Congress and the Torture Tapes

First, let me start with some congratulations. For once, Jane Harman appears to have been on the right side of an issue, in this case warning the CIA (in writing) not to destroy the torture tapes. She’s now demanding that Michael Hayden declassify that letter so we can all see it.

This matter must be promptly and fully investigated and I call for my letter of February 2003, which was never responded to and has been in the CIA’s files ever since, to be declassified.

Congratulations Jane. Glad to have you on the side of light and goodness for the moment.

Harman’s then-counterpart in the Senate (Harman is no longer in HPSCI, which is why she didn’t learn of the tapes when HPSCI did), Jello Jay Rockefeller, appears to have followed the CIA’s script they gave him–until he stopped to think or someone did so for him. On Thursday, as this news was coming out, Jello Jay released the following statement.

While we were provided with very limited information about the existence of the tapes, we were not consulted on their usage nor the decision to destroy the tapes. And, we did not learn until much later, November 2006 — 2 months after the full committee was briefed on the program — that the tapes had in fact been destroyed in 2005.

And then, yesterday he revealed that that story was what the CIA had told him, not what he knew or believed to be true or, more importantly, what the record proved.

Last night, the CIA informed me that it believes that the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee was told of the decision to destroy the tapes in February 2003 but was not told of their actual destruction until a closed committee hearing held in November 2006.

The committee has located no record of either being informed of the 2003 CIA decision or being notified late last year of the tapes having being destroyed. A review of the November 2006 hearing transcript finds no mention of tapes being destroyed.

No wonder Jello Jay always touts the CIA party line–his first instinct is to read from the script they give him.

Meanwhile, Crazy Pete Hoekstra, current Ranking Member of HPSCI, sounds remarkably like Dick Durbin. Here’s Durbin:

I urge you to investigate whether CIA officials who destroyed these videotapes and withheld information about their existence from official proceedings violated the law.

[snip]

The Executive Branch and the Congress need to decide how much they care about this question. If they want to get to the bottom of it, it’s pretty easy for people to dig up the relevant records and answer the questions that either officials of the Executive Branch or the Congress could pose.

Please notify me whether you intend to investigate the CIA’s destruction of detainee interrogation videotapes. Due to the gravity of this matter, I request that you respond as soon as possible, and in no case later than Wednesday, December 12.

And here’s Crazy Pete Hoekstra, who is currently Ranking Member of HPSCI and was Chair when the tapes were destroyed:

“I think the intelligence committee needs to get all over this,” said Mr. Hoekstra, who has been a strong supporter of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program. “This raises a red flag that needs to be looked at.”

The stars are definitely aligned weirdly when Crazy Pete and Dick Durbin agree on something.

Crazy Pete and Silvestre Reyes are also apparently in agreement, and like Jello Jay, they’re calling bull (though unlike Jello Jay, they didn’t first read from the CIA script).

We are writing to seek a clarification from you on your unclassified statements concerning the destruction of videotapes made during detainee interrogations.

Specifically, your announcement to the CIA workforce, delivered on December 6, 2007, stated that “The leaders of our oversight committees in Congress were informed of the videos years ago and of the Agency’s intention to dispose of the material. Our oversight committees also have been told that the videos were, in fact, destroyed.”

The implication of this statement is that Congress was fully informed as to the practice of videotaping interrogations and notified “years ago” as to the destruction of the videotapes.

Based upon available records and our best recollection, this simply is not true.

This Committee was not informed of the decision to destroy these videotapes until earlier this year. The notification came in the form of an offhand comment you made in response to a question during a briefing on March 14, 2007. The destruction was briefly mentioned again in a letter to one Member of this Committee dated April 19, 2007.

We do not consider this to be sufficient notification. Moreover, these brief mentions were certainly not contemporaneous with the decision to destroy the videotapes. [my emphasis]

I kind of like that: "We do not consider this to be sufficient notification." Uh huh.

So there you have the responses of all the Intelligence Committee past or present leadership involved, save two. There’s Porter Goss, who was DCI when the tapes were destroyed. AFAIK, Goss has not issued any statement himself, neither reflecting whether he was warning in 2003 about the destruction of the tapes, nor whether he knew of their eventual destruction in 2005. Instead, he’s got a bunch of people speaking for him.

As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, Porter J. Goss, then a Republican congressman from Florida, was among Congressional leaders who warned the C.I.A. against destroying the tapes, the former intelligence officials said. Mr. Goss became C.I.A. director in 2004 and was serving in the post when the tapes were destroyed, but was not informed in advance about Mr. Rodriguez’s decision, the former officials said.

[snip]

At the time of the briefing in February 2003, the lawmakers who advised Mr. Muller not to destroy the tapes included both Mr. Goss and Representative Jane Harman of California, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Ms. Harman described her role on Friday. Mr. Goss’s role was described by former intelligence officials. [my emphasis]

It strikes me that there aren’t that many "former intelligence officials" who would have been present for both the initial Congressional briefing and within Porter Goss’ inner circle at CIA when the tapes were destroyed. Granted, Goss brought a bunch of his loyal flunkeys with him from Congress, but these former intelligence officials are really limited to Goss’ flunkeys and Goss himself. All of which makes me wonder whether Mazzetti’s sources for the larger story aren’t Goss’ flunkeys, which would really raise questions for me about their motivation. Almost as many questions as I’ve got about how Crazy Pete and Dick Durbin ended up on the same side of an issue. It’s enough to make you really be cautious about the politics involved in this story.

So that about covers it right? Wait, what? You mean there’s someone missing? You mean no one has mentioned Pat Roberts, shill extraordinaire and the Chair of SSCI during the briefings about the tapes in 2003, when the tapes were destroyed in 2005, and when the CIA claims it told SSCI that the tapes had been destroyed. How can that be? He’d be one of the first people I’d talk to!

Pat Roberts, who incidentally is up for re-election next year, seems to have gone to ground, which may suggest he’s not anxious to talk about his knowledge of the torture tapes.

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  1. Bilbo says:

    Good morning, ew.

    I have to wonder if this tape issue wasn’t leaked by the administration itself in order to distract attention from the Iran NIE issue. It’s not like there’s many folks left who didn’t already believe the CIA et al were engaging in torture anyway. What we have left at this point is a split between those who think it’s OK to torture and those who don’t.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      What the reporter on WJ this mornig said was that we had read about what was going on at Abu Ghraib for awhile before the photos were published, but it was the publication of those that launched the real uproar. You know, pics worth 1000 words & all that.

      I think the CIA torture tapes would be explosive. Along with Booman* & several others, I think they tortured Zabaydah into looniness. So you’d see not only the torture, but all the false confessions. And someone was just about ready to leak the destruction, so CIA had to get out ahead of the leak.

      I also think there are copies around, but am not holding my breath waiting for them to be leaked.

      *http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2007/12/6/192315/477

    • Ann in AZ says:

      I have to wonder if this tape issue wasn’t leaked by the administration itself in order to distract attention from the Iran NIE issue. It’s not like there’s many folks left who didn’t already believe the CIA et al were engaging in torture anyway. What we have left at this point is a split between those who think it’s OK to torture and those who don’t.

      Engaging in torture is one thing; destroying evidence of engaging in torture that could lead to Obstruction of Justice charges is another. That increases the chances that a chargeable offense could end up in an actual court case, I think. I don’t know if I could buy the idea that the administration would reveal this except that they knew that it was coming out anyway, so they just got ahead of it. Both this and the revelations in the NIE make the current regime look dishonest, inept and incompetent as well as downright evil, so I don’t think they would see this as a minor distraction.

      I am seriously wondering if EW has read Gerald Posner’s article on Huffpo entitled: The CIA’s Destroyed Interrogation Tapes and the Saudi-Pakistani 9/11 Connection

      I would love to hear her take on that!

    • bobschacht says:

      “I have to wonder if this tape issue wasn’t leaked by the administration itself…”

      Seems unlikely to me. After Commander Guy has been consistently saying “We don’t torture,” it doesn’t look too good to have newspaper headlines screaming that the CIA destroyed tapes of torture. In fact, I’ve been fantasizing about an ad which has a Newspaper torture headline banner across the top, and then in the lower half, videoclips of the Preznit saying “We do not torture” shown large with audio, then shrunk as a still shot to the lower half, one at a time, to drive home the point that Bush is either a liar, or a fool, or both.

      Bob in HI

    • blitzmesser says:

      I think that both issues are serious and a distraction of one from the other was really not necessary. But I could be mistaken… I guess it depends on
      how much trouble they can get into with either one. (I have feeling you are right!)

  2. eCAHNomics says:

    Hi EW.

    Thanks again for keeping on top of all aspects of this story.

    On an earlier post you mention that Lichtblau gives another name than Ramzi BAS as the second torture victim. I read the article and he kind of drops it in as a given. H’mmm. I wonder what his source is. If you google “Ramzi bin al-Shibh CIA torture tapes” you come up with several other analysts who speculate, along with you, that it was RBAS. So I think I’ll wait awhile before taking Lichtblau’s word that it isn’t.

  3. AZ Matt says:

    Pat Roberts can be whacked bad by this in the election since Kansas is not as diehard Republican as it once was.

    Whoever is advising the CIA on how they handle this seems to be behind the curve as this seems to be spinning out of control. No doubt they will get Bush to invoke State Secrets or Executive Privelage to hide behind.

    • Ann in AZ says:

      If we were to impeach, I’ll guarantee that whatever evidence existed would no longer exist by the guilty finding. If the Rethugs learned one thing from Watergate, it is to destroy the tapes before they can destroy you. Therefore, the only lesson left for us to teach would be that there are severe consequences to destroying the tapes or evidence. I don’t think we’re gonna get that done within this Congress. Why Congress doesn’t see Obstruction of Justice as a serious enough matter to be considered a high crime or misdemeanor, I can’t understand to save my soul. But if you’re willing to overlook the kind of Abuse of Power that this administration has exhibited, and turn the other cheek to the kind of Contempt of Congress that the Congress has already tolerated, I guess that’s understandable. I don’t think they understand that we’d respect them more if they’d grow a spine and do their damn jobs!

  4. LS says:

    Wait a minute, “At the time of the briefing in February 2003, the lawmakers who advised Mr. Muller not to destroy the tapes

    Muller destroyed the tapes??? That’s the first I’ve heard his name mentioned in this.

    I’m tellin’ ya, I think the Ashcroft hospital bed thing had to do with this aspect of “a program that the President authorized” and the surveillance of it.

    • MadDog says:

      The Muller referred to is Scott W. Muller – CIA General Counsel at the time (2003) who did the briefing to both Congress and the WH.

    • Ann in AZ says:

      Aren’t you conflating the disappearance of video tapes revealing torture and taken by the agency itself and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping of citizens in an attempt to spy, therefore violating our privacy. I think these are totally two separate offenses by this administration.

      • LS says:

        I agree that they are two separate offenses, but I think they both fall under the “programs” that make up the TSP and/or the TSP is part of a larger program, combining many activities.

        Bush admitted to authorizing one program, and initial testimony (Gonzo’s) was that the program relative to the Ashcroft visit was a program “the President authorized” that was not related to the wiretapping…it was “other activities”…

        Mueller and Comey, on the other hand seemed to indicate that the reason Gonzo and Card were at Ashcroft’s bedside was about a different program, than Gonzo was talking about, but that it was the TSP;

        However, Bush also authorized harsh interrogation tactics (activities) and now we find out that those tactics were “videoed” and now “at least” 2 videos have been destroyed; presumably because they were hard evidence of torture. That is also a form of surveillance.

        In addition to the above, NSA was also spying on the UN and others (probably in violation of FISA) prior to the Iraq war, and that was causing an uproar amongst some who were against it in the Administration.

        And finally, they starting the domestic spying program prior to 9/11, as evidenced by the news that Quest was approached but rejected participation.

        So, what I’m saying is that Bush authorized a bunch of programs involving surveillance and also torture tactics. Somehow, they all converge.

        I’m sure this all sounds completely confusing.

        • Ann in AZ says:

          Actually, now that you’ve connected the dots, it all does make a lot of sense and is not so confusing. In fact, it seems plausible, to say the least.

          However, Bush also authorized harsh interrogation tactics (activities) and now we find out that those tactics were “videoed” and now “at least” 2 videos have been destroyed; presumably because they were hard evidence of torture. That is also a form of surveillance.

          I have read (somewhere, many more than one place) that they tape all interrogations/interview as SOP. If that’s true, they may have decided to destroy as best they can all traces of the videos. I cannot believe that they would destroy just the two; they would at least destroy the tapes for all enhanced interrogations, and possibly all interrogations so it appears more cogent. But my guess is there were tapes on all the interviews/ interrogations.

  5. LS says:

    This is unrelated to the CIA tapes, but it seems to be related to what spying was going on. I had forgotten about this. Maybe it fits into a timeline somewhere. I just came across it:

    “Sources in Washington familiar with the operation said last week that there had been a division among Bush administration officials over whether to pursue such a high-intensity surveillance campaign with some warning of the serious consequences of discovery.

    The existence of the surveillance operation, understood to have been requested by President Bush’s National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is deeply embarrassing to the Americans in the middle of their efforts to win over the undecided delegations.”

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk…..36,00.html

  6. LS says:

    10/24/05

    “The American Civil Liberties Union today made public an analysis of new and previously released autopsy and death reports of detainees held in U.S. facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom died while being interrogated. The documents show that detainees were hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten with blunt objects, subjected to sleep deprivation and to hot and cold environmental conditions.

    “”There is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths,”" said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “”High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable. America must stop putting its head in the sand and deal with the torture scandal that has rocked our military.”"

    The documents released today include 44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of individuals apprehended in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents show that detainees died during or after interrogations by Navy Seals, Military Intelligence and “”OGA”" (Other Governmental Agency) — a term, according to the ACLU, that is commonly used to refer to the CIA.”

    http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanr…..51024.html

  7. Muzzy says:

    Re eCAHNomics: ” also think there are copies around, but am not holding my breath waiting for them to be leaked.”

    I’d also add that I can’t help but be bothered by the repeated reference to “video tapes”. It may well be an irrelevant semantic question, but it sure seems like it would be digital info at the time the interrogations were recorded. For one, digital would be more likely to be copied and stored in various places and, two, if you’re going to be investigating what happened to evidence, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re looking with the right substrate in mind.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Yeah, lotsa discussion of this yesterday. No one here seems to think they were actual video tapes that weren’t put on a computer at some point, which is why I think there are plenty of copies around.

    • Ann in AZ says:

      I’d also add that I can’t help but be bothered by the repeated reference to “video tapes”. It may well be an irrelevant semantic question, but it sure seems like it would be digital info at the time the interrogations were recorded. For one, digital would be more likely to be copied and stored in various places and, two, if you’re going to be investigating what happened to evidence, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re looking with the right substrate in mind.

      Wow! I hadn’t thought about that! So, you’re saying that, while videotape can be easily destroyed, digital tape(?) can be loaded on your computer or on a portable external hard drive and forgotten about. Then you can go public with the fact that its been destroyed, being very truthful, but not disclosing that there may be other copies. Now everybody goes home and no longer looks for the evidence because they were told it was destroyed. Isn’t that called “hiding in plain sight”?

  8. eCAHNomics says:

    More good stuff from Scott Horton:

    Indeed, as facts developed yesterday, the proximity of the decision to destroy the tapes and the demands of U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema that any tapes be turned over grew painfully apparent to everyone. My sources are telling me that the actual destruction occurred in mid- to late-November 2005. This would be after Judge Brinkema pressed the Justice Department in court over its compliance with production requests from the defense.

    snip

    It’s a reasonable inference that the decision to destroy was taken in direct reaction to Judge Brinkema’s direction that the tapes be handed over. Hence it was an act of calculated defiance of a federal court order. This is a serious crime with respect to which a defense is hard to envision. And every actor who was complicit in the decision would face potential jail time.

    http://www.harpers.org/archive…..c-90001877

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Scott Horton in his post yesterday argued that there could be no W pardon or commutation, since W’s part of the crime. A freind told me that she saw somewhere that there is a movement to apply that to Libby, but didn’t remember where she saw that.
        Here’s the link to his prior post.
        http://www.harpers.org/archive…..c-90001868
        IANAL, so I neither endore or deny Horton, just passing it along.

        • BayStateLibrul says:

          Thanks, I guess we should take it under advisement..
          Has any one traced Markasey’s whereabouts this weekend.
          The issue is in HIS COURT?

  9. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Strange this pattern of three explosive stories unfolding at the same
    moment, just at the weekend cutoff for chatshow frontloading and editorial
    writing and placement… tapes trump NIE trumps OLC memos as ol’Huck
    emerges to save America… passing strange.

  10. mamayaga says:

    And here we’d thought Harman had only got religion when she was primaried. May not have been such a good idea to bump her, as she appears to have marginally more effective cojones than Reyes.

    OT, but I have to add to comments on the new site. I’m thrilled you have an opportunity to reach a larger audience, which you well deserve, EW.

    But why oh why couldn’t Jane find a web designer who, like, knows something about how blogs are used? In addition to the irritation of having to go back to the main page to move to another thread (a completely unnecessary imposition, as links to those other threads can easily be put in the left column), there also is the issue of using italics for block quotes. Sans serif fonts in italics are hard to read, especially if they are in bold. There are many ways to set off block quotes — indentations, different color font, different font, different color background — without resorting to italics. This is so bad I have several times had to copy the text into Word and de-italicize before I could read it.
    Thanks for listening, and I sincerely hope these easily fixed problems can be fixed in fact so you can continue your long overdue ascension into the firmament of the A List.

  11. noen says:

    Jack Balkin has a new post up about Whitehouse

    Whitehouse blames the White House, but he should blame Congress

    This is the gist of it:

    The OLC opinions that Whitehouse saw do not make the far more troubling claim that the President could disobey FISA under his Article II powers. That claim, which has been offered by various supporter of the Administration, would truly make the President more like a King.

    The real problem, as Whitehouse well knows, is not the President’s decision to change executive orders to expand what he may do under the auspices of the Protect America Act. The problem is the Protect America Act, which shredded civil liberties protections by redefining a wide swath of electronic surveillance as not “electronic surveillance” under the meaning of FISA.

    Whitehouse doesn’t like the Protect America Act any more than I do. But he should direct his fire at the Congress that produced it in a shameless display of capitulation to demagoguery and fear mongering.

    Things are not quite as dire as they have have seemed. Still bad though.

  12. Muzzy says:

    eCAHN – I should preface everything I say here with “it’s likely already been beaten to the ground…”

    I think there’s a good reason to think copies exist. When you’re talking about staying out of deep trouble, it’s a position of advantage for something ‘to not exist’ (even though it does) for evidentiary reasons unless it becomes necessary ‘for it to exist’ in order to stay out of a different kind of trouble, in which case it gets found.

    Kind of like Rove’s opportunistically recovered email that partially triggered his memory. You know the rest.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Hey Muzzy, not everybody can be here 24/7, so it’s perfectly OK to bring up a subject multiple times. I was just defending why I entered only the short version today.

  13. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Whitehouse did address the congressional stampede to pass the PAA in
    his speech and I cannot agree that the “real problem…is not the
    Presidents decision to change executive orders to expand what he may do…”. It is not a question of either/or, it is both, and he addressed
    both. Congressional go along to get along is more frequent than the
    dumping of marbury v madison by the executive. Dire it is.

  14. noen says:

    About the existence of these tapes… boy I don’t know. Since they have the potential to utterly destroy the CIA, or parts of it, I’d sy it’s a good chance they got rid of them.

    • Ann in AZ says:

      About the existence of these tapes… boy I don’t know. Since they have the potential to utterly destroy the CIA, or parts of it, I’d sy it’s a good chance they got rid of them.

      Yeah, but spies are generally pretty smart about holding back that “blue dress” evidence to be used against anybody that called them a liar. One never knows what one may need in case of emergency. That’s why they call it cloak and dagger.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        In addition to deliberately holding back evidence, there’s the whole issues of computer backups that exist in cyberspace forever. Hard to imagine that anyone could purge all of those.

  15. billinturkey says:

    Balkin seems to be saying that the OLC opinions don’t give Bush cover for ignoring FISA under his article 2 powers.

    On the face of it the opinion that the president gets to decide what is a legal exercise of his article 2 powers does seem to do this. (and that seemed to follow from the consensus on eW’s Whitehouse thread)

    So is Balkin wrong? If not, what has he spotted that us more ANAL types have missed?

  16. noen says:

    Both this and the revelations in the NIE make the current regime look dishonest, inept and incompetent as well as downright evil,

    So no real change then.

  17. noen says:

    If the passage about the ability to break laws applies only to the immediate topic of the memo, it’s not that big a deal, probably. The language is very vague on purpose. If underlings misinterpret it he can always claim it was their fualt not his.

  18. TheraP says:

    Does anybody believe that this lower level CIA person made and carried out this decision on his own? I find it impossible to believe! Although according to Larry Johnson, if he did, he would have saved “something” to protect himself down the road.

    “I doubt that Jose Rodriguez will be a willing scapegoat. In fact, I would not be surprised if he kept some information back that would help exonerate him just in case this very contingency arose.”

    http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/co…..ture_tapes

  19. jumpinjack says:

    It seems like the intelligence community was on to the Iran nuclear weapon program shutdown in 1993. But no new information seemed to surface for a few years – until recently. Here is my theory: Valerie Plame was running the operation that uncovered the nuclear shutdown or was responsible for CAUSING the nuclear shutdown by Iran. Because the Cheney and the neocons wanted war with Iran so bad, the notion of shutting down the Iranian nuke program was unacceptable, as it removes the primary reason for war. So Cheney outs Plame in order to shut down her entire operation. Which did, in fact, happen. Until the intelligence community was able to resurrect another information pipeline into Iran, no new info was discovered. Thus the several year gap for new intel. Is this the REAL reason for Valerie Plame being outed?

    Thoughts???

    • eCAHNomics says:

      That’s been my hypothesis ever since I found out Valerie had worked on Iran WMDs (about a year ago IIRC).

      BTW, Iran never had any nuke program, according to Scott Ritter & Gordon Prather. Go to anti-war.com & either read their posts or listen to their interviews.

      • jumpinjack says:

        “Iran never had any nuke program”

        Wel whatever the hell it has that was the basis for Cheney demanding we bomb the shit out of Iran!

        • eCAHNomics says:

          Acting Prez Cheney doesn’t need any ‘basis’ for doing anything. Exhibit: Iraq.

          IANANP (Nuclear Physicist) but as I understand it, the non-reported item by Iran was some sort of “green salt” project that is one step in making a gas out of uranium, in turn, one step in enrichment. Iran kept it secret for awhile because of whatever the global situation was vis-a-vis them at the time. They are allowed enrichment under NPT, and are actually not required to reveal anything until it goes into the reactor, or something like that. Iran has hot n cold running IAEA inspectors all over the place & has been much more open than is required under NPT.

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      I think you have it pretty close, they needed to blind the intel
      picture long enough to substitute another in support of the plan…
      what was it the Downing Street Memo said about intelligence being fixed
      around the plan. Would not British intel see Brewster-Jennings scuttle
      for what it was? Seems a fair surmise.

      • jumpinjack says:

        And where does Fitz fit into this? He is still hanging around, keeping the office lights on and the coffee pot full until something new comes up. Any chance he’s waiting for some of this classified info to be de-classified so that he can move on it?

        • merkwurdiglieber says:

          Not sure on that one, time clock is running out and Mukasey’s position
          is unclear on this investigation… perhaps the interview documents Fitz
          sends to Waxman will generate the buzz needed to flush another bird.

    • bobschacht says:

      “It seems like the intelligence community was on to the Iran nuclear weapon program shutdown in 1993. But no new information seemed to surface for a few years – until recently. Here is my theory: Valerie Plame was running the operation that uncovered the nuclear shutdown or was responsible for CAUSING the nuclear shutdown by Iran. Because the Cheney and the neocons wanted war with Iran so bad, the notion of shutting down the Iranian nuke program was unacceptable, as it removes the primary reason for war. So Cheney outs Plame in order to shut down her entire operation. Which did, in fact, happen. Until the intelligence community was able to resurrect another information pipeline into Iran, no new info was discovered. Thus the several year gap for new intel. Is this the REAL reason for Valerie Plame being outed?”

      I’ve long thought that this was as important to Cheney as Joe Wilson’s column. He probably thought about the outing as a “twofer”.

      Bob in HI

    • SunnyNobility says:

      The outing Valerie to discredit Joe story has always seemed thin and Joe’s frequent repetition of it rings off-key.

      Interesting contrast to the later-disclosed photos of Abu Graib that were released for viewing, but only to congress.

  20. Mary says:

    Well, here are some other things that don’t make sense to me. Are people truly certain that ONLY the Intel 4 were briefed, and not the full “gang of 8?”

    I’m no expert, but it seems that under Sec 413 the Presidential perogative is either the full intel committees OR the gang of 8. Not so much just the Intel 4. More and more reasons why Pelosi wanted impeachment off the table and no Dems have done any kind of battle over torture and the kidnap/abuse and subsequent deaths of innocent Afghan, Iraqi and other nations protected persons who have been disappeared around the world into military and CIA abuse?

    Also, what defense do members of Congress who knew about the existence of tapes make to their failures to notify a) the 9/11 Commission which was requesting information on any such tapes and b) the Federal Judge in the Moussaoui case, Brinkema, who was also requesting the same?

    If Harman and Rockefeller did NOT know the tapes were destroyed, then they DID know that the Executive Branch was lying to the Commission and, even more disturbingly, to the third branch of government – the Judicial Branch.

    This just makes me ballistic and not many are focusing on the severe deriliciations and improprieties and obstruction issues resulting if Harman, Rockefeller, etc. in the Legislative Branch were sitting mum while the Executive Branch outright lied to the Judicial Branch.

    Turley gets this. I don’t want to go beyond fair use, but all of his entries are worth the read. For this particular issue, though, he says:

    Fifth, it confirms that some Democratic members had to know not only that waterboarding was occurring but that critical evidence being sought by the courts was destroyed.This last question is perhaps the most disturbing. Many of us are still in shock that Senators Schumer and Feinstein prevented a showdown over waterboarding in the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Mukasey. I opined at the time that part of the reason is that Democrats knew of waterboarding and would be implicated in the resulting scandal. Waterboarding is not just a crime, it is defined as a war crime. Now, it seems that Democrats may have been aware of destruction of evidence and potential obstruction.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2007…..for-years/

    He’s opined since the Mukasey hearing, but I’ve pretty much figured since Pelosi really dug in on impeachment being off the table and blocking subpoenas and blocking contempt and reining in Conyers etc. that she doesn’t want in depth investigations. If she doesn’t want them, it’s because she doesn’t want what they will demonstrate – it’s as if she thinks that by blocking real investigation into the Bush admin activities she can prevent people from ever guessing the extent of complicity of Dem leadership.

    And btw – what about other tapes? Everything you read is so very very parsed that nothing is getting at the existence of other tapes, perhaps discussed on other dates, and their destruction. Or, as pointed out above, other digital recordings. Or pictures. Or audio. Or video handed over to Egyptian interrogators to hold. Or kept at the ultra secret blacksites or by other Bush torture pals or by the military v. the CIA or …

    We do know that prosecutors appearing before Brinkema:

    said that the CIA didn’t notify them until Sept. 13 that it had discovered a videotape and the transcript of an interrogation of an unidentified detainee. Prosecutors said they then asked the CIA to perform “an exhaustive review” for any other recordings of roughly a half dozen al Qaida captives whom Moussaoui had sought as defense witnesses, and a second videotape and a brief audio tape were discovered.Among the prisoners whose testimony Moussaoui sought were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed , who allegedly admitted masterminding the 9/11 attacks after he was waterboarded; Ramzi Binalshibh, a senior al Qaida member who allegedly coordinated the attacks; and financier Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi . Summaries of statements from those three and several others were read at his trial.”The fact that audio/video recording of enemy combatant interrogations occurred, and that the United States was in possession of three of those recordings is, as noted, inconsistent with factual assertions in CIA declarations dated May 9, 2003 . . . and November 14, 2005 ,” the prosecutors wrote.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2007…..-material/

    So there are those recordings. We also know that Judge Brinkema is joining a long list of Judges to whom the DOJ has “fibbed” on a long laundry list of matters, from FISA court firewalls to criminal case unwarranted surveillance to criminal case existence of evidence to nature of GITMO detainees as protected persons who were human trafficking victims to transalations of surveillance tapes with warrants, to the existence of hundreds of pages of excuplatory evidence hidden, etc.

    Per the link directly above, Brinkema:

    …stated that she could no longer rely on the representations of the government after the obvious misrepresentations

    She joins other Judges, such as Kessler and even the Boeing benefitted Luttig, in recognizing that the Bush DOJ are liars. Not one or two, here and there, but spread everywhere. And who can be surprised after what Whitehouse stated on the floor and what anyone who has been paying attention has known from the beginning. When this DOJ began, 7 years or more ago, taking their oaths to the Bush family or the Federalist Society or the Golden Idol of a perpetual Fundamentalist Republican Party Majority or the supremity of their own Executive Branch that empowered them to operate with no limits – – – they were all bowing down before the absolution given by agreeing that they are “required” to adhere to the “legal determinations” of an immoral criminal who can tell them it is perfectly “legal” to lie to the courts and to Congress.

    They each paint themselves as miniature Pilates, washing their hands in the Bush Bowl and saying they have no personal responsibility and no personal role in the ultimate depravities.

    And the courts and the legislature shout hosannah.

    • MadDog says:

      I wonder who will be the first of the weasels to plead for immunity and spill all?

      Of course, that assumes the current feckless Democratic majorities would actually do more than blather about something.

      I’m definitely not expecting much from Jello Jay’s “investigation”. Seems like he’s more part of the problem than the solution.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Ding ding ding on feckless Ds. That’s probably why none of the guilty have cracked yet. They’re sure they can rely on the Ds to do nothing.

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      The aggregate effect of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations
      has been the Stepfording of the Congress, cheered on by a POTUS centered
      press, now a part of the 2nd branch rather than the more traditional 4th
      branch role envisioned by Madison as essential in balancing the architecture of the Constitution. It is a dangerous development indeed.

    • Ann in AZ says:

      He’s opined since the Mukasey hearing, but I’ve pretty much figured since Pelosi really dug in on impeachment being off the table and blocking subpoenas and blocking contempt and reining in Conyers etc. that she doesn’t want in depth investigations. If she doesn’t want them, it’s because she doesn’t want what they will demonstrate – it’s as if she thinks that by blocking real investigation into the Bush admin activities she can prevent people from ever guessing the extent of complicity of Dem leadership.

      And btw – what about other tapes? Everything you read is so very very parsed that nothing is getting at the existence of other tapes, perhaps discussed on other dates, and their destruction. Or, as pointed out above, other digital recordings. Or pictures. Or audio. Or video handed over to Egyptian interrogators to hold. Or kept at the ultra secret blacksites or by other Bush torture pals or by the military v. the CIA or …

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’ll just commend you for saying it!

    • emptywheel says:

      Mary

      Do you have a sense when the request for tapes from Brinkema became public? The docket itself is sealed and the docket entry doesn’t specify that much on what she was looking for. Yet there’s a great deal of information on the request and the answer–where and when did that come out?

  21. bmaz says:

    This is almost as big a scandal as the one where a football coach at Rutgers (that would be in New Joisey) didn’t think enough of the Michigan job to move to the Big House from his current residence at Rutgers (which, again, and this is truly the astounding part, is in New Joisey).

    • BooRadley says:

      Until Michigan comes down to tO$U and only graduates 55% of their football players, it won’t be an attractive job. See Stanford. Harbaugh is by a long, long way, the least qualified coach in the PAC-10. His only head coaching experience was at the University of San Diego. They don’t award scholarships. Nobody even remotely qualified wanted the Stanford job.
      Until Michigan faculty and deans figure out it’s a lot easier to get raises balance their academic budgets by keeping football players eligible for five years and then spitting them out without a marketable degree, they’ll keep losing to tOSU.

  22. Neil says:

    OT

    Torture, it always comes back to bite you in the ass.

    City [Chicago] paying nearly $20 million to settle police-torture lawsuit
    The city will pay $19.8 million to settle with four African-American men who allegedly were tortured for their confessions by former police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
    By Gary Washburn | Tribune staff reporter
    4:59 PM CST, December 7, 2007

    • Neil says:

      U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said his office would look into whether any of the Burge case officers lied under oath or obstructed justice as part of the civil litigation resulting from the torture allegations.
      […]
      In July 2006, special prosecutors released a long-awaited report stating there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Burge and four other former officers abused suspects to extract confessions in the 1980s. But prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Boyle also concluded that none of the men can be charged with a crime because the state’s three-year time limit on felony charges had passed.

      “… the statute of limitations would bar any prosecution.”

      The prosecutors were appointed in 2002 to investigate claims that Burge and detectives working under him routinely used torture, including electric shock, Russian roulette, beatings and attempted suffocation.

  23. Leen says:

    EW and all. Keep wondering what the status of the other parts of Phase II of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are? Could Jello Jay be ready to drop a bomb on the Office of Special Plans? Has Senator Rockefeller made some enemies trying to complete the investigation of the false pre-war intelligence?

    Why is Harman playing all nicey nice… trying to make up for not doing her job?

  24. JohnForde says:

    What does Cheney have on Joseph P Rodriguez that Rodriguez is willing to take the rap for this?
    What might Rodriquez have on Cheney?

  25. selise says:

    ot – via dkos, afp is reporting that iran has dumped the dollar:

    TEHRAN (AFP) — Major crude producer Iran has completely stopped carrying out its oil transactions in dollars, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Saturday, labelling the greenback an “unreliable” currency.

    “At the moment, selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies,” Nozari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

    “The dollar is an unreliable currency, considering its devaluation and the oil exporters’ losses,” he added.
    The world’s fourth largest oil exporter, Iran has massively reduced its dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of US pressures on its financial system and the fall in the dollar.

    Nozari did not specify in which currencies Iran was now being paid. In the past, officials have said most oil income was in euros, with a significant percentage in yen.

    Japan, which purchases 20 percent of Iran’s crude oil, has recently agreed to pay for the crude oil in yen, officials have said.

    from worldnetdaily for what this means to the wingnuts:

    Iran today announced a decision to end all oil sales in dollar transactions, moving one step closer to confrontation with the United States.

      • selise says:

        here’s my take, fwiw… iran’s leaders have been wanting to do this (dump the dollar) for awhile. they haven’t because they’ve feared the repercussions (ie bush/cheney going batshit crazy on them). but now bushco is seen as being weaken (all their own fault, i would add) by revelations of bushco’s misdeeds… and iran’s elite have calculated that this is the moment when they are safe to act.

        another way bushco’s actions blow back to cause usa citizens grief. not my idea of national security.

        • jumpinjack says:

          Unfortunately, there are a number of countries that are moving away from the dollar for their currency reserves and/or oil trading. Including Saudi Arabia, S. Korea. Expect other countries to follow suit. As the dollar shrinks in value, countries’ reserves that are stricly dollar-denominated are being crucified. This is a great topic for another thread. I don’t want to vear this thread away from topic.

          • BooRadley says:

            Agree. fwiw, and icymi, emptywheel has blogged on this topic numerous times in the last fifteen months.

        • eCAHNomics says:

          I posted a couple of comments on Iran dumping dollar next door at FDL (37, 40) if you’re interested. Think it was a stupid thing to do, but probably won’t mushroom.

  26. bmaz says:

    If only we had a democracy like Venezuela and a leader like Hugo Chavez that actually adheres to the wishes of his citizens…..

  27. selise says:

    for every time i post a link here, there are 99 times where i stop myself first by thinking, “nah, i’m sure marcy’s already seen it.”

  28. jumpinjack says:

    Just remember…..”at least two” can mean 10,000. Or more. Or less.

    Like when I tell my wife I got home last night “after midnite”…..and it was 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning! That IS “after midnite”! (BTW – She finally got wise to that old line!)

    So…”at least two” can mean pretty much anything you want it to mean.

  29. selise says:

    in addition to mary’s discussion above (on pelosi et al.s complicity in covering up bushco’s misdeeds) – which i completely buy… there is another point to raise, which is that a weaken presidency (during serious impeachment proceedings, criminal proceedings, etc) weakens our country position in international negotiations.

    that may be another reason (in addition to complicity) that some in congress are holding back on attacking bushco as should have been done.

    not sure i really buy this argument… just make it for the sake of fairness.

    • jumpinjack says:

      By now, I think impeachment proceedings would INCREASE our country’s negotiating position! Too much of the world thinks our country is batshit for RE-ELECTING Bush/Cheney. Personally — I agree with them!

  30. ThreadTheorist says:

    Porter Goss, the CIA director at the time of the destruction of the tapes, was fired suddenly on the first Friday in May, 2006. My memory is that soon after that his house was raided by the FBI, but I haven’t found any links to that story. If he was smart, Goss would have taken digital copies of the tapes with him as he was cleaning out his desk. His successor, the current Michael Hayden, was announced the following Monday. I am willing to make a small wager that each of these people (Bush, Goss, and Hayden) knew everything there was to know about these tapes in May, 2006.

  31. garyg says:

    bmaz!

    There will be no bashing of Rutgers. Schiano wouldn’t leave even to take a big Scarlet dump at Michigan.

    Rice for Heisman!

    • bmaz says:

      I am glad Schiano stayed, the transient nature of greedy coaches has become ridiculous. Of course, he is probably just waiting for the upcoming opening at Notre Dame after another 3-9 season of Charlie Weiss genius. Ray Rice is good; should have gotten better consideration.

  32. garyg says:

    jumpinjack @ 70, that’s why “some” is the greatest weasel word of all time. It literally means “at least one” but almost everyone assumes it means more than one.

  33. LS says:

    Interesting…this ties in Robert Grenier, who was fired from the CIA in 2006 for not being aggressive enough regarding the detainees…

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t…..729944.ece

    “The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed………”

    “……Goss is believed to have blamed Grenier for allowing leaks to occur on his watch.

    Since the appointment of Goss, the CIA has lost almost all its high-level directors amid considerable turmoil.

    “AB “Buzzy” Krongard, a former executive director of the CIA who resigned shortly after Goss’s arrival, said the leaks were unlikely to stop soon, despite proposals to subject officers to more lie detector tests.

    Krongard said it was up to President George Bush to stop the rot. “The agency has only one client: the president of the United States,” he said. “The reorganisation is the way this president wanted it. If he is unwilling to reform it, the agency will go on as it is.”

    Guess who fired Grenier….Rodriguez….from Wiki:

    On February 7, 2006, Rodriguez fired Robert Grenier, his successor as Director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, for not being “aggressive” enough in combating terrorism.

    On August 8, 2007, the Associated Press reported on Jose Rodriguez’s upcoming retirement. The article mentions his Wikipedia entry having been made prior to the “decloaking” of his identity and that the entry contains “inaccuracies.” He will retire on September 30, 2007 and will be replaced by Michael Sulick.”

  34. Mary says:

    56 a POTUS centered press, now a part of the 2nd branch That sums it pretty elegantly.

    73 – Selise, how could our country be any weaker in international negotiations than we are now? Bush has no international strength – just a shared national and international horror, similar to the feeling you might get when a toddler wanders over and picks up a loaded weapon with the safety off and begins to waft it around.

    EW – I’m not sure if I know the exact issues you are asking about or if I would have the answers. For your love of timelines, here’s a pale version of yours that was done for the Moussaoui case:

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/facult…..ology.html

    But here’s pretty much what happened if I understand correctly. From the very beginning (2003), Moussaoui’s defense lawyers were asking for accesss to detainees and all statements, interrogation results, etc. from them. In particular, the focus was on getting access to the detainees, but they also wanted access to all statements. In connection with that, the judge entered an order requiring that gov turn over all the info and in connection with that ordered that the detainees themselves be made available or requiring Gov to take the death penalty off the table if it would not make detainees available. This was all reported in more or less detail contemporaneously (e.g. http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/12…..index.html ) with observations at the time about all the redactions of things that everyone knew – there was a findlaw article back then that talked about the redactions of even silly things like the word “interrorgation.”

    As the focus on the physical access to the detainees was going forward in 2003, there was not as much being done on the issue of access to the videotapes, audio tapes and statements, primarily bc the Bush consiglieres, fka DOJ, said there were not any. The made the sworn certification to the court in 2003 that such things did not exist. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/100/story/22709.html This was reported at least in part at the time – – and you have to wonder where Harman and Rockefeller were then.

    During the battle over the detainee access, the issue of statements by the detainees did come up multiple times bc some of what the 4th Cir (of Luttig and Padilla and no consequences for govt fibbing fame) proposed as an “alternative” to access to the detainees for the defense. The Fourth proposed that all the detainee statements could be collected and reviewed by the prosecutors and court, maybe even some written questions tendered by the defense could be asked and those responses worked in. Then, the court and prosecutors could play footsy with that info to generate written summaries of what the detainees “might” have testified about if they had testified, with the court providing jury instructions as to the reliability of the written substitutions. Again, most of that was reported as it took place.

    So then things go up to the Sup Ct which makes a mostly non-response in March, 2005, but there may be a couple of kernels there. Bc while the Sup Ct refuses to review the decision by the 4th denying access to the detainees and saying that neutralizing the death penalty was too severe a penalty for not allowing access, the court did premise this on the4th’s assertions about Moussaoui’s ability to “present to the jury portions of what they told government interrogators”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..Mar21.html

    That came out March 21 or so and does seem to imply the Sup Ct was ratifying the concept that the trial court should be given access to everything in connection with approving the summary statements.

    So in “late 2005″ (although I think I have seen November mentioned), the trial judge AGAIN asks for all info, videotapes, etc. PLUS she had indicated earlier (see the WaPo story above, talking about the prior December order) that if she was going to be allowing summary statements to be used in her court, she wanted someone from gov to be on the hoo, with explaining and certifying “the conditions under which statements of those witnesses were made.”

    So by March 21, 2005, there had been plenty published to indicate that the trial court judge was going to have access to all in videotapes and statements of the detainees (and maybe before the 21st, bc with so many law clerks of the Justices “in the fold” so to speak, things leak to those who might need to clean up their act first.

    By fall of 2005, it was clear that the Judge was asking again specifically for the things she had been told once already did not exist, as well as asking for info specifically related to the treatment of detainees that generated their non-video statemetns that were being provided.

    From the McClatchy story:

    … in May 2003, Brinkema ordered the government to produce any video or audiotapes in its possession of interrogations of unidentified captives, but was told none existed. In late 2005, months after Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges but before his death-penalty trial, the judge again sought any interrogation tapes and was again told none existed.

    And this piece from 2004 discusses how many of the things redacted from the court opinions were common knowledge and reported contemporaneously.
    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/mariner/20040426.html

    Indeed, as the district court pointed out in an opinion last year, the government takes the position that “anything” that concerns the detainees is classified information. Even their names have been excised from the courts’ opinions, though they are well known to the press: Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.

    Excised, as well, from the Fourth Circuit’s opinion is any mention of the word “interrogation” and its variants, although a quick read though the opinion reveals the word’s frequent silhouette.

    Hope that’s along the lines of what you were looking for.

    I have to say – this isn’t the most user friendly site for comments so if it’s not a weekend, I may not get much time to say much, but enjoy the new digs.

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sen. McCain hasn’t gotten past his Chris Matthews-like love for Bush. He’s absolutley sure whatever the CIA did was legal, but is equally certain that Congress shouldn’t investigate it. Does he think this is still 2002?

  36. emptywheel says:

    Mary

    My biggest question was whether it was known to Congress in 2003 and 2005 that DOJ had represented to the court (and I think the sworn statement is November 14, 2005, within days of when it is reported that the tapes were destroyed) that they didn’t have videotapes. I know the detainee access was out there, but I wonder about the specific requests for video.

  37. PetePierce says:

    “While we were provided with very limited information about the existence of the tapes, we were not consulted on their usage nor the decision to destroy the tapes. And, we did not learn until much later, November 2006 — 2 months after the full committee was briefed on the program — that the tapes had in fact been destroyed in 2005.”

    Translation: CIA has had no respect whatsoever for Jello Jay and the rest of SSIC because they have exerted no oversight either when Roberts (the public don’t need to know nothin’ ’bout nothin’ controlled them or Jello Jay.)

    Last night, the CIA informed me that it believes that the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee was told of the decision to destroy the tapes in February 2003 but was not told of their actual destruction until a closed committee hearing held in November 2006.

    If in fact “the leadership” was informed, one Pat Roberts, either multiple people are lying (quite possible) or Roberts had so much respect for his collegues on the SSIC, including the then ranking member, Jello Jay, that he failed to inform any of them.

    Given that Miers and DOJ attorneys are on record as being informed on the imminent destruction of said tapes, it is a no-brainer that a White House Counsel with her head screwed on right and not way over her head and DOJ and OLC would have ordered the tapes preserved because their destruction might well be criminal obstruction and could jeapordize a number of terrorism cases.

    The attorney who won Hamden v. Rumsfield
    Georgetown’s Neal K. Katyal commented that:

    Neal K. Katyal on 12/7/07 on (Countdown with Keith Olbermann)

    “This looks extremely, extremely damaging for the Administration and the DOJ prosecutors involved. We don’t know when the tapes were destroyed. That’s the first thing we need to find out. We need an investigation to find out–an independent investigation–not an Alberto Gonzaoles trumped up investigation. I’m dismayed that AG Mukasey hasn’t issued a Preservation Order to preserve other tapes and documents because who knows what is being destroyed as we speak”?

    …18 USC § 1512 is another reason for an investigation “lying to officials during an investigation.”

    18USC §1512

    I just don’t have Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief that constitutes poetic faith” to believe that even Miers was dumb enough not to inform Bush.

    By the way, DOJ thus far since 911 has an egregious record of prosecuting “terrorism cases”–although many of them are probably malicious/incompetent prosecution products.