Torture Telltale Timing

Kudos to McClatchy to choose this week to interview Glenn Fine–and to induce him to get unusually chatty. Marisa Taylor reports that DOD is stalling the release of a DOJ IG report on the FBI’s role in torture.

 The release of a report on the FBI’s role in the interrogations of prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq has been delayed for months because the Pentagon is reviewing how much of it should remain classified, according to the Justice Department’s watchdog.

Glenn Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general, told McClatchy that his office has pressed the Defense Department to finish its review, but officials there haven’t completed the process "in a timely fashion."

"Why that happened, I don’t know," Fine said in an interview this week.

Tell me, Marisa Taylor, did Fine have a smirk on his face when he said that? I couldn’t imagine why DOD would be stalling the release of this report!

Though Fine suggests there has been some recent movement in the classification review process.

Fine said the Pentagon now appears to be moving on his request.

"My sense is they are working hard on it now, and I believe we’re going to reach a resolution one way or another in the not-too-distant future," he said. [my emphasis]

Tell me, Glenn Fine, did this sudden responsiveness on the part of the DOD start in the last three weeks or so. You know, since the time when William Haynes left DOD in an awfully big hurry? I couldn’t help but notice that Daniel Dell’Orto got around to declassifying the Torture Memo just weeks (if not days) after Haynes left DOD. I wonder if he has been equally busy clearing Fine’s report for publication.

35 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    And the corollary question of exactly how much was really appropriate to consider for classification in the first place. To wit, genuine classification questions and issues or not?

  2. allan says:

    The underlying philosophy of this Administration is


  3. JimWhite says:

    Speaking of timing, how about the leaks on high level meetings to authorize torture and the juicy quotes from Ashcroft and Rice? Is someone (Powell, maybe?) upset with the increased chatter about Rice as McCain’s running mate?

  4. NorCalJon says:

    And I refuse to thank bmaz anymore for patiently answering my Yoo bar affiliations here — after all, it is not like I could have received all answers to my questions by catching up on my reading over at the ‘Lake!

  5. perris says:

    the fact that “principles sanctioned torture” is being “leaked” tells us they are setting the stage for all to be ok and in keeping with common practice

    • manys says:

      the fact that “principles sanctioned torture” is being “leaked” tells us they are setting the stage for all to be ok and in keeping with common practice

      It tells me no such thing. Total non-sequitur.

  6. mamayaga says:

    There’s a diary up at Dkos saying that a memo authorizing torture has surfaced with Bush’s signature. It’s not clear to me if this is a missing link we’ve all been anticipating.

  7. skdadl says:

    I’m trying to grasp the structure: how can the DoD be slowing down an investigation of the FBI, especially by someone in the DoJ? (Do we have any C&W song writers here? Thinking about these things gets me all syncopated.)

    I’m interested partly because other nations had agencies fooling around at Guantanamo, among them our CSIS, and our Supremes are just now pondering whether they should hear evidence in Khadr’s case on that basis.

    So why would Fine be constrained by the DoD? Honest question: I am truly ignorant of most of these things.

  8. randiego says:

    You want torture? Try watching the Padres bat with runners in scoring position. 0-20 in the last 2 games with the Giants, 1-0 and 3-2 walk-off losses against the NL’s worst team.

    Bmaz, you must be lovin’ the hot start by the D-Backs…

  9. JThomason says:

    In point of fact the Adminstration thinks they have all legal opposition to torture wrapped up and in the trick bag because of the provisons of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 allowing for the securing of evidence gained through the use of torture or coercion before the passage of the Detainee Treatment Act of December 30, 2005, and for the use of coercion after that date.

  10. kspena says:

    OT – might be interesting…Michael Ware interviewing Gen. Petraeus. The set piece will be shown tonight on Anderson 360/CNN.

  11. Mary says:

    Just to revisit a story out since 2006 on GITMO: part 1

    The Defense Department’s Criminal Investigation Task Force arrives at GITMO and things are not well. They warn of the commission of possible war crimes and that information is not reliable.

    The investigators say their warnings began almost from the moment their agents got involved at the Guantanamo prison camp, in January 2002.

    Since EW likes timelines, guess what else was happening in Jan 2002?

    January 25, 2002 Alberto Gonzales is telling the President that determining the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees:

    Substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441).

    emph added

    Back to the msnbc story on GITMO and the DoD’s CITF:

    When they could not prevent the harsh interrogations and humiliation of detainees at Guantanamo, they say, they tried in 2003 to stop the spread of those tactics to Iraq, where abuses at Abu Ghraib prison triggered worldwide outrage with the publishing of graphic photos in April 2004.

    Yeah – but golly, wasn’t that supposed to be “unrelated” per the ABC story?

    The CITF mentions al-Qahtani, the “20th hijacker” but the story doesn’t mention the concurrent case of Slahi, which caused Lt. Col. Couch to refuse to prosecute Slahi, despite Couch’s own very strong feelings and losses on 9/11.

    A week later, Col. Couch put his position in writing and asked that his concerns be raised with the Pentagon’s general counsel, William J. Haynes II. The legal adviser to the military commissions office, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, says: “Mr. Haynes was not informed of the issues raised by Lt. Col. Couch nor did he expect to be told about all internal operations within the Office of Military Commissions.”

    Looks like Haynes did a better job than Ashcroft at that “eww, don’t actually TELL me about the tortures I’m authorizing” thing.

    And despite that original response to CITF on al-Qahtani, guess who’s going to be in one of the show trial?

    The CITF tried to address the cases of abuse going on by:

    1. Going to Maj Gens Dunlavey and Miller. Miller questioned their patriotism, Dunlavey wouldn’t listen.


    Refused to participate in interrogations they felt were abusive; reported any signs of criminal acts by the intelligence interrogators; blocked an FBI plan to move al-Qahtani to another country where he could be tortured; and threatened to remove their investigators from Guantanamo entirely if they were forced to watch abusive interrogations

    emph added

    3. Sent their warnings up command to “the Pentagon’s general counsel, William J. Haynes III, and to officials in Rumsfeld’s office.”

    Somehow, all the “detainee abuse” investigations that supposedly spun out from Abu Ghraib managed to miss them (CITF) and they were “surprised” to find that no one with any of the investigations ever contacted any of them.

    Fallon, in the msnbc story, also makes it clear that while Ashcroft and Co. are giving broad legal blessings to abuse of “terrorists”, for many of the people at GITMO no one even knew their names, much less that they were some “high intelligence value” persona.

    They didn’t have names for many of the detainees. It often wasn’t clear what country they were from. … Most weren’t picked up by U.S. forces, but were handed over by bounty hunters … They were transferred with scant records,

    Fallon said two detainees were suspected in a rocket attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The evidence against them was that they were found wearing dark olive green jackets similar to the one worn by the attacker. “I’ve been to Kabul,” he said. “That’s the only color jacket I’ve seen.”

    Possibly the saddest thing of all, DOJ and Congrss have let things go so far astray, that all the firm statements made about not trying men because of the torture inflicted on them in the interrogation process, has now all gone out the door.

    From part II to the msnbc piece:

    military prosecutors told them not to worry about making a criminal case against al-Qahtani, the suspected “20th hijacker” of Sept. 11, because what had been done to him would prevent him from ever being put on trial

    to “clean teams” who can wave a magic wand. And we have domestic cases where masked interrogators and coerced statements have become allowable “evidence” and where a US citizen can be disappeared into years of abuse without there ever, ever, ever, being any effect on a subsequent trial or on the torturers and those who lied about the torture. Break the mind, then have a trial.

    The msnbc piece, btw, goes on to detail how sure the CITF crew were that Miller’s trip to Iraq would end up taking his abuse authorizations with him and their efforts to stop it, as well as the allegation’s that Miller urged: “that interrogators adopt ‘emerging strategic interrogation strategies and techniques” being used at Guantanamo.’”

    And about that FBI plan to send al-Qahtani off for torture? “A later FBI legal analysis warned that even discussing such a plan, known as “rendition,” could be a crime, conspiracy to commit torture.”

    Be interesting to know where that analysis came from and what it said and when. Wainstein, who has been defending the illegal wiretap progam, was either counsel or COS to Mueller through much of this operative timeline. You have to think that Mueller might have disucssed the torture issues with him some.

    Fallon and his boss, Mallow begin raising the issues “almost weekly” in August/Sept 2002, with lawyers from Hayne’s office. So on Sept. 25, 2002, in swoops the torture delegation we’ve heard about, including:

    Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now attorney general; David S. Addington, legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, now his chief of staff; Timothy E. Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel; William Haynes III, the Pentagon general counsel; Larry Thompson, then deputy attorney general; Christopher A. Wray, the principal associate deputy attorney general, [then] head of Criminal Division at the Justice Department[Luttig’s old law clerk, who went on to King & Spaulding in 2005 or 6]; and John Yoo, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counse

    And on that Beaver argument – that a higher authority can authorize abuse? Fallon refused to let his CITF people even WATCH abusive interrogations and fought briefly (before winning the argument) with his supervisor over this:

    “You’re talking illegal acts here,” Fallon said. “The secretary of defense can’t change the law. One of the things that we told all our personnel was the fact that during Nuremberg, Nazi war criminals were actually tried for acts that were perpetrated by them under orders of their superiors.”

    All fwiw, but a bit more context.

  12. Hmmm says:

    I’m starting to wonder whether Fallon left not because he was forced to, but because some other force is now able to contain Team W and Team Dick.

  13. Mary says:

    19 Because apparently the DOD is taking the position that they are the agency that “classified” a lot of the info about GITMO, etc. and so things like FBI agents complaining about something (not classified at DOJ) is “classified” if DOD says that what FBI agents were talking about it is stuff that is classified at DOD. Also, some of the info is probably in the DoD records (like the FBI plan to ship to Egypt or Jordan for torture) that the IG needs for back up in the report. At least, those are my guesses.

  14. radiofreewill says:

    LS at 20 – I seems to me that, at the very least, that Memo where Bush says Geneva Common Article 3 does not apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees And that We will continue to treat them humanely, anyway…that Memo plus confirmation that Bush was in on the unPrincipals Meetings that didn’t just ‘green-light’ Waterboarding – they personally ordered it – those two together, imvho, equal an Impeachment Inquiry.

    “We don’t have to treat the “unlawful combatants” humanely, but we will because we are the United States of America…now Waterboard him!”

  15. JThomason says:

    On the timing issue and watching today’s threads (i.e bootstrapping my sense of context at the feet of the masters) it seems to me that all the recent activity with regard to the positioning of the principals and players in issues around the authorization of torture pertains to the imminent possibility of an opinion adverse to the administration in Boumediene which could have a tremendous public and political fallout and by the tone of the analysis at the time of the argument in Dec. seems to be a distinct possibility.

    • randiego says:

      The revelations are coming fast and furious – but

      a tremendous public and political fallout

      if that hasn’t happened yet, it ain’t happenin’.

      • JThomason says:

        Wishful thinking maybe but I would like to think what the SC has given the SC can take away.

  16. radiofreewill says:

    In reviewing the No Geneva Memo, I have to say it seems to have been written, eerily, in Bush’s familiar speech cadence, and not like Addington’s puppeted works.

    This Memo looks more like it was actually written by a ’scared to death’ Gonzo – nobody else would touch it! It’s arguably a written justification/rationalization for a War Crime, or War Crimes – already committed or duly intended to be carried out.

    The fact that Bush signed this Memo himself might say a lot about whom he was willing to ‘over-rule’ to get his way.

    There might be other Bush-signed Memos? Stacks of Declarations of “Non-Combatant Status” signed by Bush on people like Kurnaz (sp), whom he may have been ‘too proud’ to recognize the innocence of (not to mention because it also would mean that Kurnaz would be ‘free’ to charge the Bush Administration with the War Crime of Waterboarding him,) and whom was left in Hell for a few more years, iirc.

    There may have been more than a few aspects of Bush’s Torture Program that nobody was willing to touch, and for whom Bush ‘had’ to put his authorizations in writing. We know the CIA, for instance, made *somebody* sign for the freight on every enhanced interrogation tactic they used on each detainee, so who knows what other ‘nuanced and complex’ issues required Smirky’s Magic “Deciderer” Wand?

    With Memos like the No Geneva Memo out there – and the possiblity of others – Bush has every reason to resist Process and Oversight, out of self-interest to hide what already looks like more than sufficient probable cause for a Grand Jury Indictment on any number of Serious Charges.

    Wasn’t it for just this sort of *impasse* with the Executive Branch that the Constitution envisioned a tool for prying out the whole Truth, so The People could see for themselves and decide – What is the Right Thing to do in the face of these Serious Charges of Executive Misconduct?

  17. radiofreewill says:

    Had the Libby Obstruction-Wall collapsed, Cheney was ready to fall on his sword for Bush’s vicious outing of Valerie Plame Wilson, but he can’t smother this one…

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