The Revolt of the Spooks

(Or Is it Civil War?)

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in this post, suggesting that the story revealing some Democratic members of the Gang of Four was a hit piece by Republicans (or, specifically, Porter Goss). That strikes me as an overly Manichean view of things, in which an article that makes Democrats look bad could only be a Republican hit piece. There’s another party in this equation–the Intelligence Community. The events of the last ten days make more sense, it seems to me, if you consider all of those events as a revolt on the part of the Intelligence Community.

Start with the release of the NIE. Pat Lang passes on the explanation that the NIE was declassified after "intelligence career seniors" threatened to leak the NIE to the press, legal consequences be damned.

The "jungle telegraph" in Washington is booming with news of the Iran NIE. I am told that the reason the conclusions of the NIE were released is that it was communicated to the White House that "intelligence career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary" if the document’s gist were not given to the public. Translation? Someone in that group would have gone to the media "on the record" to disclose its contents.

Dafna Linzer and Peter Baker provide the polite version–but still point to a senior intelligence officer who describes making the decision in the first person plural.

By last weekend, an intense discussion broke out about whether to keep it secret. "We knew it would leak, so honesty required that we get this out ahead, to prevent it from appearing to be cherry picking," said a top intelligence official. So McConnell reversed himself, and analysts scrambled over the weekend to draft a declassified version.

So somewhere in the ranks of the "career seniors" and the "top intelligence officials" some folks made a decision to confront Dick Cheney’s war-mongering directly. That’s a pretty serious escalation of the long-brewing conflict between Cheney and the Intelligence Community.

Then there’s the blockbuster by Mark Mazzetti (NYT’s intelligence reporter) revealing the destruction of the torture tapes. He sources it to:

current and former government officials

several officials

current and former government officials

former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue

But not Porter Goss (who would otherwise qualify as a "former government official"); Goss declined to comment through a spokesperson. And also not Michael Hayden, who wrote a letter to pre-empt Mazzetti’s story that provides a laughable party line for CIA officers to parrot.

Now, there’s nothing that says Mazzetti’s sources, save the last one (who provided the most detail about the rationale for making the tapes) were intelligence officials. Indeed, Mazzetti includes a link to the DOJ letter to Leonie Brinkema on the recently discovered tapes, suggesting he has been mucking around at DOJ, too (Eric Lichtblau, NYT’s DOJ reporter, gets credit on the article). Clearly though, much of this story comes from some people within the CIA who were closely involved with the decision to make the tapes, but who don’t necessarily approve of the decision to destroy them.

In the ensuing uproar over this, focus has shifted from the timing of this story. Few people have asked, for example, whether the uproar over this story is going to make it harder for Bush to veto the Intelligence Authorization Bill which would require the CIA to abide by the interrogation techniques described in the Army Field Manual–effectively prohibiting CIA use of waterboarding. Or, will the scrutiny that the this story will bring make it easier to summon the two-thirds majority to override a Bush veto? While I can’t guarantee it was intentional, I’d say the story on the destroyed terror tapes benefits those in DOJ and CIA who would like CIA to stop using methods considered torture. My amateur understanding is that that is by no means everyone at CIA–but that there are significant numbers who are uncomfortable with CIA officers engaging in activities that will expose them to legal difficulties in the future.

Congress’ apparent bi-partisan response to the news of the torture tape destruction was outrage directed at the intelligence community (though Pat Roberts may be an exception to this; he remains mum on the whole issue). Of note, the HPSCI threatened to hold hearings on the entire process of interrogations, rather than just the destruction of the torture tapes.

And, voila, we get the story revealing that Congressional leadership–including some of the same Members of Congress launching investigations into CIA’s interrogation methods–were briefed on them and, with the apparent exception of Jane Harman, did not object right away. For those who complain that the Pelosi comments in the WaPo had to have come from a Pelosi enemy, she issued a statement that in no way contradicts the depiction in the WaPo.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among the lawmakers who attended the briefing, issued a statement on Sunday saying that she eventually did protest the techniques and that she concurred with objections raised by a Democratic colleague in a letter to the C.I.A. in early 2003.

That is, she did not raise objections when she first attended briefings in 2002, as the HPSCI Ranking Member. She only later "concurred" in objections, presumably the objections Jane Harman raised after she replaced Pelosi is HPSCI ranking member. So when Congress was briefed in 2002, it appears, they gave legal sanction to the methods they were briefed on. It matters little that Pelosi has been replaced by Reyes and Graham by Jello Jay and Goss by Hoekstra; what matters is that when Congress had the opportunity to intervene, it did not do so.

Which, if I were the CIA about to undergo painful Congressional inquiries into past practices, I would want to be clearly established.

So here’s what has happened in the last 10 days. The Intelligence Community has severely undercut Dick Cheney’s propaganda efforts and threatened his plans to bring us to war. Someone–perhaps DOJ or perhaps CIA or perhaps both–has made it a lot harder for Bush to veto a bill getting the CIA out of the waterboarding business. And, at the same time, CIA has made it crystal clear that the waterboarding itself–as distinct from the destruction of the torture tapes–had legal sanction from Congress’ top intelligence leaders.

That all makes sense to me, in a way that doesn’t require the involvement of Republicans smear masters at all.

One more note. I suggested this might be a civil war within the CIA. That’s premised on two things. First, as far as I understand it, CIA officers are split over whether they think CIA should be in the waterboarding business. If so, the leak on the torture tapes may well be an attempt to force the issue on the part of those opposing torture. Furthermore, there’s an interesting chronology, in which the briefings and legal approval for torture happened before Porter Goss’ tenure (when he was giving it legal sanction in Congress), whereas the destruction of the tapes happened during Goss’ tenure as DCI. And, voila, the officer who had the most direct clash with Porter Goss before he resigned to protest Goss’ cronyism, Steven Kappes, is back in a senior position at CIA. So this may be a fight between the Gosslings and the professionals. But even granting Porter Goss’ Republican affiliation, that doesn’t mean any of this is a partisan fight.

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  1. klynn says:

    If you are correct, and I think you have real grounds to be correct, there’s a great deal more to come leak-wise.

  2. Rayne says:

    Is the civil war really between two factions — those who are okay with waterboarding, and those that aren’t?

    Larry Johnson’s comments appear to indicate at least one more possible faction: those in CIA who don’t want to take the heat for the damage contractors by under orders or with consent of DoD.

    I’ve never thought that CIA appreciated Rummy’s investment into military intelligence in order to bypass CIA, and Rummy likely pissed them off further with outsourcing to contract help, including other foreign agents.

  3. FrankProbst says:

    Sounds like a reasonable analysis to me. I totally agree that the Pelosi angle is coming from the intelligence community and not the Republican smear machine. I think a lot of our spooks have had it with the hand-wringing speeches from Congress, when Congress seems to have been briefed about his five years ago. Pelosi seems to be saying that they didn’t tell her very much, which begs the usual question: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

  4. Rayne says:

    Agh. I meant to point out, too, that until the Dems “run into the tackle” and lay what they know out in full public view, we can’t know that the Dems involved were not told that non-U.S. entities were handling these matters off American soil, and therefore it was all okay.

  5. nolo says:

    . . .Which, if I were the CIA about to undergo painful Congressional inquiries into past practices, I would want to be clearly established.

    So here’s what has happened in the last 10 days. The Intelligence Community has severely undercut Dick Cheney’s propaganda efforts and threatened his plans to bring us to war. Someone–perhaps DOJ or perhaps CIA or perhaps both–has made it a lot harder for Bush to veto a bill getting the CIA out of the waterboarding business. And, at the same time, CIA has made it crystal clear that the waterboarding itself–as distinct from the destruction of the torture tapes–had legal sanction from Congress’ top intelligence leaders.

    That all makes sense to me, in a way that doesn’t require the involvement of Republicans smear masters at all. . .

    with all of the above, i agree.

    i simply would suggest that the nuance offered
    by EW may never be verifiable. what is verifiable,
    is that porter goss is likely to be the focus of an
    obstruction of justice inquiry, if not an indictment.

    and, he is a named source for the wa po piece.
    i simply suggest motive to spin, here — and he
    has truckloads of motive. it likely won’t matter
    to the larger narrative — that is, he will be the focus,
    as opposed to the grand architect, cheney. . .

    but i do agree this blood is on all our hands.

    i simply suggest that the wa po was perhaps
    willingly used by porter goos, and the wa po
    willingly used porter goss, to try to grab some
    headlines back from the new york times — as
    the grey lady has simply owned the past week
    of scandal-breaking and coverage of the same.

    wa po needed a “me too!” piece; goss kindly offered.
    wa po honored the offer. thus the “expose”. . .

    just my $0.02.

    but my version doesn’t require a civil war
    inside intelligence agencies — nor a revolt.

    just ordinary courage of conviction. a
    conviction to let the truth, out.

    that is, i think the intelligence folks are actually
    just doing their job — telling the truth as they
    know it — and if that now means crossing the
    president, and his vice emperor — so be it.

    i wish they’d done so in 2002 or 2003.

    but that ship sailed.

    [more on this at my place. . .]

    p e a c e

    • emptywheel says:

      That piece was not sourced to Goss–one quote was. The rest was sourced to people who apparently did the briefings, which would put it back in 2002, before the Gosslings came to CIA.

      The reason I mentioned Steven Kappes is because I think he–and his allies–may well be a primary source fr the WaPo story. As Larry Johnson has made clear, Kappes was clearly involved in establishing the interrogation program. But he was NOT involved in destroying the tapes. So if the CIA is about to get in trouble for Goss’ decision, it would do well for CIA to 1) expose it as GOss, and 2) still insist, correctly, that Congress gave the torture legal sanction.

      If the WaPo was willingly used by Goss, then it would have made a much stronger argument that the destruction of the tapes was legal. It did not. Ergo, not a Goss article, primarily.

      • cinnamonape says:

        If the WaPo was willingly used by Goss, then it would have made a much stronger argument that the destruction of the tapes was legal. It did not. Ergo, not a Goss article, primarily.

        Huh? I don’t follow? Goss may have intended to use the Wash Po as a mouthpiece and offered them this new bit of information to generate an article and try to get his justification before the public. The authors may have simply editted out his statements about the legality of the tapes and his own lack of involvement in “ordering” their destruction. The NYT had dealt with those issues already, Goss didn’t offer anything new on those matters that wasn’t redundant…so they went with this other stuff.

        But Goss does benefit from suggesting that the Congressional leadership was fully briefed and made no objection to the “interrogation” methods PRIOR TO the torture of these individuals. Why? Because if the methods were approved, then the video that shows these acts wouldn’t be such a major deal. Destroying it wouldn’t have shown methods not tacitly approved by Pelosi, Roberts, Graham and Rep. Goss. Ex-CIA Director Goss could say “whatza big deal…you knew this was going on”.

        • emptywheel says:

          Goss has not yet (AFAIK) made an on the record statement about the tapes. The NYT got a “declined to comment.” If he had, I strongly suspect the WaPo would have included it.

      • FrankProbst says:

        In response to FrankProbst @ 7
        Does that mean that the Libby appeal will be announved/adjudicated shortly?

        My reading of it is that they’re dropping the appeal completely.

          • FrankProbst says:

            In response to FrankProbst @ 12
            Thanks, let me rephrase the question…

            Bush has approved Libby’s pardon?

            I think it’s more likely that it means the big donors are all saying, “We’re not funding this horseshit anymore.”

            It’s a little hard to keep proclaiming your innocence when the President’s own lawyer, whose job is to find ways to tell the President what he wants to hear, has said that you’re totally guilty.

            • Neil says:

              I think it’s more likely that it means the big donors are all saying, “We’re not funding this horseshit anymore.”

              Or, we paid for your defense, we paid for your fine, the president kept you out of jail wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper for us if he pardons you on his way out the door? BUT what if the fix is in and the Prez has agreed in advance?

    • Jeff says:

      Oh my. It’s not just that the defense fund has closed up shop. Libby has dropped his appeal – his filing on it was due tomorrow.

      Pardon now promised?

      • FrankProbst says:

        In response to FrankProbst @ 7
        Oh my. It’s not just that the defense fund has closed up shop. Libby has dropped his appeal – his filing on it was due tomorrow.

        Pardon now promised?

        My hunch would be no, but I’m wondering what EW thinks. I think the Libby defense fund ran out of money, and the donors probably see no point in appeals that are going to be lost. I also think the Cheney cabal wants this story out of the news. I continue to think that a pardon, even a last minute one, is unlikely. A pardon would lead to Libby immediately being hauled into the grand jury again. He’d have trouble pleading the fifth there, and Fitz would probably be willing to immunize him if he did.

        • bmaz says:

          Frank Probst – I dunno. Once the conviction is finalized, which will occur quite rapidly once the appeal is formally closed, there is nothing stopping Fitz from granting immunity. there will be no jeapord left on the case he was charged, tried and convicted on, and a prosecutor is free to immunize against or make whatever offers he wishes with regards to other potential criminal culpability without having to wait for any pardon.

      • scribe says:

        Just remember, dropping his appeal means Libby now gets to carry the titles “Convicted Felon”, “Convicted Perjurer”, “Liar” and such around for the rest of his miserable life.

        • MadDog says:

          Just remember, dropping his appeal means Libby now gets to carry the titles “Convicted Felon”, “Convicted Perjurer”, “Liar” and such around for the rest of his miserable life.

          Or the ever-pleasing phrase of “you’re a feckin’ criminal!

          And I expect his rejoinder to be “Don’t phrase me, bro!”

          • Leen says:

            And remember if you are black and beat the shit out of a white kid and our under age you will get tried, held in wrist and ankle shackles, convicted as an adult and do time.

            http://ap.google.com/article/A…..QD8TD31BO0

            And if you torture dogs
            http://weblogs.baltimoresun.co…..iving.html

            Prisons
            http://www.hrw.org/reports/200…..g00-01.htm

            But if you were in the Bush adminstration and outed an undercover agent, undermined National Security and then lied about it and obstructed justice….YOU WALK

            So who will hire Libby and pay him a couple hundred thousand dollars a year? The American Enterprise Institute? Consequences yeah right! Cry me a river

      • Leen says:

        That was my take at the Libby trial. Libby and his wife knew they would skip right over the Justice system. So much for Fitz’s words “truth is the engine of our Justice system” Yeah right!

        No need to wonder why there is such deep dis respect for our Justice system.
        http://firedoglake.com/2007/02…..ourthouse/

  6. phred says:

    EW — I think you have got this exactly right. I have two quick questions for you though…

    1) The Post listed 6 names (4 Dem and 2 Rep). Is this because membership shifted in the Gang of 4 among the Dems, but not the Reps? Or are we missing a couple of Republican names on the list of those briefed?

    2) For those of us who have not run across Kappes name before, would you give us a brief recap of who he is and what axe he has to grind against Cheney/Goss?

    And finally, it occurs to me reading your post that Goss got the nod to head CIA specifically because he already was well aware of the torture regime, and having signed off on it as a member of Congress, would not stop it as CIA chief. I remember at the time it was said that he got the nod due to his extensive experience in matters of intelligence, and being a member of Congress would be easily confirmed. However, now I think the rationale was all about keeping the wheels turning in the application of torture.

    • emptywheel says:

      Here is the membership of the Gang of Eight, over the span of the Bush Administration:

      SSCI Dem Leader: Graham until 2003, Jello Jay
      SSCI GOP Leader: Pat Roberts until 2006, then Kit Bond
      HPSCI Dem Leader: Pelosi until 2003, Harman through 2006, Reyes
      HPSCI GOP Leader: Goss until 2004, Hoekstra

      Senate Dem Leader: Daschle until 2004, Reid
      Senate GOP Leader: Trent Lott until 2002, Frist until 2006, McConnell
      House Dem Leader: Geppy until 2003, Pelosi
      House GOP Leader: Hastert until 2006, Boehner

      Some of those dates may be slightly off. But

      • JimWhite says:

        Just sayin’.
        You list seventeen names here. I notice that seven of them either no longer hold elected office or are retiring after the 2004 elections. That is a much higher turnover rate than the rest of Congress.
        Receiving a briefing can make your tenure in Congress brief.

      • MadDog says:

        One addition to your list (from TPM Muckraker’s Spencer Ackerman), is that weasel of weasels “Richard Shelby, (R-AK), was the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee in 2002.”

        • emptywheel says:

          Shoot. You’re right. And I was just talking elsewhere about how after Shelby leaked the NSA intercepts from 9/10, it gave BushCo a convenient excuse to not brief the Gang of Four (or Eight) for some time.

        • dakine01 says:

          I think Alaska (AK) has enough problems without being “credited” with Shelby as one of their Senators. :})

          He’s Alabama (AL). But we all get a little fat-fingered sometimes…

          • MadDog says:

            I think Alaska (AK) has enough problems without being “credited” with Shelby as one of their Senators. :})

            He’s Alabama (AL). But we all get a little fat-fingered sometimes…

            I’ll be sure to let Spencer Ackerman of TPM that he has really fat fingers. *g*

            My only excuse for not proof-reading the stuff of his that I quoted is…hmmm…when I think of it, I’ll let you know. *g*

    • emptywheel says:

      Kappes was in charge of Operations when Goss came in. He is, by all accounts, very competent, though I get the feeling he is definitely a hard ass (after a lifetime of operations work, you think???).

      Goss brought his GOsslings in in fall 2004, and in the process demanded that Kappes fire a top aide for insubordination or something. Instead, Kappes resigned. It was the most public example of the long-time career people who left under Goss.

      Then, when Cheney was pushing for Hayden as DCI last year, it appears there was a deal, to bring Kappes back as Deputy. He is one of the very few people to have that rank who rose through the ranks of the CIA, and his return made the career folks very happy to have a champion again. I think any attempt to end torture (because it’ll only get CIA officers in legal trouble, not for any principled reasons), but at the same time to insist on its legal sanction, would come out of a desire to protect the career officers.

      Kappes also vetted the NIE in SEptember, so he could well be one of the “senior careers” who threatened to go public. If Kappes had gone public and been legally sanction, I suspect it would have the same weight as if Comey and Ashcroft and a bunch of others ersigned at the same time.

      • phred says:

        Thanks EW, that helps. Any idea who was pushing for the deal to bring Kappes back at the same time as Hayden came in? Also, any idea what Kappes has been doing in the intervening years since his resignation under Goss?

      • Jeff says:

        Can I just say that, as great as Larry Johnson may be, I find it incredibly annoying the constant referral to this that or the other post from him. And I’m not saying it because I fail to recognize that one can simply ignore it and not click the link. I’m saying it’s more like advertising than a genuine contribution to the conversation. If you think there’s a particular point that contributes to the conversation, make it.

        • Leen says:

          sorry but I do believe the Kappes conversation here started after folks may have read what Larry had to say. Not sure but think so.

        • Neil says:

          Can I just say that, as great as Larry Johnson may be, I find it incredibly annoying the constant referral to this that or the other post from him. […] I’m saying it’s more like advertising than a genuine contribution to the conversation. If you think there’s a particular point that contributes to the conversation, make it.

          No I’m glad you did because I have perspective. It’s not so helpful to have peers post links to articles without taking time to extract the interesting bits and explain why they think its relevant to the thread. IMHO

  7. ProfessorFoland says:

    You use phrase “legal sanction” several times. That sounds like a technical term. Can members of Congress who have been briefed confer legal sanction? Or were you using the phrase more loosely? If so, might I suggest that they were offering “bureacratic sanction” or “political sanction”?

    A nitpick, but if they really were empowered to offer legal sanction, I’d like to know that!

    • emptywheel says:

      I was using the term loosely, but it is more than political or bureaucratic sanction.

      If BushCo had tortured without letting SSCI and HPSCI review it, he would technically have been outside of legal practices for Intelligence (though since he has an OLC ruling stating he can violate his own EOs, I’m not sure it matters). Incidentally, Saturday’s article states the briefings took place later in 2002, so they actually started after the Abu Zubaydah torture.

      But if Intell briefs the Committees on something and they don’t object or pass legislation preventing something, then Intell has fulfilled its oversight requirements.

      I actually think Jello Jay’s objection to the warrantless wiretap program may be strong enough to count as legal notice that the program was illegal, because he basically told Cheney the program seemed to be the same as the TIA program that Congress was in the process of making illegal.

  8. janetplanet says:

    After no WMD’s were found in Iraq, the administration blamed the Intelligence community. We knew Cheney was beating a path to the CIA, intimidating lower eschelon agents, cherry picking his rationals for war. I thought at the time it was a bad idea to piss-off the CIA, and CIA would make them pay for it. So, I agree with you that both the NIE and the tape destruction stories come from the CIA et al, not rightwing smearmeisters. The arrogance of the all-powerful(in their own minds) Cheney and Bush has done them in. I love the smell of schaedenfreude in the morning.

    • klynn says:

      Remeber, Bush made a speech in 2004 where he stated that we were “still looking” for the connection of Iran to 9-11.

  9. chrisc says:

    Hasn’t there been a lot of turnover at the CIA in the last couple of years or so?
    In April of this year, Hayden said that half the CIA was hired since 9/11.
    When I first heard that I worried that the CIA had become politicized in the same way that DOJ was politicized. I know a lot of people left when Porter Goss took over, and some left when he left.

    When the Iran NIE came out, I was relieved. It seems as if the CIA is actually trying to job the job they were supposed to be doing without politics. But look at the push back from the neocons. They are discrediting the CIA conclusions. CIA must be under intense pressure to perform to political expectations. I am sure Cheney is plotting to destroy each one of them personally and as a collective agency.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, klynn — that is interesting, has been interesting to watch the weird reaction overseas.

      It’s one of the reasons I’m concerned about the contractor angle, beyond feedback from Larry Johnson and others. Why is Europe still acting as if nothing happened, still acting as if it’s August 2007?

      Were their own intelligence agencies likewise compromised by “contractors” and remain in thrall to the same today?

      Something just doesn’t add up here.

    • Neil says:

      (Sorry all, I am still having problems with the link icon)

      Select the word or words, which is the location you wish to place the hyperlink. Click on the chain link icon. Type or better yet PASTE in the URL.

      • klynn says:

        Yep tried that but my screen freezes. The only way that it is working is to cut and paste into the text of the response box. When I highlight or even try to paste into the link box after hitting the link icon, my screen freezes and my edit functions shut down. So, for now, I’ll have to keep on pasting links into the text box for responses.

        After how long it took bmaz and maddog to get this site to work for me, this quirk seems minor on my end and should work out over time.

        • Neil says:

          klynn, pasting the URL as opposed to making a pretty hyperlink is not an issue as far as I’m concerned. What I was saying is that merely referencing an article does not explain how it is relevent. Here’s what I was advocting for, paste the relevent pargraph or two or three or four in your post. If you can mark it as a quotation using the ” features so much the better. If you want to provide a link to the source article, paste the url or use the hyperlink feature (the one that is currently misbehaving for you). Most importantly, say why you think the reference is relevent to the thread. Anyway, that is my humble opinion, worth what you paid for it.

  10. BayStateLibrul says:

    Question for Dana Peroxide this morn:

    Reporter: We understand that Libby has dropped his appeal, will
    the President pardon Libby? If so, when… if so, can Bush be
    tried as a co-consprator in obstructing justice?
    I’ll take the answer off the air…

  11. Leen says:

    Thanks for digging EW.

    I don’t think questions about the intentions of the WaPo, particular reporters agendas, sources, the CIA’s attorneys, possible enemies of Pelosi and Rockefeller are “complaining”. I think these questions are logical, rational and healthy especially given the track record of the MSM.

    Justin Raimando’s latest

    Justin Raimando’s new article on the NIE blowback
    http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12030

    Iran, Nukes,
    and the ‘Laptop of Death’
    How we were almost lied into war – again

    Raimando “The question that cries out for an answer, however, is: who duped us the last time around?”

    Hello Senator Rockefeller where is the complete report on Phase II of the SSCI?

  12. JohnJ says:

    The first thing that came out was that congresscritter were shown virtual presentations of the torture facilities. I’d like to see how accurately and honestly this was presented before I condemn the viewers. Not that I’m holding hope.

    I lived in the DC suburbs for almost 20 years. My neighbors represented virtually every agency including my 2 exFBI parents and the now non-active spook down the street (his wife got caught playing around, no more active duty for him). Of the several CIA people I knew, they would be the types to do this carefully timed information release. They were all intelligent proud people and information is what they do for a living. I think most of them would be capable of sacrificing their careers for the right reason.

    Short, this fits with what I know of these professionals.

    • klynn says:

      Totally agree. With my time in DC, same experience. Plus have two friends at the agency who would sacrifice their careers in order to protect our country.

  13. nolo says:

    as to what you wrote — you are
    the expert on press tech — not i. . .
    so i’ll concur. . . but this:

    . . .If the WaPo was willingly used by Goss, then it would have made a much stronger argument that the destruction of the tapes was legal. It did not. Ergo, not a Goss article, primarily. . .

    i hear you on the first point, but as to
    the second — what if all the wa po wanted
    to do. . . was simply. . . sell papers? i mean,
    they didn’t need an over-riding, philosophical,
    world-view to advance — they only needed
    to be widely quoted by all of us, to sell
    more advertising space. . . same with the
    new york times, in my opinion. the wa po did
    not go out of its way to support goss — it just
    quite liberally quoted from him, on the record.

    that sells papers.

    now — a nit, i know, but i agree with the
    prof — it is only the united states supreme
    court that will give legal sanction to water-
    boarding — or not do so. . . congress approves
    unconstitutional measures fairly regularly.

    so, i agree, prof — the pelosi silence is
    only one-link in a much larger chain to ulti-
    mately establishing lawfulness.

    great stuff — EW, you;ve got
    me [thought-?] provoked!

    p e a c e

  14. Escoffier says:

    The intelligence group that stared down Cheney did a preemptive leak to keep Pelosi and Jello Jay from squashing any oversight. By leaking to show their complicity, these two will have to stay out of the decisions on oversight so they cannot cover it all up or make it go away. The WH may have used this info in the past to make them take oversight “off the table”, so why would they release info that they could use to control them. These leaks seem to me to be from intelligence to make Dem leadership recuse themselves, and to make the torture “heros” look like the criminal conspiracy scum that they are hiding evidence of what they have done.

    • JohnJ says:

      Thank you, that was the most plausible narrative yet.

      To add to that, I don’t think the “jackets”, as JEHoover called his blackmail files (sorry mom, I had to call a spade a spade), on these people are empty yet. That “man sized safe” can hold a lot of s..t.

      A side:
      My mother was tasked to listen in on Hoovers phone calls, before they had tape recorders, to prove he never really “blackmailed” anyone. What that woman took to her grave could’a devastated the FBI. To bad we don’t have anyone placed like that in the Big Dick’s office.

      • Escoffier says:

        I am glad someone thinks I am not too off the wall. It seems the intell group are going after anyone who will try to stop what they are trying to accomplish. Their list is getting shorter. Dick, check. George, check. The mustache guy who was director of operations, check. Pelosi, check. Jello Jay, check. Who is next will be interesting.
        Your mom sounds like a real trooper, not many of those left. My mom was secretary to a fed judge during desegregation in the south. My dad was afraid she was going to get killed. That was when judges did the right thing, not what was popular. I didn’t understand how brave they were until I was an adult.

  15. marksb says:

    FrankProbst said,

    Pelosi seems to be saying that they didn’t tell her very much, which begs the usual question: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

    Yeah well the thing that pisses me off about this Congress is the idea that their job is to sit passive and listen to the briefings.
    Nope.
    Ask hard questions.
    Probe for hidden details.
    Find what’s covered up.

    Oversight: it’s not just hearings!

  16. TomMaguire says:

    Characteristically insightful. A day may come when I vex you on the possibilty that the CIA was in revolt with a particular criminal referral back in the summer of 2003, but this is not that day; having come to mutual agreement on the concept of a CIA revolt, we can debate specific instances elsewhere (elsetime?).

    Re Porter Goss – it does not follow that just because he declined to speak to the WaPo on the record he did not speak to them at all; maybe he is being cleverly disguised as a former official.

    But of potentially greater interest – we all remember that Porter Goss worked for the CIA at one time.

    But do we also remember where in the CIA Goss came to fame? In all the great wide world of the 60’s and 70’s Cold War, Goss was involved in the Bay of Pigs and Latin America. I find that to be very interesting given the emergence of Jose Rodriguez in this debacle.

    However, I can’t get the timing to work – Goss left the CIA in 1972, and Rodriguez was lauded in the Times for “three decades” of service – I am guessing that to mean the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, but even if it is literally thirty years he would have been starting after Goss left.

    Of course, that does not mean that they didn’t have mutual friends and mutual interests. Or perhaps they are on the opposite side of some old antagonisms. But I suspect a Goss-Rodriguez relationship would be of general interest, and I am certain I won’t have time to poke at or around it.

    • JohnJ says:

      ““three decades” of service” in government can include military and any other gov job by the way the GSA handles it.

      When my dad went to the FCC after being in the private sector, he got seniority etc from his time in the Navy and the FBI.

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      Interesting that there is enough institutional resistance left at CIA
      after decades of team B and repeated purges and the final insult of the
      directorate of national security “reform”. Any chance that planeload of
      nukes that got “lost” then found at the launch point for an airstrike
      loosened lips to sink the ship?

  17. alabama says:

    [email protected]: seven years is a long time, revenge is a dish best eaten cold, and the players who count are rarely or never to be seen. For what it’s worth, I think Negroponte brought back Kappes, and has more than a little to do with what’s going on in the shark-tank.

    By chance, I’ve known some CIA folks over the years. We all know they regard their “company” as a club, and that they also take pride in their work. They know how to survive, and even to tolerate, various kinds of abuses from competing agencies, chiefly DIA. I think they were furious at the meltdown (not of their own making) that led to 9-11, but this would not in itself provoke a mutiny. Not even Cheney’s interferences would provoke a mutiny of much consequence. But the outing of Valery Plame? This one act was a declaration of war, and that war has been waged, more-or-less openly, every since. With the allegiance, to be sure, of friends in the FBI, and, most importantly, of Powell during his tenure at State–he being the only military/civilian figure who could generate and assemble enough pressure to get the Fitzgerald game in play.

    Powell is everyone’s favorite punching-bag, but he sure as hell knows how to get even. The most interesting of his moves–and coming after the launching of the Plame investigation–was Negroponte’s appointment to the UN, and his subsequent turns in Iraq, as the Intelligence Czar, and now as the man who really runs State.

    In the picture I’m drawing here, Congress is always a minor player (CIA has always so regarded it, which may explain a number of its problems, as with Senator Richard Shelby, for a recent example). And the getting of Cheney and has been their major mission ever since the outing of Plame. It’s a message being delivered “unto the tenth generation,” as it were.

    This whole question of torture is a weapon they wield, and if it were to bring down Bush himself, they would regard it as a minor moment in the greater drama of their claim to power.

  18. radiofreewill says:

    EW – Outstanding! It’s not often one gets to see an invisible hand at work!

    I also agree with the Civil War analogy, and I see it as extensible throughout Bush’s Political Influence.

    Bush never really cared about Vietnam, and he’s not re-fighting it now – but he’s okay with the Military thinking it’s their Vietnam Redemption!

    Bush is Still fighting the Civil War – and the lines are still drawn the same: Those Who Support Right-less Torture of Non-Citizens and Those of US Who Support Basic Human Rights for All.

    Politicization at DoJ? CIA? PIN? DoD? DHS? ICE? State?

    Split along the lines of Un-questioning Loyalty to the Big Boss, and Equal Equal Human Rights Representation for All.

    The first time, the South ‘Seceded’ from the Union. This time, BushCo has Covertly crawled inside Our Government to ‘Supercede’ the Union.

  19. skdadl says:

    O/T, but the judgement in Conrad Black’s case is just coming through right now (if you have access to CBC). This is another of Fitz’s cases, btw. Judge St Eve is just working through the sentencing guidelines and arguments, and she has things located in the range of 78 to 97 months.

    I’d link you to Mark Steyn’s version of live-blogging at Maclean’s, but you don’t really want that. Steyn is definitely no Marcy Wheeler.

    • FrankProbst says:

      O/T, but the judgement in Conrad Black’s case is just coming through right now (if you have access to CBC). This is another of Fitz’s cases, btw. Judge St Eve is just working through the sentencing guidelines and arguments, and she has things located in the range of 78 to 97 months.

      I’d link you to Mark Steyn’s version of live-blogging at Maclean’s, but you don’t really want that. Steyn is definitely no Marcy Wheeler.

      How’s he doing with his attempt to serve his time in Canada, even though he’s no longer Canadian? My sense is that the Canadians are thoroughly enjoying the irony of his downfall.

      • skdadl says:

        Well, y’know … yeah. Some of us are.

        Actually, I’m never that keen on sending people to jail … Or at least I used to think that. Lately, I may have been changing my mind.

        In theory, Conrad should have a lot of trouble getting his citizenship back if he is a convicted felon in the U.S., but in fact I suspect that will depend on who is in government as the process goes on. The current Conservative government would be sympathetic is my guess. They’ll be facing an election within the year. Lord help us all if they win a majority, and if that happens, Conrad Black will be one of the lesser of our worries.

  20. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Dubya does have this strange resonance with George Wallace that made
    him a redneck hero, he is still beloved in that corner especially as he
    gets deeper in and wilder in his public responses. You have him nailed.

  21. portorcliff says:

    Alabama @54…

    EW’s analysis and your comment make an epiphany moment. Keep an eye on Addington. I believe he has a target on his back.

  22. TheraP says:

    Just posted at tpm cafe by Larry Johnson:

    Leave it to the intrepid Larisa Alexandrovna to ferret out a key piece of information–the torture tapes were not destroyed in 2005. Just take time to read the letter U.S. Attorneys, Novak and Raskin, sent to the Federal Court on 23 October 2007.

    Especially check out page 2, paragraph2 of the letter. The U.S. Attorneys “viewed the video tape and transcript . . . of the interview” in September 2007.

    Sure would appear that Jose A. Rodriguez did not destroy anything. How can you watch a destroyed tape? Way to go Larisa.

    section break

    link to the article, so you can follow the other links: http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/co…..ent-320640

    • Jeff says:

      How does Alexandrova know that the recordings referred to in the filing in the Moussaoui case are, contra what was initially reported in the New York Times, of the same individuals whose recorded torture was destroyed by Rodriguez? The Times indicated that they were of distinct individuals.

  23. Hugh says:

    I agree with Professor Foland that informing a few Congress people about some activities does not amount to a legal sanction by the Congress. It doesn’t imply either that the Congress has discharged its responsibility of oversight.

    What I find curious is the keying off on Nancy Pelosi. At the time she was Minority Whip and soon to become with Gephardt’s stepping down Minority Leader. In this, however, she is a something of a bit player. The real people to make waves if they had so chosen were the Republican chairmen. They, of course, didn’t. Sure, she could have made a speech on the House floor, but that would have required her to go against House traditions (which as part of the House leadership would have gone against her job in that leadership). And what could she have said? That a year after 9/11 (with the wounds still fresh) the CIA maybe was thinking about torture (which as far as she knew it had not yet engaged in) at some point in the future (although CIA counsel was vetting the process)?

    I am not defending her role here, merely trying to understand it.

    As for Goss, he was deeply involved in all this both when he was in the House and then as DCI. And his name has cropped up as a source in some of these stories so he is definitely not staying aloof. Dragging Pelosi into this is exactly the kind of thing a partisan hack like Goss would do.

    Finally, Kappes is a big supporter of the CIA as an institution. He was on the operations side. This group may have been responsible for some of the CIA’s input into the NIE but I would think that the analytical side had very much more. Under no circumstances should Kappes be considered a good guy.

  24. alank says:

    Hope to hear more from Jane Harmon.

    Rep. Jane Harman Honored at CIA

    June 18, 2007

    CIA Director Michael V. Hayden today presented the Agency Seal Medal to Rep. Jane Harman in appreciation of her “thoughtful and thorough” oversight of CIA as ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The medal is awarded to people outside the Agency who have made significant contributions to CIA’s mission.

    Speaking at a luncheon at CIA Headquarters, Director Hayden said, “Jane’s brand of oversight was unique as she is–perceptive, constructive, active.”

    “To be sure, she was vigilant about CIA’s budget and authorities,” he added. “But she was just as interested in our people. She’s on a first-name basis with many of our chiefs overseas, and when something was happening–good or bad–she would pick up the phone to see what they needed, ask about their families, and the families of their officers.”

    Director Hayden noted that Rep. Harman, who left the Intelligence Committee at the end of the 109th Congress, has a deep knowledge of both the Intelligence Community itself and the major challenges to national security. Citing her “strong hand” in shaping intelligence legislation since 2001, Director Hayden also praised her insight into threats such as Islamic extremism.

    “Well before this danger burst into American consciousness on 9/11, Jane understood and spoke forcefully about al-Qa’ida’s intent to attack our homeland. Today, she remains an influential voice on the subject of global terrorism and our country’s need to be agile and creative so that we stay at least one step ahead of this evolving threat.”

    Rep. Harman’s husband, Sidney, and several friends and staff members attended the luncheon. Director Hayden and his wife, Jeanine, were joined by senior officials from across the Agency to honor Rep. Harman and thank her for her exemplary service.

  25. Scarecrow says:

    Expanded statement from Pelosi, via TPM:

    ”On one occasion, in the fall of 2002, I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for the both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.
    ”I had no further briefings on the techniques. Several months later, my successor as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed. It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred.”

    • phred says:

      Scarecrow — Given Bybee’s disavowal of the Geneva Convention protections in January of 2002 and the fact that Al Qaeda members were already in custody in spring 2002 (see EW’s timeline here), it seems to me that either Pelosi was lied to in 2002 about this “future” implementation, or she is weaseling now.

    • selise says:

      Expanded statement from Pelosi, via TPM:

      ”On one occasion, in the fall of 2002, I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for the both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.
      ”I had no further briefings on the techniques. Several months later, my successor as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed. It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred.”

      it irks me no end that i knew we were torturing people in early 2002 by reading the msm and human rights organization’s reports. this nonsense from speaker pelosi about not knowing we were using torture because she wasn’t fully briefed means either that she’s misleading us, or she’s ignorant to the point of being incompetent.

      oh – and the bit about the administration advising them it was legal? this is the same administration that had just said that the geneva conventions didn’t apply. when rumsfeld said that, i went and read the geneva conventions (which the icrc helpfully has posted on their website, along with the commentary)…. ianal, but even i could tell that of course the geneva conventions applied to the people were rounding up, and that rummy was lying.

      anyone, and this applies especially to members of congress, who took the administration at their word about what was and was not legal in our treatment of detainees immediately after the lies we were being told wrt the geneva conventions is either an idiot, not competent to hold senior office in our government, or maliciously lying to cover their own misdeeds.

      argrhhhh!

      • Rayne says:

        Agreed about Pelosi, but I am wondering if there’s a third reason.

        See my comment towards the top of this thread about contractors — by which I mean not only companies like Dyncorp and Blackwater, but other foreign entities.

        Was there some party involved as a “contractor” in the interrogations about which certain members of Congress will never speak ill? Are they compromised or blackmailed whenever a certain entity comes into play?

        Add that to the generally odd reaction from EU governments (pretending the released NIE didn’t shift away from the hardline), the non-denial denials from both sides of the aisle, the comment(s) by seasoned professionals about “contractors”, and I’m just not certain we don’t have a different problem here than a simple lack of transparency.

        But the only way to deal with the problem is head on — take your damned lumps and air it all out, now.

  26. WilliamOckham says:

    I have a little bit different view of what’s happening. One thing is clear. All the hubbub means that a whole lot of people think that somebody’s going to jail over this. Despite what people are saying now, everybody involved in the torture regime knew, or should have known, that what they were doing was illegal, immoral, and damn stupid. The operations folks in the CIA live in a weird legal netherworld. In theory, they are supposed to obey our laws while having the freedom to break other countries’ laws. In practice, that’s impossible. In the case of torture, it’s against our laws no matter where you do it or who you do it to. They were obviously willing to do it, but they wanted some paperwork in place to incriminate the people giving the orders.

    The Bush administration, at the behest of Richard Bruce Cheney, gave it to them. I suspect the tapes (and the virtual tour) were made with the express purpose of showing them to political types to draw them further into the web of criminality and deceit.

    I think the CIA is implicating Congressional leaders, but they aren’t the real targets. The CIA doesn’t want the Administration to make the “rogue agency” argument and scapegoat Jose Rodriguez and others, but the CIA has no cards to play against the Administration. The CIA is trying to either goad the Congress into taking on the Administration or goad them into covering up the whole affair. From an institutional perspective, I don’t think they much care which way it plays out. Unfortunately, I heard Jay Rockefeller using the rogue agency line this morning on NPR.

  27. alank says:

    Also from TPM:

    I found this response from Jane Harman particularly interesting.

    Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the committee’s top Democrat in January 2003, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program. Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA’s program because of strict rules of secrecy.

    “When you serve on intelligence committee you sign a second oath — one of secrecy,” she said. “I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything.”

    This has been coming up quite a bit lately. This week, we also learned that Harman received at least some information about the CIA torture tapes, which were subsequently destroyed. But, Harman argues, she wasn’t “free to disclose anything.”

    Matt Ygleasis raised a very good point this week in response to this argument.

    What members who find themselves in the position Harman says she’s in — and the position that Dick Durbin, Carl Levin, and others found themselves in regarding the 2002 NIE — need to realize is that on some level acquiescence in these kind of abuses winds up legitimizing them. A member who believes he or she is in possession of evidence of crimes being committed and covered-up through illegitimate classification ought to seriously consider civil disobedience: calling a press conference, stating the facts, and accepting responsibility for the consequences. The White House could, of course, then turn around and seek to prosecute a member for violating classification laws, and the member could argue justification and we’d have it out. That’s a tough call to make, clearly. But our political leaders have responsibilities to the country and to the Constitution….

    It’s a point I wish more Dems had kept in mind.

    • phred says:

      I agree with this up to a point. But the consequences of revealing highly classified information are not those of your garden variety civil disobedience. We must create a legal framework within which people in possession of classified information who believe criminal conduct has occurred can report this to a court/neutral review panel/something, so that an individual does not risk their livelihood, freedom, or possibly life (for those who would cry treason at such revelations). The framework needs to be broadly available not to just the Gang of 4, but ALL government employees, so midlevel career civil servants would be free to report criminal conduct as well.

      • alank says:

        Perhaps a framework is needed, but it’s not likely that Jane Harmon would be the sort of person to leap at such an opportunity given her credentials as an AIPAC shill and chief promotor of a Thought Crime bill:

        Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA) is sponsoring H.R. 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. It proposes the establishment of a commission composed of members of the House and Senate, Homeland Security and others, to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States….” Here are a few definitions. They seem to include anything that any authority could feel threatened by.

        more comment…

        • phred says:

          alank — I agree that Harman is hardly a poster child for honoring the Constitution. But if such a legal framework existed, then she and others like Jello Jay couldn’t very well just write letters and tuck them in their safes and pretend they have done their jobs. If they are aware of potentially criminal conduct and fail to report it, then they would be on the hook themselves, since the Constitution requires them to reveal such information. All I’m suggesting is closing a glaring legal loophole that permits all manner of malfeasance and lets those in the know shrug their shoulders and walk away. I agree that we’ll never get the likes of Pelosi and Harman to act appropriately, but we can make sure they are legally accountable for their actions.

          Further, if the career civil servants have access to this mechanism, it would make it harder for the powerful elite to get away with their misconduct.

          • alank says:

            I see your point. It would be consistent with the Nuremberg principles, not that the Allied Forces and their legatees ever applied such principles consistently wrt their own actions.

  28. bmaz says:

    How do you “smear” someone who is filthy dirty with the mucky goo of complicity to begin with? In this case, that would be the Democratic Intel leadership that acquiesced in the immoral and illegal behavior Cheney/Bush directed their minions to engage in. I agree that his is not necessarily a hit piece on Democrats; but, if it is, so what they deserve it.

  29. Rayne says:

    Note this line in the letter from USA-VA to Williams/Brinkema, page 2:

    “Further, the CIA came into possession of the three recordings under unique circumstances involving separate national security matters unrelated to the Moussaoui prosecution.”

    WTF? Did these turn up during an investigation into other wrongdoing, including spying, foreign or domestic?

    And then this bit on page 5 of the same letter:

    As best as can be determined, it appears that the authors of the Declarations relied on assurances of the component of the CIA that [redacted] unknowing that a different component had contact with [redacted].

    Sorry, but I have to believe there’s another entity involved here.

  30. emptywheel says:

    I think you are correct–a number of people have assumed, because Mazzetti linked to the DOJ letter, that it was a reference to the tapes taht were destroyed. At least according to Mazzetti’s article, they were not.

  31. Rayne says:

    The letter to Williams/Brinkema might suggest another problem; has evidence been hidden in other files besides the one to which the evidence directly pertains? Why would recordings of interrogations be filed with a case to which they don’t contribute in any way?

    • Jeff says:

      I don’t quite understand your point here, but I will say that there are many many unanswered, puzzling questions raised both by the DoJ letter and the original Mazzetti article. It’s not even clear what the connection between the DoJ letter and the substance of the article is apart from the fact that they both refer to previously unknown recordings of interrogations of designated enemy combatants. (I suspect Mazzetti got to the information about abu Zubaydah and the other guy when he was doing reporting following up on the revelation in the DoJ letter, which was flagged by McClatchy, at least among others.)

      But in any case, among the questions raised by the DoJ letter and Mazzetti article is the possibility that the CIA fobbed off the recordings to the countries in which the interrogations took place – or at least the stations there, it’s unclear – in order to make declarations in various contexts that the government did not possess any such recordings.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        How simple.
        All the more reason for them to push that 2002 Bybee memo stating that ‘Geneva Conventions’ no longer apply — self-deceptive, legally spurious, and stupid. But probably only one of the ways they tried to convince themselves they were free of legal harm.

        Well… that, plus hiring contractors.
        Many sources have reported that ‘contractors’ include Ugandans, Venezuelans, Columbians, and other non-US nationals.

  32. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Looks like the professionals vs politicizers, and it’s been a damn long time coming.

    If Wm Ockham is correct (and he has a good track record), then here’s hoping that a host of politicizers end up going to jail — among them, contractors. And those who gave orders.

    If that’s the next move, then the action now seems to turn to DoJ, the ABA, and other legal entities with enough influence to create enough legal pressure so that this festering disaster is exposed, examined, and some accountability finally enters the picture. (Yeah, I’m a dreamer.) However, it’s hard to see how the professionals can possibly win — at least, over the longer term — UNLESS this is far more publicly exposed, and unless convictions are handed down. Otherwise, the politicizers will continue to infect the system and rewrite history.

    Surely the legal system poses a far bigger threat to the politicizers than Congress ever has? Here’s hoping that the Courts still have enough integrity to proceed judicously. And here’s hoping — fervently — that CIA was able to get ‘enough paper in place to incriminate those who gave the orders for torture.’ If that ever came to pass, it would be a near miracle.

    Question, if Goss was appointed CIA Dir in Aug 2004, was the ‘laptop of death’ walked in to the CIA before his appointment, or after? Was he a party to enabling the neocon agenda — either by negligance, or by advocacy? Because the timing of the arrival of the ‘laptop of death’ could be interesting. Was its arrival a setup to enable his politicized agenda?

    Anyone know?

  33. Rayne says:

    Jeff — I think they fobbed off more than the recordings, and that’s how they persuaded Pelosi and others that the torture was legal. They would only claim that it didn’t happen on American soil and that American troops or CIA were not actually committing the acts of torture. (Think about it: in 2002, way too many Americans believed Iraq still had WMD, and members of Congress including Dems may have been among them, especially if certain groups or entities outside our government were also pushing that line. It would have been so easy to believe at that point in time.)

    Jeebus, they had full transcripts in cables? That’s incredibly hubristic, IMO, which means they felt they would never have a problem with how the interrogations were conducted….

    The DOJ letter raises a whole slew of questions, even if the bread crumb trail between the so-called “destroyed tapes” and the coincidentally discovered tapes mentioned in the letter is very thin.

    – Were the interrogations covered in the “destroyed tapes” also the subject of cables? Was the request for the recordings interpreted and parsed so carefully that the cables weren’t produced?

    – Were the interrogations’ recordings buried in other files in such a way that they wouldn’t be found on a first-pass?

    – Were the correct CIA or third-party entities or groups asked for the recordings?

    All of it just makes me want to puke.

  34. Rayne says:

    Oh, and then the time of the letter to Williams/Brinkema…dd. 25-OCT-07

    Was the fix in with Mukasey at that point, or no?

    Why did Rosenberg’s office volunteer this “correction” at this point in time, versus any other time?

  35. bmaz says:

    Jeff, Rayne and RofTL – I don’t say this as a hard statement of fact as to this exact instance(s); but, as a general rule, having “contractors”, “foreign agents” etc. will not remove culpability from the government if the actions were nevertheless done at the request, direction and benefit to the government. The contractors, agents etc. simply become operative agents of the government for legal purposes. Again, I mention this simply as a general consideration, the specifics and details of each individual case determine the result, but no lawyer in his right mind would want to defend his CIA or whatever client based only on the thought that he farmed out his wet work.

    • Jeff says:

      as a general rule, having “contractors”, “foreign agents” etc. will not remove culpability from the government if the actions were nevertheless done at the request, direction and benefit to the government.

      Not quite to the point I was making. My speculation was that fobbing off the tapes to others helped enable the government to claim to the Moussaoui court that it did not have possession of any such tapes. The original Times report, I believem indicated that at a certain point the tapes were given to the countries in which the interrogations took place – or at least to the CIA stations there – and my guess is that was part of an effort to say technically true but deeply deeply misleading things to the court, and perhaps others.

      • bmaz says:

        Fair enough as to your specific point, it was kind of a hybrid response/thought to the discussion of all three that I named. As to your specific point, I think there is still applicability somewhat though. If I recall correctly, this whole area was a huge and repetitive issue with the two parties and Brinkema and the discussion involved knowledge and existence of tapes, transcripts etc. by the government, not restricted to current possession of the items. Therefore, if the point I made is true (and I think it is) they don’t get any help in your speculative situation either. For what little its worth…..

        • Rayne says:

          And my response to you is that we’d have to prove just as Karpinski couldn’t that anybody upstairs in the chain of command gave the order to anybody to conduct torture.

          If Karpinski couldn’t do it to save her job, and the grunts who were punished for Abu Ghraib couldn’t, how do we prove that there were orders?

          “Outsourcing” torture makes it easier to firewall off SecDef and White House, just as outsourcing storage of recordings does; just another brick in the wall.

  36. cinnamonape says:

    EW~ Wouldn’t it be more parsimonious if Porter Goss and ONE CIA agent familiar with the briefings were the source of what Pelosi said and did at the 2003 “virtual briefing”? Goss is used as a cited source for some of the information in the article. He was there at the briefing. That could mean that he made both “one the record” and “off the record” comments…apparently a very typical method with the inside the beltway media.

    Thus Goss confirms what the agent said, and vice versa. No need for a second confirming agent. This fulfills the “two confirmatory sources” rule for unsourced statements.

    And why would CIA dissidents ONLY target Pelosi…although it also makes Graham out to be a liar, but only since he says he never recalls ANY such briefing on waterboarding. But Pelosi is the only one who is followed up by contacting someone familiar with her. Graham and Roberts are cross-checked. And Goss’ comments are pretty much “what Nancy had to know, what she said”…not “What I said”. The WashPo article has the whole feel of a hit focused on Pelosi and not on the “Gang of 4″ in general. Or are you suggesting that it’s the other “pro-torture” camp within the CIA that retaliated against the anti-torture camp for leaking the tape and NIE stories?

    But aren’t the former pressing the Republican positions on these issues. And wasn’t Rep. Goss brought in by Bush to clear out those namby-pambys worried about legal niceties…folks like Kappes? Steven Kappes, forced out of Ops by Goss (along with half a dozen other Assistant Directors within the Division of Operations), and was replaced by none other than Jose “Eraserhead” Rodriguez, IIRC!

    And then there are the comments about what Pelosi “knew” that vaguely “suggest” that she was briefed about waterboarding AT THAT TIME, and didn’t object. That is if you want to read into the statement that way. Or one can read it that she was briefed about “interrogation techniques” (which ones) and told that the DOJ considered them legal. That’s a broad swathe with a lot of territory between. But the placing of the three sentences together implies Pelosi was briefed specifically about waterboarding, failed to lodge any protests about that method, and that she was silent throughout.

    But her statement suggests that there were differences between the briefings that Pelosi and Harman received, in terms of techniques.

    • emptywheel says:

      My doubt on this comes first from a respect for Warrick and Eggen. The former was one of the first journalists to push back against the bad Iraq intelligence. And the latter was the Post’s primary reporter on USA Purge; he broke a lot of great stories that were well-sourced and honest.

      To make the claim that their source knew what Pelosi did and didn’t recall if it were someone like Goss (who is not, anyway, a congressional source anymore) would be the height of dishonesty–as bad as Judy’s worst.

      And frankly, if Pelosi had been misrepresented, she would have made sure her statement refuted the refutation. Nothing in her statement does that.

  37. cinnamonape says:

    The Agent that Goss insisted be fired was Robert Grenier, and Kappes resigned as a result. Ergo both Kappes and Grenier were opposed to the CIA’s waterboarding policy.

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

    Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

    Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”

    Grenier also opposed “excessive” interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water, according to Cannistraro.

    Porter Goss, who was appointed head of the CIA in August 2004 with a mission to “clean house”, has been angered by a series of leaks from CIA insiders, including revelations about “black sites” in Europe where top Al-Qaeda detainees were said to have been held.

    In last Friday’s New York Times, Goss wrote that leakers within the CIA were damaging the agency’s ability to fight terrorism and causing foreign intelligence organisations to lose confidence. “Too many of my counterparts from other countries have told me, ‘You Americans can’t keep a secret’.”

    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.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. Kappes resigned because Goss’ COS asked him to fire his deputy, Michael Sulick:

      The incident that directly led to his resignation occurred in November 2004, shortly after Mr. Goss took over at the agency. Patrick Murray, who was Mr. Goss’s chief of staff, ordered Mr. Kappes to fire his deputy, Michael Sulick, after Mr. Sulick had a testy exchange with Mr. Murray.

      Mr. Kappes, who at the time was in charge of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, refused and chose to resign instead.

      As your own link shows, Grenier was fired a year and a half later, and just a number of months before Kappes returned to CIA.

  38. bmaz says:

    Rayne, my comment is in relation to the court proceedings with Brinkema and how the issue of this requested discovery was phrased. Point being that the claim that the torture and taping were done and possessed by “someone else” is not a particularly effective defense to perjury and contempt of court allegations when the actions of the “someone else” were done at the government’s direct request and under their direct supervision.

  39. bmaz says:

    Also, “how do we prove that there were orders?” Well, we had, and still have, the guy tortured and the government’s own statement admits they had and destroyed the tapes of the torture; I think that establishes the point close enough…..

  40. Dismayed says:

    I read the first half of the responses, so sorry if this is retread.

    I agree with you, EW. It’s really the only way it makes sense.

    I think the intel community is really just tired of being shat upon. They got the rap for bad intel going in to Iraq, when the intel wasn’t bad. Cheney just kept the pits and threw out the cherries, and mixed in some frog crap.

    Now the dems a playing high and mighty on torture when they are just as guilty as the guy’s ordering the floggings.

    Hell, yeah they’re putting it out there. Cheney might have fooled ‘em once, but they aren’t taking the rap for “bad intel leading to war” again, and they ain’t going to have no pharasis dems beating them up over what they tacitly approved.

    Nancy needs to be returned to ordinary citizenship. If her consituants reelect her, it’s a bad omen for progressive politics.