “in 2005,” he had written a dissent to Steven Bradbury’s 2005 Memo finding the torture program complied with the Convention against Torture, but that most copies of it had been destroyed by the Administration.

At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn’t entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that:  The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department’s archives.

It turns out that David Addington didn’t succeed in destroying all the copies. The National Security Archive just liberated a copy.

Now, the memo (which was actually dated February 15, 2006) reveals Zelikow’s very sane legal argument that our torture program had to comply with the 8th Amendment. But it also reveals some subtleties about the bureaucratic maneuvering around torture. Notably, that Zelikow was trying to save Condi Rice’s arse again.

To understand why, go back to this post (see also this post), explaining what Bradbury was trying to do with his 2005 CAT Memo: respond to explicit concerns raised by Congress (probably Jay Rockefeller) about whether our torture program complied with the CAT. It shows how (as documented in the narrative on the process that Rockefeller released), the Senate Intelligence Committee had forced the Bush Administration to agree to consider whether our torture program violated CAT. The Administration agreed to do so only after the National Security Council–then chaired by Condi Rice–agreed.

According to CIA records, subsequent to the meeting with the Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman in July 2004, the CIA met with the NSC Principals to discuss the CIA’s program. At the conclusion of that meeting, it was agreed that the CIA would formally request that OLC prepare a written opinion addressing whether the CIA’s proposed interrogation techniques would violate substantive constitutional standards, including those of the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments regardless of whether or not those standards were deemed applicable to aliens detained abroad.

DOJ stalled for 10 months. Daniel Levin, as acting head of OLC, approved more individual torture techniques. Levin wrote an unclassified memo ignoring CAT. Congress continued to pressure. The Administration laterally transferred Levin because he wasn’t writing the memos they wanted, authorizing combined techniques and waterboarding and, somehow, finding that torture program complied with CAT. Bradbury got the job to write those memos. And then, finally, 10 months after SSCI demanded that DOJ consider CAT, Bradbury wrote his memo finding that the torture program did not violate CAT’s prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

I lay out in the post the specious tricks Bradbury pulled to make that claim, and scribe laid out the legal reasons the arguments were so specious. But in specific regard to SSCI’s demand that OLC review whether the program complied with the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment, Bradbury punted by saying it didn’t have to, and certainly didn’t have to comply with the Eighth.

Based on CIA assurances, we understand that the interrogations do not take place in any … areas over which the United States exercises at least de facto authority as the government. … We therefore conclude that Article 16 is inapplicable to the CIA’s interrogation practices and that those practices thus cannot violate Article 16.

[snip]

Because the high value detainees on whom the CIA might use enhanced interrogation techniques have not been convicted of any crime, the substantive requirements of the Eighth Amendment would not be relevant here, even if we assume that Article 16 has application to the CIA’s interrogation program.

After reading drafts of such bullshit, Jim Comey tried to convince Bradbury to fix it–to no avail.

Of note, however, here’s what then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Condi–who had become Secretary of State in the interim–had to say about the importance of complying with our treaty obligations.

The AG began by saying that Dr. Rice was not interested in discussing details and that her attitude was that if DOJ said it was legal and CIA said it was effective, then that ended it, without a need for detailed policy discussion.

And so, with the Secretary of State dismissing treaty obligations by saying “that ended it,” torture got approved for use by the Executive Branch again.

Zelikow’s memo admits that State didn’t object to Bradbury’s memo.

The State Department agreed with the Justice Department May 2005 conclusion that [Article 16] did not apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.

Now, Zelikow claims that passage of the McCain amendment–which was signed on December 30, 2005–is what changed the State Department’s interpretation. Continue reading

John Bellinger: If the War Is Illegal, Just Change the Law

John Bellinger has been publicly suggesting the Obama Administration had exceeded the terms of the AUMF for some time. So it is unsurprising that he took the opportunity of a Republican House, the incoming Armed Services Chair’s explicit support for a new AUMF, and the Ghailani verdict to more fully develop his argument in an op-ed. It’s a well-crafted op-ed, such as in the way it avoids explicitly saying the government has been breaking the law in its pursuit of terrorism, when he pretends the only people we’ve been targeting in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia are al Qaeda leaders.

The Bush and Obama administrations have relied on this authority to wage the ground war in Afghanistan; to exert lethal force (including drone strikes) against al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; and to detain suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

In fact, the targets include a heck of a lot of grunts and many people with terrorist ties, but not direct affiliation with al Qaeda. Oh, and a bunch of civilians, but I guess we’re to assume the government just has bad aim.

Then there’s this game attempt to pretend that everyone will find something to love in the Forever War.

Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Obama administration, congressional Republicans and Democrats, and civil liberties groups all have an interest in updating this aging legislation. Republicans should be willing to help the president ensure that combatant commanders and intelligence agencies have ample legal authority to kill or capture terrorists who threaten the United States today. Many Republicans also want to give clearer statutory direction to federal judges regarding who may be detained and for how long. For their part, civil liberties groups and their Democratic supporters in Congress can insist that terrorist suspects who are U.S. nationals receive additional protections before being targeted and that persons detained now or in the future under the laws of war have a right to adequate administrative or judicial review.

As if Republicans weren’t already clamoring for more war and more war powers. As if there would be any doubt that Republicans would answer the “who may be detained and for how long” with any answer but, “Forever War, Baby!” As if dubbing the new AUMF “the al-Awlaki and PETA law”–putting some limits on the targeting of American citizens that presumably already exist–would be enough to entice civil libertarians (whom, Bellinger seems to suggest, only have support among Democrats).

And did you notice how Bellinger slipped in giving intelligence agencies the legal authority to kill terrorists? One of the problems–though Bellinger doesn’t say this explicitly–is that we’re increasingly using non-military personnel to target drones, which raises legal questions about whether they’re not unprivileged combatants in the same way al Qaeda is.

In any case, the lawyer did his work on this op-ed.

But here’s what I find to be the most interesting detail in it:

For at least five years, lawyers in and outside the Bush and Obama administrations have recognized the need to replace this act with a clearer law. The Bush administration chose not to seek an update because it did not want to work with the legislative branch.

Which I translate to read, “Back in 2005, several lawyers in the Bush Administration and I [I'm assuming Comey and Zelikow and Matthew Waxman] told the President he was breaking the law and should ask for an updated AUMF. But in spite of the fact that Congress was at that very moment passing the Detainee Treatment Act, the Bush White House claimed it couldn’t work with Congress to rewrite the AUMF to try to give the war they were already fighting some legal cover.”

Though of course, in 2005, Bush’s lawyers may have been trying to pretty up the fact that their illegal wiretap program–which constituted the use of military powers within the United States against US citizens–some kind of pretty face before it was exposed.

We’ve been fighting the Forever Whoever War since at least 2005. And now this clever lawyer wants to make sure the Forever War is legally sanctioned for the foreseeable future.

Did Addington Oppose 9/11 Commission Questions to Avoid Independent Evaluation of Torture Program?

Shortly after news broke that CIA destroyed the torture tapes, the 9/11 Commission issued a letter complaining that they had not been told of–much less been allowed to review–the torture tapes.

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

They released a memo from Philip Zelikow describing how the Administration refused to allow the 9/11 Commission direct access to detainees in early 2004.

The full Commission considered this issue in a meeting on January 5, 2004 and decided the CIA responses were insufficient. It directed the staff to prepare a letter to administration officials that would make the dispute public. There were then discussions between Hamilton and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and several meetings of CIA lawyers with Commission staff. The Commission offered various compromises to avoid disrupting the interrogation process, including direction or observation of questioning in real-time using one-way glass, adjoining rooms, or similar techniques. In a January 15, 2004 memo to Gonzales, Muller, and Undersecretary of Defense Steve Cambone, Zelikow wrote, “We remain ready to work creatively with you on any option that can allow us to aid the intelligence community in cross-examining the conspriators on many critical details, clarify for us what the conspirators are actually saying, and allow us to evaluate the credibility of these replies.”

But these negotiations made little progress. Hamilton and commissioner Fred Fielding then met with Gonzales, Tenet, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Chris Wray from the Department of Justice. The administration offered to take sets of written followup questions, pose them to detainees, relay answers back to the Commission, and take further questions. In a January 26, 2004 meeting the Commission accepted this proposal as the best information it could obtain to address its longstanding questions.

Today’s document dump includes an interesting snapshot of the Administration response to the Commission request. (PDF 25-30)

It appears that David Addington took the lead on refusing the 9/11 Commission’s request. It appears Addington got the draft of the letter from 9/11 Commission–which was addressed to Rummy and George Tenet. Tenet and Addington clearly had a conversation about how to respond. But it seems that Addington drafted the response, got Condi, Andy Card, and Alberto Gonzales to review it, and then sent it to Tenet (and, presumably, Rummy) to okay and sign the letter.

In other words, OVP had the lead in refusing the 9/11 Commission’s request for more information from the detainees.

The document is also interesting for the underlining on the letter from the Commission. While it’s not clear who made the markings (though it seems likely to be Addington since that version of the letter clearly came from him), whoever made them appears to have reacted strongly against the Commission’s intention to independently evaluate the detainees and their interrogations. Continue reading

A Catalog of the Destroyed Torture Evidence

I just re-read Philippe Sands’ Torture Team and, given the news of disappearing emails and documents, this passage struck me anew:

[Mike Dunlavey, who was in charge of Gitmo as they put together the torture plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani] would have liked to have gone back to the daily diaries and schedules that were kept on the computer system, together with reports that were sent out on a daily basis, and details of the videoconferences that had taken place with the Pentagon. “I need to see that stuff,” he mused, “how am I going to get it?” It seemed doubtful that he would. “They were backed up at SOUTHCOM,” he explained, but “a couple of months after I left there was a SNAFU and all was lost.”

Sands goes onto wonder whether there might be a connection to the destruction of the torture tapes. Dunlavey left Gitmo in November 2002, so those materials would have been lost in late 2002 or early 2003, when we now know people were panicking about what to do about the torture tapes. That was also between the time when–at the end of November 2002–a lawyer from CIA’s Office of General Counsel reviewed the tapes and claimed they matched the torture logs exactly, and the time when–in May 2003–CIA’s Inspector General discovered they weren’t an exact match. More importantly, CIA IG discovered there were 11 blank tapes, 2 broken ones, and 2 more mostly blank ones, suggesting that a first round of efforts to hide evidence on the torture tapes took place before CIA’s IG reviewed them.

In other words, this “SNAFU” happened around the same time as the first round of destruction of the torture tapes took place.

Since there are so many incidences of destroyed or disappearing torture evidence, I thought it time to start cataloging them, to keep them all straight.

  • Before May 2003: 15 of 92 torture tapes erased or damaged
  • Early 2003: Dunlavey’s paper trail “lost”
  • Before August 2004: John Yoo and Patrick Philbin’s torture memo emails deleted
  • June 2005: most copies of Philip Zelikow’s dissent to the May 2005 CAT memo destroyed
  • November 8-9, 2005: 92 torture tapes destroyed
  • July 2007 (probably): 10 documents from OLC SCIF disappear
  • December 19, 2007: Fire breaks out in Cheney’s office

(I put in the Cheney fire because it happened right after DOJ started investigating the torture tape destruction.)

There are two more evidence-related issues pertaining to the torture program.

First, recall that the government has refused to turn over all of Abu Zubaydah’s diaries to him [update: here's a more updated description of the diaries status from Jason Leopold]. The status of both the diaries and the legal argument over them remains largely sealed, so we can’t know for sure whether all the diaries remain intact. I believe they are just being withheld and haven’t been destroyed, but we don’t know for sure.

Also, remember that Alberto Gonzales was wandering around DC with a briefcase full of CYA documents just after he became Attorney General. Among those documents were draft and final versions of OLC opinions relating to torture, and possibly memos describing some operational aspects of the program.

The classified materials that are the subject of this investigation consist of notes that Gonzales drafted to memorialize a classified briefing of congressional leaders about the NSA surveillance program when Gonzales was the White House Counsel; draft and final Office of Legal Counsel opinions about both the NSA surveillance program and a detainee interrogation program; correspondence from congressional leaders to the Director of Central Intelligence; and other memoranda describing legal and operational aspects of the two classified programs.

Since this briefcase appears to have been about CYA, it is unlikely Gonzales would have destroyed any of them. But we know only that they were not in secure custody for about two years.

In other words, at least five pieces of evidence on torture has disappeared or been destroyed. But it could well be more than that.

John Durham? For a guy investigating disappearing evidence, you’ve been awfully quiet…

Dick Cheney’s Torture Kabuki

I wanted to pull three threads together in this post, which suggest how Cheney instituted torture in this country:

  • Alberto Gonzales may have been approving torture even while Condi Rice and others went through the show of getting an OLC opinion to authorize it;
  • CIA claimed to be briefing Congress when it wasn’t;
  • The Bush Administration then claimed Congress had bought off on torture to persuade those objecting to torture within the administration.

There are also certain parallels with the way Cheney implemented his illegal wiretap program.

Alberto Gonzales’ approvals

As Ari Shapiro reported last week, Alberto Gonzales was personally approving the techniques Mitchell’s torturers would use on a daily basis.

The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

We know there’s cable traffic from the field back to CIA HQ every day. And we know there’s a May 28, 2002, 4-page cable from HQ back to the Field that roughly corresponds to when Ali Soufan has said the torturers brought out the small box in which they eventually confined Abu Zubaydah. This may mean there’s a seven-week gap between the time the harshest techniques were first okayed, and the time Condi purportedly gave the torture program its first okay on July 17, 2002. As I noted the other day, this raises the possibility that the OLC approval process was all just show, basically endorsing torture that had gone on for some time already.

Is it possible that when Bellinger and Condi asked for an OLC opinion, the CIA’s torturers were already hard at work, and it’s only because Bellinger asked for an opinion that they even bothered? If Gonzales was relaying daily approvals for torture directly to the torturers in the field, then why would it appear that Condi was the one who "approved" the program in mid-July? Why not Gonzales?

It’s a possibility that one of Shapiro’s sources is contemplating.

"I can’t believe the CIA would have settled for a piece of paper from the counsel to the president," says one former government official familiar with those discussions.

Continue reading

The 9/11 Commission and Torture

The Daily Beast is out with a story reporting that much of the information from the 9/11 Commission Report came from detainees who had been subjected to torture. That story has been picked up by people claiming, "Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived … during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration," which is not what the Daily Beast reports (though the original NBC report uses similar language, stating that the "critical information it used in [the 9/11 Report] was the product of harsh interrogations."

As someone halfway through such a study myself (and who spent much of last week combing through the 9/11 Archives), let me caution about the language used here. Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Report came from detainees–particularly KSM–after they had been tortured.  But we have no evidence that the evidence came exclusively from torture, and we have a great deal of evidence that little of the information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah came from waterboarding.

I’ve written about how little the 9/11 Commission actually used from Abu Zubaydah here (just 10 pieces of intelligence in the entire report, one of which almost certainly came before he was waterboarded), and how the Commission used just slightly more from al-Nashiri (16 pieces of intelligence, almost all of it either corroborated with other reports or–in two cases–the accuracy of which the Commission questioned). So the story for Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri is that while the 9/11 Commission may have gotten a lot of information from them (though as late as 2004, they said they hadn’t gotten much from al-Nashiri), they didn’t use it. 

The story with KSM, though, is different. Huge swaths of the report rely on interrogations of KSM. Here’s an incomplete compilation of the intelligence the 9/11 Commission got from KSM (this hasn’t been proofed).  It shows:

  • Hundreds of claims in the 9/11 Report rely on KSM’s interrogation reports
  • The most productive interrogations with KSM came several months after he was waterboarded, in sessions in July, August, and November 2003 and February 2004
  • Just five of 127 citations of KSM interrogations catalogued thus far (remember, I’m only halfway) came within the month after he was waterboarded
  • One of the early citations–asserting a year-long al Qaeda anthrax program–may have come as a result of waterboarding
  • The only KSM reference to Moussaoui thus far (there are others, I think) came from the month of the harshest torture

Continue reading

Philip Zelikow: How BushCo Gamed the Briefing Process

One more important point on the briefing process.

In this exchange between Dick Durbin and Philip Zelikow, Zelikow makes clear how the briefing process is supposed to work.

ZELIKOW: Formally, what’s supposed to happen is, a memorandum of notification is prepared that lets key members of Congress know that a program is being undertaken with the authorization of the president, pursuant to some prior presidential finding.

And therefore, members of Congress are being informed…

DURBIN: After…

ZELIKOW: … pursuant to this finding, we are now doing certain things.

DURBIN: After the fact?

ZELIKOW: It could be after the fact. It should be at the time the program is initiated and before the program is implemented, so that it appears that you’re taking the congressional consultation seriously, which the administration should.

The President prepares a memorandum of notification for "key members" of Congress to let them know a program "is being undertaken with the authorization of the president, pursuant to some prior presidential finding." So: a finding, then authorization.

Durbin presses him on whether Congressional notification should be before or after and Zelikow states that–so "it appears" that you’re taking Congressional consultation seriously–the notification should happen at the time the program is initiated (which, in the case of the torture program, would have been no later than July 2002). 

Now, when Durbin asks Zelikow directly whether Congress got that before the fact briefing in this case, Zelikow claims ignorance. 

DURBIN: So, when members of Congress were briefed of this, was it before the fact? Were they being asked to authorize these techniques and give their approval?

ZELIKOW: Sir, I think Senator Feinstein mentioned, SSCI is apparently really trying to break down the chronology. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been publicizing chronologies of briefings, which then need to be matched up against when we were actually doing things.

And so, the honest answer is, I don’t know whether folks were briefed before the fact.

Yes, Zelikow, you do know whether folks were briefed before the fact. There’s the SSCI narrative (to which DiFi’s work–alluded to by Zelikow–is follow-up), which states clearly that Congress got briefed after Abu Zubaydah had already been tortured.

In the fall of 2002, after the use of interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah, CIA records indicate that the CIA briefed the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee on the interrogation. [my emphasis]

Or, you can compare this passage from the Bradbury memo

The CIA used the waterboard "at least 83 times during August 2002" in the interrogation of Zubaydah.

… with the CIA briefing list showing the first Congressional briefing on September 4, 2003. Continue reading

Whitehouse: Laying the Groundwork for the Torture Case

KeithO had Sheldon Whitehouse on this evening to set up his torture hearing tomorrow (10 AM, and yes, I’m liveblogging it). Here’s what Whitehouse said he hopes to accomplish tomorrow.

I hope what America will learn is that the facts that were alleged in the torture memos are very likely not true, the legal theories were contested even by Bush Administration lawyers who weren’t in on the fix, and a little bit about what the consequences are for lawyers who commit professional malfeasance.

I explained how Ali Soufan has (and will) shown that "the facts that were alleged in the torture memos" are not true here:

Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator described in the DOJ IG report on interrogation as the interrogator (whom they call "Thomas") who called CIA’s tactics on AZ, "borderline torture," has an important op-ed in the NYT. He writes,

One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. 

I pointed this out myself, in a post on why the debate over whether these techniques were necessary and effective is so heated.

Check out what the second paragraph of the Bybee Memo says:

Our advice is based upon the following facts, which you have provided to us. We also understand that you do not have any facts in your possession contrary to the facts outlined here, and this opinion is limited to these facts. If these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply. Zubaydah is currently being held by the United States. The interrogation team is certain that he has additional information that he refuses to divulge. Specifically, he is withholding information regarding terrorist networks in the United Stares or in Saudi Arabia and information regarding plans to conduct attacks within the United States or against our interests overseas. Zubaydah has become accustomed to a certain level of treatment and displays no signs of willingness to disclose further information. Moreover, your intelligence indicates that there is currently level of "chatter" equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks. In light of the information you believe Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an "increased pressure phase." [my emphasis]

Here’s what Ali Soufan says:

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Continue reading

Zelikow’s Dissent and Rockefeller’s Question

Dalybean made an important point in EPU-land of the Gestation of Bradbury’s Torture Memos thread. As I pointed out in that thread, the May 30 Bradbury memo was a response–at least in part–to Congress’ demand that the Administration assess whether their torture program complied with the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments as they fulfilled the US obligation under the Convention Against Torture.

Well, that was one of the biggest points Phillip Zelikow made in his dissent to the May 30, 2005 torture memo.

At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn’t entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that:  The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department’s archives. 

Stated in a shorthand way, mainly for the benefit of other specialists who work these issues, my main concerns were:

  • the case law on the "shocks the conscience" standard for interrogations would proscribe the CIA’s methods;
  • the OLC memo basically ignored standard 8th Amendment "conditions of confinement" analysis (long incorporated into the 5th amendment as a matter of substantive due process and thus applicable to detentions like these). That case law would regard the conditions of confinement in the CIA facilities as unlawful.
  • the use of a balancing test to measure constitutional validity (national security gain vs. harm to individuals) is lawful for some techniques, but other kinds of cruel treatment should be barred categorically under U.S. law — whatever the alleged gain. [my emphasis]

Zelikow, with a background in this area of law, wrote a dissent to the torture memo ripping its legal analysis. Significantly, Zelikow hit on one point that Congress was hitting on too: the importance of the Eighth Amendment in our compliance with the Convention Against Torture. As Zelikow apparently pointed out, the case law surrounding the Eighth Amendment said that even these detainees were entitled to protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

Continue reading

Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission, and Effectiveness

If you’ve been paying attention, you know I’ve been poring through the 9/11 Report to figure out how useful the interrogation reports from the waterboarded detainees were, and when they made them.

That exercise shows that the 9/11 Report found just 10 pieces of intelligence from Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation reports informative and credible; it found just 16 pieces of such intelligence in al-Nashiri’s interrogation reports. And while the Commission did find KSM’s interrogation reports to be incredibly useful, an incomplete index (I’m working on this, but it’s on the back burner for the next week) of the references to KSM show that many of his most productive interrogation sessions came long after he was waterboarded. And, as Philip Zelikow made clear in a memo relating to the torture tape destruction, there were abundant other problems with the quality of the interrogation reports coming from CIA, too.

I emailed Zelikow yesterday to see if he would answer some more questions on this. He hasn’t responded and I haven’t had time to follow-up.

But it looks like I may not have to. Zelikow promises to address some of these issues shortly.

I will have more to say on the topic of effectiveness later. 

Of particular interest, he makes this promise to address the effectiveness of torture in the context of the work the 9/11 Commission did with Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator who called George Bush a liar yesterday.

I met and interviewed Soufan in the course of my work at the 9/11 Commission, while he was still doing important work at the FBI. From my commission work, my fellow staffers and I had direct knowledge about several of the specific assertions Soufan makes in this piece: about Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. My fellow staffers and I considered Soufan to be credible. Indeed, Soufan is fluent in Arabic, and he seemed to us to be one of the more impressive intelligence agents — from any agency — that we encountered in our work.

If the 9/11 Commission spoke with Soufan about AZ’s treatment (Zelikow does not say they did, though he does say they asked why Soufan’s KSM-expert colleague wasn’t involved in those interrogations), it might explain why only 10 pieces of intelligence from AZ show up in the 9/11 Report. 

In this post, Zelikow also confirms something I suggested this afternoon. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @walterwkatz @gideonstrumpet @ScottGreenfield @LilianaSegura @roomfordebate Yes, that was a nice little touch, no? Jeebus.
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @LegallyErin: There's something very sexy about Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal. I always date the worst guys.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @imraansiddiqi You seemed like such a respectable chap, and now here you are talking about Kardashians. #Shame
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @cody_k I went as a Pando journalist blowing shit out of my ass about Greenwald.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @dcbigjohn @erinscafe In or out of the furry costume?
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @AntheaButler: Hands up, don't shoot. RT @deray: Superhero protest. #Ferguson http://t.co/ejnhDLq7jv
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes And I ask because that was why I blew off the injunction+contemplated whether were provable damages.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes Question since you are in state there, is hearing even possible before the injunction would be moot?
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes Exactly. But with the defenses, hard to see an injunction burden being met.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes Not to mention the actual public figure blah blah blah that will lead the defense. Meh.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JoshuaADouglas @rickhasen @chrislhayes I think that's debatable, but assuming so, what are provable damages in an election context?
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz The Guantánamo Tapes http://t.co/r6JfRJl7r4 Yes, of course force feeding tapes depict torture, why you think govt fights to keep classified?
3hreplyretweetfavorite
November 2014
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30