The Pointy End of a Dull Spear

The NYT has a fascinating profile of Jose Rodriguez–the guy who ordered the destruction of the CIA torture tapes. This anecdote conveys the kind of guy we’re dealing with:

Not long after the tapes were destroyed, Mr. Goss held a management retreat for top agency officials meant in part to soothe tensions among the agency’s dueling branches. There the deputy director for intelligence — the head of analysis — complained openly about the arrogance of the clandestine branch and said undercover officers thought they could get away with anything.

That was too much for Mr. Rodriguez. He stood up in the room, according to one participant in the meeting, and shouted in coarse language that the analysis chief should “wake up and smell the coffee,” because undercover officers were at the “pointy end of the spear.”

The clandestine branch, Mr. Rodriguez was making it clear, would do what it wanted.

While the profile doesn’t offer much new in the story of the torture tapes (though it does provide a more compelling case that Goss couldn’t control Rodriguez than I’ve previously seen), I’m most interested that Rodriguez apparently prevented any accountability for those who conducted the pathetically incompetent kidnapping of Abu Omar.

It would become known inside the Central Intelligence Agency as “the Italian job,” a snide movie reference to the bungling performance of an agency team that snatched a radical Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003 and flew him to Egypt — a case that led to criminal charges in Italy against 26 Americans.

Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director in 2005 when embarrassing news reports about the operation broke, asked the agency’s independent inspector general to start a review of amateurish tradecraft in the case, like operatives staying in five-star hotels and using traceable credit cards and cellphones.

But Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., now the central figure in a controversy over destroyed C.I.A. interrogation tapes, fought back. A blunt-spoken Puerto Rico native and former head of the agency’s Latin America division, he had been selected by Mr. Goss months earlier to head the agency’s troubled clandestine branch. Mr. Rodriguez told his boss that no inspector general review would be necessary — his service would investigate itself.

The incident is significant, first of all, because of the likelihood that the IG report finding the interrogation methods used by the CIA constituted cruel and inhuman treatment–possibly illegal. This incident suggests Rodriguez refused to allow the IG to do its job–oversee and correct problems in the CIA. Which, in turn, increases the already large chance that the IG report is central to the reasons for the destruction of the torture tapes.

But the incident is interesting for another reason. By preventing any real evaluation of the Italian job, Rodriguez may have ensured that those responsible remain in significant positions within the CIA. You might be interested in this news, particularly if you’re in NY:

Milan Spy Boss on Rebound: CIA officer Jeff Castelli, mastermind of the botched February 2003 “extreme rendition” of an al Qaeda operative in Milan that ended in the indictment of 26 Americans, all but one CIA employees, might be on the rebound. According to a reliable intelligence source who demanded anonymity, Castelli was reprimanded by the CIA’s Accountability Board last year for the much-ridiculed caper and dispatched to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. But Castelli is now a candidate to be the CIA’s next station chief in New York — an astounding comeback, especially considering that Italy is planning a trial in absentia of the CIA employees implicated in the kidnapping, perhaps as early as this spring. “Well, they can’t send him overseas,” said the source, “because of the Milan thing.” Italian warrants have been issued for Castelli and the others, who would risk arrest if they tried to enter any European Union country, or many other states.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea for someone who oversaw legendarily bad tradecraft to be chief of a US station?

It’s not clear to what degree Rodriguez is responsible for Castelli still having a job–and in the US! (It sounds like Castelli was not sent to Alabama until 2006, after Michael Hayden took over the CIA.) But it’s certainly the kind of coddling of incompetence and abuse Rodriguez seems to have fostered.

40 replies
    • randiego says:

      Great link Rayne – here’s another from Wired.…..-07/st_cia

      It’s pretty clear what’s been happening, everywhere you look in the Executive Branch. Anyone who has spent time in a large organization knows that the fish rots from the head – if the guys at the top are sending signals that ‘anything goes’ and the only ethical violation is getting caught, then this is the stuff you get.

      People forget that rules, regulations and quaint ideas like oversight are ALWAYS put in place because it’s all happened before, and there was a need to have it there. History repeats itself.

    • Rayne says:

      So what do you think is the end game here?

      Castelli is selected because he’s so bad, because they know they can get away with stuff if he’s overseeing it?

      Or he’s selected because he’s so bad, he’ll miss potential black flag ops under his nose?

      Or he’s going to be put to use as a fall guy?

      None of the options are particularly appetizing.

  1. Ishmael says:

    Heckuva job Jeffy! Is the “Italian Job” indicative of some kind of Regent University-type recruiting at the CIA? Like putting Heritage Institute interns in important reconstruction jobs in Iraq? It’s hard to believe that this kind of incompetence could be prevalent side-by-side with the Valerie Plame-Jane Bonds of the world unless it was deliberate. A cheating spouse knows better than to use his own credit card and stay at a fancy hotel while doing the “undercover” work, how could this happen in the CIA? Of course, the Niger forgeries which didn’t fool anyone except W also surfaced in Italy, so it may be that there was a rogue faction in the CIA operating outside established protocols and procedures.

    • Rayne says:

      You did read along the way that those idiots booked rooms in Italy for double occupancy while ensuring they got their frequent flyer miles, yes?

      Think R.J. Hillhouse quipped that was a likely new source of contracting: providing “spouses” for that double occupancy room…

    • phred says:

      It’s hard to believe that this kind of incompetence could be prevalent side-by-side with the Valerie Plame-Jane Bonds of the world unless it was deliberate.

      Actually this is consistent with what I have heard from a former FBI undercover agent. The FBI has two different divisions one that functions pretty openly essentially doing police work, the other is clandestine. The former agent (who now works for the ACLU) has explained that the very nature of being clandestine results in a lack of accountability when things go awry. Hence, the clandestine side tends to have greater problems with incompetence and what have you, because what they do is hidden from view. The same sort of thing likely affects all clandestine services.

      • Ishmael says:

        I hadn’t considered the fact that the secret nature of dark-ops might encourage sloppiness – but didn’t the CIA used to outsource this type of thing to the Mafia, or assets who didn’t have the status of agents, so it wouldn’t stick to the organization? I thought it wasn’t that easy to get to be a CIA agent, but when I hear of this sort of thing, it reminds me of that famous photo of Elvis being deputized by Nixons – that there are amateurs running covert ops.

        • phred says:

          I don’t think it is an issue of talent or qualifications or even intentions. I think it really comes down to accountability. The more open the agency, the harder it is to hide mistakes, malfeasance, corruption, sloppiness, etc., so there is an incentive to do a good job. But, if no one is looking over your shoulder, then all manner of bad behavior becomes much easier to get away with… In a worst case scenario (which we clearly have) then it’s not a far step to outright lawlessness.

  2. Mary says:

    Castelli in NYC – The fact that DOJ in NY, esp SDNY, has been so willing and helpful when it comes to Executive lawbreaking and crimes probably helps. Who really needs good tradecraft in a place where Americans are disappeared into abuse BY THE DOJ, where DOJ interviews include threats (likely viable threats) of having families “interviewed” by govts like Egypt that routinely torture and rape their citizens, where Canadians are disappeared and then shipped off to Syrian torture – again BY THE DOJ and with impunity, and where, according to Scheuer, some of the “legal underpinnings” of the extraordinary rendition program were crafted.

    It’s the WOT Wild West, where the sherrifs are the biggest criminals – seems a pretty good spot for Castelli. He probably does have some experience and there are mosques and radicals all over and it’s a place where you don’t have to worry about getting it right – you can be a member of the Dept of Justice and arrange for torture openly and with no consequences. What could a CIA guy do that would be worse than what NYC’s DOJ openly embraces?

    I’m not sure what you meant by this though:

    The incident is significant, first of all, because of the likelihood that the IG report finding the interrogation methods used by the CIA constituted cruel and inhuman treatment–possibly illegal.

    Do you mean CIA interrogation of Abu Omar or the Egyptian “interrogation” they sent him off to receive?

  3. Mary says:

    It’s pretty interesting that the NYT story indicates the only time Rodriguez caught flack in the CIA was when he tried to stop a beating. Also that, with no background in Islamic terrorist groups or the Muslim world, Rodriguez was the pick after 9/11 to head the counterterrorism center. I wonder, too, from the descriptions if it was Rodriguez’s deputy who was the one who gave the go ahead to disappear and torture el-Masri.

    On the destruction of the tapes – I think you have to look back at DOJ again. There’s no way they didn’t know about them, especially after the investigations done for Comey’s Padilla presser, and they have known about the orders for production and preservatin in all kinds of cases from numerous judges. No one has ever produced one DOJ directive to CIA to preserve and protect. What does that tell you?

    Back on the “Abu Omar” abduction, I’m going to throw in two things that are, IMO, much worse than fancy restaurants and phone calls. The first was that the CIA involved the US military and the US military base in Italy in their Torture Conventions violations. Those bases operate by cooperation, and once you start using them as an operations platform for violations of local, domestic and international law and involve the military personnel in those actions, that’s a grave line to cross. Second was the fact that Robert Lady got so spooked that he allowed his computers to be taken. The hotels, etc. were bad – but really, all the CIA operations involving the “ghost planes” had some of the same failings. To hand off a computer and enmesh an air force base, though, are worse than stupid.

    Still, NYC should be a good fit for Castelli. He can get DOJ to handle the kidnaps and abuse of suspects and shipments to torture and issue opinions to cleanse it all. Heaven – meet Match Made In.

    • Rayne says:

      The first was that the CIA involved the US military and the US military base in Italy in their Torture Conventions violations. Those bases operate by cooperation, and once you start using them as an operations platform for violations of local, domestic and international law and involve the military personnel in those actions, that’s a grave line to cross.

      I don’t believe they found this to be such a big impediment. Under Berlusconi, who’d complain?

      And if you read “Ghost Plane”, you know that the CIA manipulated the notion of custody to the extreme. Let’s assume that a friendly foreign country was involved, had what would have been deemed “legal custody” of the detainee in question, even thought the CIA provided the rendition services and the U.S. Military provided the facilities. I haven’t made it all the way through this book yet, don’t know if author Stephen Grey lays out the specific manipulation of custody in Abu Omar’s case — but we do know from his text that Abu Omar was flown on privately owned jet that was contracted to CIA. Did they claim he was a “guest” on the plane? Was he “in custody” of Eqyptian intel from the time he was picked up and until he was rendered to Egypt? (Happened just so with two Eqyptians “expelled” by Sweden and rendered to Cairo…)

  4. FrankProbst says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea for someone who oversaw legendarily bad tradecraft to be chief of a US station?

    The only way it could get worse is if they put his office right across the street from the Italian embassy.

  5. selise says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea for someone who oversaw legendarily bad tradecraft to be chief of a US station?

    the only thing worse would be for someone who oversaw legendarily good tradecraft in the service of kidnapping and torture to be chief of a US station.

  6. NCDem says:

    Mr. Goss was not the first C.I.A. director to discover that operatives who were trained to destabilize foreign governments could sometimes put those same skills to work inside the agency.

    Jose Rodriguez was directly responsible for FAA records of planes used by the CIA for renditions or other trade uses. In April, 2005 CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned with days after a CIA owned DC9 went down in Mexico with 5.5 tons of neatly packed cocaine. Once the FAA finally released records on the plane, it was traced back to his steps through some “sloppy tradecraft”.

    A second plane, a Gulfstream II, went down in late September, 2007 with 3.7 tons of cocaine. Again, the paperwork on this plane handled by Rodriguez immediately before he retired, led back to Mel Martinez also with deep connections in Florida like Porter Goss. Both planes were connected to the same area where pilots were trained in flight schools prior to 9/11. Martinez had been using this same plane when available for RNC purposes. Martinez abruptly resigned from head of RNC within 3 weeks of this plane going down.

    Many readers here may conclude that this is only “sloppy tradecraft”. I don’t think so. Please note that Congressman Reyes suddenly showed more backbone recently with President Bush on FISA than anytime in his history in Congress. Congressman Reyes and Jose Rodriguez are close.
    I’ll leave you with one final quote from the NYT’s article.

    “He would always say, ‘I’m not going to let my people get nailed for something they were ordered to do,’ ” said Robert Richer, Mr. Rodriguez’s deputy in the clandestine branch until late 2005, who recalls many conversations with his boss about the tapes.

    If Jose Rodriguez thought this about his own operatives in NCS/CIA then I’m sure he thinks the same about what he was told to accomplish. He will not fall on his sword for this administration. It is all the more reason that DOJ and Mukasey must be forced to question Rodriguez on the record and in public. Cheney and Addington will attempt to make sure this never happens.

  7. Mary says:

    OT – Horton has a First Amendment piece up at his blog
    that includes a reference to a recent ruling in the Feiger case, this one about preventing the airing of the ad with Bush having a tantrum.

    Back on January 8, I reported on an effort by a federal prosecutor in Michigan to ban an advertisement by attorney Geoffrey Fieger which contained a long clip of a speech given by President Bush in which he attacked Fieger. The prosecutor issued subpoenas to a media agency and sought a gag order to block the advertisement. The ostensible ground for this act of suppression of commercial speech was that the ad reflected Bush’s bias against Fieger–which it clearly did–and that the citizens of Michigan must be prohibited from knowing about the president’s public temper tantrum. The prosecution clearly thinks that the linkage of their case with the Decider’s temper will prejudice a Michigan jury against them. They argue that the advertisement constitutes an extrajudicial statement by Fieger about their case. The ad, which can be viewed here, contain no statements about their case whatsoever, only a demonstration of George W. Bush’s pique.

    Horton links to the court’s opinion gagging the airing of the President’s tantrum.

    This, plus the ACLU case cert denial – bad week for the first amendment.

    I have to admit, these days whenever I see something like this (from the Mich Magistrate’s order citing gov’s request):

    The Government moves for a protective order preventing all parties to this litigation from making extrajudicial statements about this case that a reasonable person would believe could be publicly disseminated. (Docket no. 145).

    I think back to the Padilla presser.

    Interesting how no bully pulpit for the President and DOJ is ever restricted – by bounds of law, justice or ethics.

  8. Hugh says:

    Rodriguez reminds me of the blowhard character Myerson played by Ned Beatty in the movie Hopscotch. He didn’t know what he was doing and survived despite his incompetence. Indeed with Rodriguez in charge the clandestine service had a “pointy head in its rear.”

  9. JohnJ says:

    Clandestine operations have really gone down hill. One of my neighbors (suburban DC) was a real spook. The problem was that we all knew that from his wife coming to neighborhood parties (no wienies, we were OUTSIDE the beltway). That fact, along with the fact that she was entertaining herself while he was gone with a high school buddy of mine, got him taken off active duty.

    Come on…..traceable credit cards to 4 star hotels? I go with the christian law school graduates explanation.

  10. Mary says:

    13 – I have read Ghost Plane. Grey has also done some pieces for the Blotter, keeps a website and is on UK radio/television programs fairly often.

    He goes into the Italian job some in the book and he has done some follow up pieces since A/O has been released to house arrest too.

    Whether Berlusconi was involved or not (and we do know the HEAD of the secret service was involved and is facing charges and is invoking a states secrets type of defense that implies Berlusconi involvemetn) I still say it was a horrible idea to involve an American air base located on friendly foreign soil in a direct contravention of treaty obligations. IMO, that was beyond incredibly stupid. Berlusconi won’t be around forever, politics change, cia agents can be moved around, but air bases stay right there.

    I haven’t made it all the way through this book yet, don’t know if author Stephen Grey lays out the specific manipulation of custody in Abu Omar’s case

    There wasn’t really any there. The CIA just flat out kidnapped him off the street. They did have some SISMI arranged lookouts, who swear they had nothing to do with the actual grab, just keeping an eye out. And the word given to the lower level Italians who helped with the periphery was that the Americans were just going to have a covert chat with A/O to try to convince him to become an informant.

    The “extraordinary” part of the extraordinary rendition efforts for those like A/O is that there was no nationality or outstanding arrest warrants issue (as there was with the Egytpians taken from Sweden) for the country of destination.

    So A/O to Egypt, Arar to Syria – those were flat out torture conspiracies – no colorable claim of true rendition.

  11. spoonful says:

    Interesting take on the motivation for destruction of the tapes – the coincidental timing of the possible IG report and the tape destruction is likely no coincidence.

  12. Mary says:

    The guy who got hit the hardest on all of this (Lady – who has had to forego his retirement villa in Italy) is the guy who thought it was a bad idea and tried to stop it, only to be overruled by his station chief in Rome.…..nworld-hed

    An Italian intelligence official’s recollection that the CIA’s Lady opposed the abduction from the start is perhaps the most startling disclosure buried in the mountains of evidence gathered by Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Armando Spataro and his investigators.

    Spataro’s evidence indicates that Lady was overruled by his immediate boss, the chief of the CIA’s station in Rome. The evidence also suggests that the Rome chief, then considered a rising star within the agency, overstated the threat posed by Abu Omar in obtaining approval for the abduction from CIA higher-ups in Washington.

    Oh well, whats a little kidnap and torture conspiracy based on overblown rhetoric using keystone kops tactics to disappear someone into horroland?

    And I thought that there had been an IG investigation – this is probably why I thought that:

    A veteran senior CIA official who has been interviewed about the Abu Omar rendition by the CIA’s independent Office of Inspector General said an internal review of what went wrong in Milan had generated tension within the agency.

    emph added

    And from that same story, but a more encompassing statement – via a “veteran senior CIA officer” (whatever that means)

    “We never got any good [intelligence] product from a rendition.”

    And maybe it was more than just a pushy rising star in Rome who was behind the farce in Italy

    … Lady made no secret of his opinion that the rendition of Abu Omar was a bad idea. Among his other concerns, D’Ambrosio said, Lady worried that the CIA would anger DIGOS by abducting the target of one of its major investigations without its knowledge, damaging both a productive surveillance and an excellent working relationship.

    D’Ambrosio told the prosecutors that when he agreed with Lady that the Abu Omar rendition made no sense, Lady spread his arms in despair, explaining that the operation had support at the highest CIA levels.

    emph added

    By which he apparently meant Kappes. Maybe not a big surprise that Kappes, who apparently had a lot of positive capital with Bush for handling the Libya negotiations for Bush on the QT and without letting Cheney know, found himself unhappily at the center of a farce in Italy and an investigation and decided to hike, reconnoiter from outside the agency, then cruise back in with Hayden the sockpuppet?

    I do like how the article says Kappes refused to be interviewed, but then has an anonymous source who says that if HE had only known of Lady’s objections, HE would have stopped the operation. Hmm – so he was either someone higher up than Kappes at the time, or Kappes making sure his unofficial statement got stenography.

    Kind of sad to read about D’Ambrosio getting kicked out of the Milan office for following law and protocol. Anyway – this is one of the more interesting pieces in US press on the kidnapping, at least IMO.

  13. Mary says:

    Here’s an Oct 07 Mag piece by Grey, Lost in the Rendition Machine with a chunk on A/O (as well as others).

    It includes the reference to a US military plane from the Italian base being used to take him on his torture rendition to a German base. All in contravention of treaties.

    His journey to Egypt was surreal. He was put aboard a US air force jet and flown to Ramstein, Germany. There, he was put on a Gulfstream jet hired from one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Its logo was painted on the tail of the plane, although covered over for the CIA mission. Throughout the 13-hour journey no one said a word to him or explained what was happening. He remembered the sound of classical music in the cabin. The CIA agents had wrapped him in thick masking tape like a mummy, which made his face bleed when it was ripped off later in Cairo. He had been so tightly wrapped up that his body went into shock: “I felt the soul was coming out of my body.” The CIA team quickly responded by putting on an oxygen mask and inserted a tube in his mouth to give him water. He vomited.

    This mimics how the Egyptians turned over a suspect to the US, pre-911, and together with so many other things show how fast the CIA and Bush embraced Egyptian style tactics.

  14. Mary says:

    Another interesting piece, with details on the A/O kidnapping, and also on the politicking going on in Italy between Berlusconi (who is trying for a big comeback) and Prodi (out) using planted stories with Judy-Miller-like journalists.

    … the police raided 11 rooms on the sixth floor of a building on the Via Nazionale in central Rome, opposite the main police station, and took numerous files and eight computers away. A series of ‘dodgy’ dossiers had been produced here, aimed at covering up illegal actions committed by the secret services or influencing political power-games. …

    Documents found in the office recorded payments to a journalist who had been employed as a propagandist. Renato Farina … had started to plant bogus stories about the Abu Omar case. In June 2006, he published an extraordinary scoop. Romano Prodi – the piece claimed – had authorised rendition flights when he was president of the European Commission. It was a great story, and a total invention. …

    The secret services had also asked Farina to find out how the magistrates were getting on with the Omar case and told him to try to lay yet another false trail. … On 22 May 2006, he went to Spataro’s office, deep inside the Milan law courts. But Spataro was fully aware of the journalist’s double role …

    After the raid on Pompa’s office Farina confessed, but claimed that he had been ‘defending the interests of the West’ … His police interrogation filled two hundred pages. He received numerous messages of support from other journalists and politicians, some of whom saw him as a victim of the ‘left-wing judiciary’. Berlusconi agreed, calling him a ‘guerrilla fighter for liberty’ and praising his ‘useful sacrifice’. The Italian journalists’ guild banned him for a year, ‘for having betrayed the journalistic profession’ – calls for him to be expelled for life (which in Italy means five years) weren’t heeded. In December, the same magistrates he had pretended to interview charged him – along with his paymaster, Pio Pompa – with favoreggiamento (as an accessory, not to the kidnap, but the cover-up). Farina admitted his part in the conspiracy and was given a six-month suspended sentence (which was converted into a €6840 fine). He continues to write for a daily newspaper.

    Renato – meet Judy. Judy, meet Renato.

    Now if there were just a Spataro around somewhere.

  15. Nell says:

    @Mary #19 and #20, thanks so much for this pointer to the Chicago Tribune story on the Abu Omar kidnaping. I’d heard nothing of it.

    @NCDem #11: Could you provide links to coverage of the plane crashes? Thanks in advance.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rodriguez seems unmanageable, but then Porter Goss was not sent to the CIA to manage it. He was sent to demoralize and destabilize it.

    The purpose was to ensure that the CIA would kowtow to Cheney, Addington and their para-intelligence agency at the DoD. And so that no one would feel uppity enough to tell the truth in the face of White House lies and an official policy that treated the destruction of CIA careers as “unavoidable collateral damage” in routine domestic political turf wars.

    The bantamweight Goss succeeded. He lopped heads and created a leadership vacuum at the top. The inexperienced but vengeful Hill staffers he brought with him alienated top staff into quitting. Which led those remaining into keeping their heads down rather than default on their mortgages, their student loans and their promises to pay for their childrens’ educations.

    In that regard, Rodriguez was fighting incompetence with incompetence. He was also lucky that unaccountable, rules free covert ops were essential to Cheney’s attempt to establish an unaccountable, rules free presidency. Pity about protecting the country by having a competent intelligence network. Oh, well, shit happens.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The original “Italian Job” at least benefited from Michael Caine’s acting. Neither Porter Goss nor Mr. Rodriguez are quite up to that standard. They were acting in the real world, for real stakes. Caine made a film about English hoods running around in supercharged Minis while attempting to steal a literal pot of gold. It, too, ended in a cliff hanger.

  18. bmaz says:

    Bless their pointy little heads spears. These guys hardly seem competent enough to have actually destroyed the tapes; they probably fucked up and left them intermixed with the porn collection on the Duke-Stir. Or maybe that nine fingered dude has them…

  19. Leen says:

    Kissenger, Castilli many of our American elite are unable to go into certain countries in fear of being arrested or put on trial?

  20. Mary says:

    22 – as you probably picked up, the Rome station chief would appear to be Castelli. BTW – Roberto Castelli was Berlusconi’s Justice minister. I’m sure Castelli is a pretty common name, but that was “small world isn’t it”.

    Looks like I left the link off for 21 –

  21. Leen says:

    Audio interview with Gareth porter about Iran…..porter-21/

    Michael Scheuer

    Osama’s Indispensable Ally: US Foreign Policy
    Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit and author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq, discusses the politicians’ willful ignorance about al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s one indispensable ally: American foreign policy and the danger of future attacks.…..scheuer-3/

  22. LabDancer says:

    Ach – – day jobs means one constantly risks looking like Evil Parallel Univerese. Anyway, I’ve come bearing a timeline with footnotes in place of an apple. All highlighting added by me.

    * * * * * *

    I am SO tired of all this horse crap about Goss being against the tapes being destroyed.

    In my book he who walks the Bushie walk and talks the Bushie talk is presumptively Bushie – and with Goss that is only the more so.

    The operative quote in the NYT piece, from source Rob Richer of then-boss JRod:

    “He would always say: I’m not going to let my people get nailed for something they were ordered to do”

    Why would that necessarily apply only to waterbushing?

    Couldn’t it mean something like this?

    ‘Okay Porter — you say Addington wants it — and he says Cheney wants it — and you say Gonzales wants it — and he says Bush wants it — and we all know why.

    As you of all gringos know only too well — it was those morons in the White House who figured they knew better than us in the first place about this torture bullshit.

    So we understand each other – we all know you carry water for Bush. And I get it: no dirt on Gorgeous George or on Bushie BFFs like Negroponte and McLaughlin and Pavitt.

    Say Porter — I hear you were in a frat house at Yale with Bush’s uncle — that so?

    I know what you are: a snake — and I know if this ever leaks I can count on you throwing your children under the bus to avoid heat — and I don’t rank that high.

    I’m gonna man-up here — but on terms.

    First — I want back-up. Get me one of those handy “legal” opinions Cheney’s dickheads are always cranking out. If they’re too chickenshit — send me a couple of disposable in house legal beagles to say to my face what I’m supposed to have “heard”.

    Next — you just have to remember five simple Rules:

    Rule #1: With me, the buck starts here and stops here. If you get to where you feel you have to throw somebody under a bus, then throw me.

    Rule #2: My thing is loyalty, and that goes first to those who work under and with me

    Rule #3: As for you and your bunch, that goes with the job. Just don’t push Rule #2.

    Rule #4: You don’t ever want to learn how good a record I’m keeping.

    Rule #5: Since this is just you and me, if this ever gets out, we’ll both know it was you.

    Next — I want all my people safe. When the time comes – and I’ll decide when that is – I want a nice send-off, maybe a sit down dinner, maybe a speech from someone with some clout – because I will want everyone in the Agency and all my friends and family on the outside to know I left on my own terms. No medals – I don’t go for that Tenet bullshit.

    One more thing: You know that flag that was flying over the Capital on 9/11? I want it. I figure I’m a damn sight more likely to honor it than any of you.

    This would fit into the story of his being disciplined while in the Latin America division, as in:

    ‘Listen up amigos: That fellow there who you are kicking the crap out of happens to be a life long friend of mine. I really don’t give a damn what you think you can do about it, or who you think you can complain to, this stops now, or else I start bustin’ heads.’

    Both JRod and Richer worked under Cofer Black at the time Black apparently led with gusto the robusto interrogation experimentation on the deeply schizophrenic Zubaydah, per the narrative in the first part of Ron Suskind’s “One PerCent Doctrine”.

    [By the way — Suskind reports verbatim-ish conversations involving both Black and Richer, but JRod doesn’t even make it into the index. That fact, plus the Priest & Pincus piece in WaPo below, plus this semi-irregular Labdeduction, might suggest Richer a more likely source for WaPo than Robert Grenier.]

    Despite the technical ‘accountability’, as far as I can tell JRod was in COVERT ops, not SPECIAL ops. The same would apply to Richer as well, at least while he worked under JRod.

    That would distinguish them from those like: Black, and Pavitt, and the involvement of those two in carrying out the Bush-Cheney ‘24’ ticking time bomb fantasy crapola they pushed the very pushable Tenet into conveying down the chain of command.

    Now, I feel that this part may be unfair to Goss and Black [presuming that is possible], but when I look at the pictures and profiles of Black, I can’t help but see the sleek weasel-like lines of a Karl Rove – – whereas I don’t see anything approaching such a thing in any of the pictures or profiles of Grenier, or Richer, or, to the point, JRod.

    [Wikipedia doesn’t have any pre-CIA detail on Robert Grenier, but IMO you don’t run pre-invasion covert ops without a very large pair.]

    Nor do I see that in the profiles of Stephen Kappes, or Michael Sulick, or perhaps not even in the soft pink hue that surrounds James Pavitt [though Pavitt’s more defensibly truly academic status suggests his Army background may have been somewhat less than fully combative; intell for example].

    With the exception of Goss and Black [& perhaps Pavitt], all these guys seem to bleed Marines, or some other military force – that is, stand-up, life-on-the-line types.

    Whereas the pre-CIA c.v.’s of Goss and Black look to me, in the case of Black particularly, a lot more like the half-assed chickenhawk academish c.v. of Cheney – or, in the case of Goss particularly, the spoiled rotten, unjustifiably arrogant, semi-academish sneering pretense of President Waterbush.

    [Pause to List Some Prominent Yale Alumni:

    [1] the 11th CIA Director [Grade B; ranked highly] & 41st POTUS in order [Grade D, marginal];

    [2] the 43rd POTUS [Grade F; ranked 45th per Bill Maher, quite defensibly IMO]; and

    [3] the 20th CIA Director [Grade D].

    [In an effort to avoid being accused of plagiarism here, I am referring to the “LabDancer Efficacy/Transparency Grading CurveTM”, co-relevant with the LabDancer Did/Did No Harm RankingsTM, as applied to the complete data base of CIA directors from the redoubtable Sidney Souers, on through the current office holder, Mike “Pinky” Hayden, both available on request. Order now and as an extra added bonus, you will learn the secret of why President Jimmy Carter bears a huge portion of responsibility for the Iraq War, all the abuses of the Bush/Cheney Administration, the global climate crisis, the current sorry state of the national economy, and the demise of the Rule of Law.]

    POINT: It has been my experience that sane, truly tough guys do not feel the need to torture to prove that they are tough.

    Mary @ 19 wrote: “from that same story, but a more encompassing statement – via a “veteran senior CIA officer” (whatever that means: “We never got any good [intelligence] product from a rendition.”

    That too could fit such a view of JRod.

    earlofhuntingdon @ 23 despaired of the impression of JRod’s “incompetence”. I do not argue that, particularly since if my speculation is correct, then JRod’s story features quite a bit of tribalism, which is among the competence-strangling bains of Washington DC — tho I do wonder on what his lordship’s judgment is based.

    Penultimately [before the timeline as promised], note this oddity: When Richer decides enough is enough, before he resigns, he goes to explain hiimself to: Stephen Hadley.

    The same Stephen Hadley who, after President Waterbush first said: “We don’t torture” said [I paraphrase]: Well, if we did, it would only be because we felt we had too; and torture isn’t a necessarily such a bad thing anyway, really.

    As all roads led to Rome in days of yore, in the BCA everything tracks to Hadley.

    In support of the above, I offer up this modest timeline [footnote #1:

    ? CIA Rob Richer appointed Chief, DO for Middle East & South Asia

    96 CIA JRod appointed DO station chief, Bogota, Columbia

    98June CIA Cofer Black appointed Deputy Chief, Latin America division

    99June Black appointed Director Counterterrorist Centre [CTC]

    99June? JRod appointed Chief, Latin America division

    01 CIA Robert Grenier as station chief for Islamabad heads up
    covert ops preparatory to Afghanistan invasion

    02May JRod appointed Director CTC

    02“late”Black leaves for State, becomes “roving ambassador
    for counterterrorism”

    04Nov16 JRod appointed Deputy Director DO

    Richer appointed Associate DDO

    Grenier appointed Director CTC

    04Nov Black resigns

    05“early” Black appointed Vice Chair Blackwater USA

    05Aug26 The Guardian reports on the CIA OIG report [footnote #2]

    05Sept Richer takes early retirement [after only 10 months in this job!]
    [footnote #3]

    05Oct13 BBC reports establishment of National Clandestine Service
    [foothote #4]

    05Nov2 Dana Priest reports in WaPo on Bush-Cheney “black sites”
    [footnote #5]

    05NovJ Rod instructs Bangkok station chief to destroy tapes

    05? Richer joins Blackwater USA as VP Intell

    06Feb6 Goss fires Grenier putatively for leaking presumably to
    Priest or Pincus [footnote #6]

    06Apr21 Goss fires CIA Mary McCarthy putatively for leaking –
    allegedly to Priest [footnote #7]

    07Jan Total Intelligence Solutions commences [“CIA knock-off for rent”]
    [footnote #8]

    Richer names himself CEO

    Black appointed Chairman [to pick off Blackwater contracts
    [per speculation by RJ Hillhouse: see footnote #8]

    07Aug16 JRod retirement in El Paso [HIC Chair Reyes as MC]
    [footnote #9]

    FOOTNOTES TO TIMELINE [See footnote #1]:

    1 not to be confused with emptywheel timelinetm *
    * Beware cheap imitations.



    WaPo sends in the A-Team: Priest & Pincus. Excerpts:

    …telling colleagues that he lacked confidence in the
    agency’s leadership …
    …one of CIA Director Porter J. Goss’s key personnel
    [re: reasons for departure] Other government officials
    disagreed … and said Richer’s departure involved disputes
    over “operational issues” that they would not specify,
    and a clash of personalities between Richer, a former
    Marine, and Goss and his top aides. … [snip]
    During Friday’s meeting, Richer said he and his boss,
    the deputy director of operations — who cannot be named
    because he remains undercover [well, JRod] — had been
    frustrated by Goss and his staff in their efforts to
    implement certain measures, sources said. Richer
    subsequently met with national security adviser
    Stephen J. Hadley to explain his decision.



    The director of the new agency, whose identity will remain
    secret and is simply known as “Jose”, will report directly
    to the head of the CIA, Porter Goss. …

    This is another positive step in building an intelligence
    community that is more unified, co-ordinated and effective,”
    National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said. …

    Mr Goss said the new service represents “an expression
    of confidence in the CIA” from President George Bush
    and Mr Negroponte.



    “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
    “waterboarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.

    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.


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


    8…..sonnel.php Excerpt:

    Enrique “Ric” Prado: Chief Operating Officer …
    twenty-four year veteran and former senior executive officer …
    in the … DO … twelve years as an operations officer and
    senior operations manager in the … CTC …
    last overt job in the CIA was as … DC/CTC …
    under … Cofer Black … awarded George Bush Medal
    for Excellence in Counterterrorism

    9 http://www.thespywhobilledme.c….._lose.html


    “also joining Total Intel is Enrique “Ric” Prado, whose
    last overt Agency job was Chief of Operations for the CTC
    and whose earlier jobs at the Agency were in the
    paramilitary Special Operations Group. We can only guess
    as to what his last “covert” job was, but it’s not too
    hard to guess that it probably involved counterterrorism
    and paramilitary activities, his specialties. (Needless
    to say, his picture does not adorn Total Intel’s
    new website.) Given the addition of Mr. Prado,
    it is well within the realm of possibilities that
    Total Intel also plans on developing its own
    paramilitary capacities, which would directly
    compete with Blackwater. But the smart money
    is Mr. Prado is there because he was friends
    with his former CTC boss and the intent is
    to use his other talents as a case officer
    with a depth of overseas contacts.”

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