Zelikow’s Destroyed Memos

Last night, as I was beginning my catalog of the interrogation reports used in the 9/11 Report, the former Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission was on Rachel Maddow, elaborating on his Foreign Policy article where he revealed how the Bush Administration destroyed his objections to the May 2005 Bradbury Memos.

Anonymous Liberal had a very good take on Zelikow’s story (which basically matches what bmaz said to me via email). The destruction of Zelikow’s memos is clear evidence of criminality.

That’s an incredibly damning allegation. The only reason to collect and destroy all copies of this memo would be in order to preserve, for as many Bush administration officials as possible, a potential defense against later prosecution. If the extent of these activities ever became public and investigations were commenced, the White House wanted to be able to argue that everyone involved relied in good faith on the advice of counsel. That defense would be severely undermined if it could be shown that these officials were warned, by a lawyer of Zelikow’s caliber and rank within the administration, that the legal arguments they were relying on were poorly reasoned and unlikely to be sustained by a court.

This was pure CYA. And it was being done for reasons beyond the potential for political fallout. It was done in order to preserve the illusion of good faith reliance on OLC advice in the event of future criminal prosecutions. This is yet another reason why a special prosecutor needs to be appointed. While I agree with the decision by Eric Holder not to pursue prosecutions against CIA officials who relied in good faith on OLC advice (and did not exceed the scope of that advice), it is becoming increasingly clear that there were people (likely high ranking intelligence officials and people in the White House) who were explicitly warned (likely repeatedly) of the shoddy and highly dubious nature of the OLC’s advice. These folks should not be entitled to any presumption of good faith reliance. They need to be investigated. The attempt to scrub Zelikow’s memo from the record looks to me like an act of criminal conspiracy intended to preserve plausible deniability about the illegal nature of various government activities.

UPDATE: The expunging of Zelikow’s memo from the record is not the only thing the Bush administration has done to hinder the possibility of prosecution. Remember that all the tapes of these interrogations were destroyed or went missing at around the same time. I doubt that’s a coincidence.

Zelikow doesn’t make AL’s point as explicitly as AL does: he says only that they’ll have to explain why they destroyed those memos and doesn’t think about the maintenance of plausible deniability for the torturers. But it’s a good question.

So who’s going to ask that question?

159 replies
  1. Mary says:

    I agree with AL and bmaz on the destruction, but on the good faith issue, let’s not lose sight of the fact that even with Zelikow’s memo destroyed, there were also memos from Will Taft and from each of the top JAGs for the various divisions of the military which were all also to greater or lesser degrees saying, “the legal arguments they were relying on were poorly reasoned and unlikely to be sustained by a court”

    But destroying the memos adds those affirmative acts that are nice for prosecution.

    Even without that destruction, though, how would Rice claim absolution from the info from her own advisor unless she thought he’d lie?

    • oldnslow says:

      Even without that destruction, though, how would Rice claim absolution from the info from her own advisor unless she thought he’d lie?

      For me, this raises the biggest issue. Criminal conspiracy. A war crimes charge may not be applicable for all the people involved in this but by knowingly agreeing to parrticipate in the charade of legality aren’t they open to a federal conspiracy charge?

      Thanks Empty.

    • bobschacht says:

      Even without that destruction, though, how would Rice claim absolution from the info from her own advisor unless she thought he’d lie?

      Because she was for it before she was against it?

      I think Zelikow surfaces now for his own selfish CYA reasons. He’s not a boat-rocker, really. He wrote his piece, kept a copy, but did not make any further waves. Now that there’s a new administration in charge, he’s burnished his credentials to make himself look better to the current crowd in power.

      But Zelikow has a long history in Mythmaking 101 and may even have a graduate degree in the subject. I saw the interview on Rachel Maddow, and I was a bit freaked out by his demeanor. He and Condi are birds of a feather. They both can be cynical and ruthless.

      Bob in HI

  2. Stephen says:

    This is Condi’s boy wonder. Do you think she has anything to do with the timing of his interview?

    • mpower1952 says:

      That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. He covered for her on the 911 commission too. If they never find a copy of his memo, I’d bet money it never existed.

      • Hmmm says:

        If they never find a copy of his memo, I’d bet money it never existed.

        I don’t know whether you could be right about the memo never existing, but this whole gambit certainly indicates that Zelikow (and maybe Condi too) must now believe there’s a strong change of prosecutions actually happening. I wouldn’t have bet on that a week ago. The cavalcade of memos and reports has changed everything.

        (Oh man, what will this week’s Friday News Dump look like?)

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I don’t know whether you could be right about the memo never existing, but this whole gambit certainly indicates that Zelikow (and maybe Condi too) must now believe there’s a strong change of prosecutions actually happening. I wouldn’t have bet on that a week ago. The cavalcade of memos and reports has changed everything.

          Couple more data points.

          Who was on ‘Morning Joe’ yesterday in a conversation in which torture was raised? Mr. Andrew Card, no doubt there to try and ‘control’ the conversation. (Yes, the Andrew Card of the Infamous Hospital Visit.)

          And the narrative has changed over the week; it’s now becoming more heated, more wingnuts are going on teevee, and it’s becoming more shrill. Looks to me as if they’re really starting to sweat.

          But FWIW, I think it’s bloody stupid if the ‘left’ thinks that torture is somehow approved by all ‘wingnuts’ or evangelicals. I don’t believe for an instant that’s accurate, as it does not align with my personal observations.

          • Hmmm says:

            But FWIW, I think it’s bloody stupid if the ‘left’ thinks that torture is somehow approved by all ‘wingnuts’ or evangelicals. I don’t believe for an instant that’s accurate, as it does not align with my personal observations.

            Sure, but this will flush out whoever has exposure (or whoever’s patrons have exposure) and thinks they have a shot at influencing the prevailing mood.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Then I saw several situations where people were completely unqualified and did shoddy work — then a union guy showed up and was well worth the money he charged. I’ve now seen this repeatedly.

              Oh, I hope that you are calling this one correctly ;-)))

          • bobschacht says:

            But FWIW, I think it’s bloody stupid if the ‘left’ thinks that torture is somehow approved by all ‘wingnuts’ or evangelicals. I don’t believe for an instant that’s accurate, as it does not align with my personal observations.

            I agree. It won’t happen right away, but I think over the next 3 months we will see the Republican party split into a torture and an anti-torture faction. The Torture faction will ultimately lose out and become the Woolly Mammoths of the party. The new Republican party will be built around the anti-torture pro-Constitution folks.

            Bob in HI

        • valletta says:

          Totally agree.
          Zelikow is everywhere, including “progressive” shows, when he was nowhere to be seen after the 9/11 Commission Report came out.
          He and Condi are playing the jury.

          • jayt says:

            He and Condi are playing the jury.

            So what the hell am I missing? Zelikow says he prepared a memo for Condi; it was disappeared by *someone*, and this works to Rice’s benefit how?

            Is there an implication that Z’s memo disappeared *before* it got to Condi?

            Seems to me just as plausible that she saw it – and as it later dawned upon *someone* and disappeared, the person who has the greatest interest in seeing it disappear is Condi Rice.

            • valletta says:

              Well, both Zelikow and Condi know (most of) what has happened over the last 8 years….so….
              coming out now (not last week, not last month, not last year, not when he was director of the whitewash 9/11 Commission report) Zelikow is throwing out the CYA memo that he wrote (knowing that if things turned sour down the road he’d be covered) while also knowing that the memo would be destroyed by the torturers. He’s playing both sides against the middle. This is not a new game for him.

              • jayt says:

                oh, I see quite easily the self-serving nature of the disclosure for Zelikow. But to me, it looks more like his throwing Condi (and everyone else, for that matter) under the bus than it seems to be some kind of extended defense of/for Dr. Rice.

                • valletta says:

                  Oh, yes, I see it that way as well. But she has been shown in the latest reports to eschew written memos and rely on “verbal approvals”. Which leads to Oscar-winning performances like she had in front of Congress’ initial inquiries into 9/11 when she pretended not to know what the PDB was titled on August 6th until she spewed the exact title after pressed by Richard (?) Ben Veniste….oh, the good ole days….

            • cinnamonape says:

              If he prepared it for Condi…his immediate superior…then she f*king got it, believe you me! If “they” told him to destroy all copies, then “they” is either Condi…or other people he (or she) sent it to.

              It sure doesn’t sound as if the Counselor at the State Department would be following demands from underlings. That demand would have had to have gone through Condi. And it would have likely have to come from her Superior. Not from a co-equal.

              One of two guesses?

          • bmaz says:

            You are right about the suddenly ubiquitous Zelikow. That said, if you are interested in prosecuting the senior Bushies, there are a couple of different nuggets in the new Zelikow spiel that are simply invaluable. He should be encouraged to come forth with more, not demeaned because he has come up with these now.

            • valletta says:

              The major poker game is about to begin…

              And Obama is better than any player I know….

            • CTuttle says:

              The more info the better… BG(ret.) Karpinski’s interview with Rachel certainly pointed out the straight line to the top in whom was responsible…

              About f*cking time, I might add…

              • Funnydiva2002 says:

                Karpinski was with Keith tonight.
                Hope she gets as much air-time as Zelikow, she was very, very powerful.

                • Leen says:

                  Have been following everything Karpinski has been able to say ever since she became the fall gal. She has been very pissed and rightfully so. Really respect her verbal efforts to stand up for the people doing time for those at the top of the torture chain
                  Karpinski “more than a few bad apples”

                  Have you seen this one “Gitmo” Karpinksi is in it

                  Bob @ 9. I thought Zellikow was part of the group who ignored Richard Clarke’s warnings before 9/11. So am I understanding this that he wanted to create/find/cherry pick intelligence to connect Iraq with Al Queda but was not willing to go as far as redefining/rewriting the torture laws?

                  In the clip above why does Zellkow say that they (Bush administration) were not “obstructing justice” by trying to destroy all his memos?

                  What do you lawyer folk call destroying evidence?

                  #### I thought Feith visited Gitmo.

                  “Douglas Feith had a long-standing intellectual interest in Geneva, and for many years had opposed legal protections for terrorists under international law,” Sands wrote in his book. “He referred me to an article he had written in 1985, in The National Interest, setting out his basic view. Geneva provided incentives to play by the rules; those who chose not to follow the rules, he argued, shouldn’t be allowed to rely on them, or else the whole Geneva structure would collapse. The only way to protect Geneva, in other words, was sometimes to limit its scope. To uphold Geneva’s protections, you might have to cast them aside.”

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I think that’s right. As a key player in prior investigations, as a member of Rice’s network and E.D. for the Iraq Study Group, he should not be assumed to have no personal or “network” agenda. Unlike the MSM’s reporters, we can hold more than two ideas in our heads at once; some can even be contradictory. Let’s keep all the disclosures coming.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Thanks for making this point. And IMHO it’s all the more important coming from you.

              … Did I miss your explanation as to the details…?

      • cinnamonape says:

        Hunt down the hard drive he wrote it on! Check to print files, and the mail files. Any record of anyone referring to it in his mail? Any evidence emails were deleted in a particular time frame? He should have to give names of those he sent it to, who he retrieved copies from, who ordered the destruction, the rationale he gave for retrieving the copies. Was a classification standard placed on this memo. Any record of that?

        And check the email files of those whom he sent it to. Do they refer to “Zeliko9wski’s problem memo” in their communications? Are there erased emails here as well? Erased hard drives? Doing that destroys tons of records required for the Presidential Records Act.

        Serious stuff here!

  3. klynn says:

    Heck, I think they were warned by Goldsmith and Comey through their multiple objections to the OLC memos, were they not?

    Wasn’t Goldsmith forced out because of his objections to the OLC memos and Bush policies?

  4. phred says:

    It’s also useful to remember that this is the group of yahoos who endlessly crowed about their permanent majority. Who was going to prosecute in their politically manipulated DoJ? Even now Rethugs are demanding that there be no prosecutions. They take it for granted that the DoJ is now a political wing of the WH, rather than an independent law enforcement agency. I wonder whether the Rethugs will be correct in that assessment…

    • Petrocelli says:

      “I wonder whether the Rethugs will be correct in that assessment…”Phred

      Not if we stick together.

      • phred says:

        It also doesn’t hurt that they appear to be falling apart ; )

        Hence, all the shrieking from certain quarters and what will almost certainly turn into digit-dislocating levels of finger-pointing as the perps all try to scapegoat each other…

        • Petrocelli says:

          Someone has to tell Darth that his M.O. does not work any more.

          That’s the problem with criminals … they stick to the same gameplan too long.

    • perris says:

      the “republicans” weren’t so bad as the corrupting force of power

      the democrats WILL become as corrupt unless we keep vigil

      as far as I’m concerned the only thing we can do to help is get public financing of elections

      franken will be all over that when he’s senator

      • phred says:

        Ah sorry about the confusion perris, I have always reserved the term Rethugs as a subset of Republicans. Trust me, I am no fan of Democrats. And I think there is plenty of evidence that a subset of Democrats is every bit as corrupt as the Rethugs.

        I was specifically referring to first the Rove machine (permanent majority) and then McCain, Graham, and Jo-Lie’s letter and the ranting by Rethugs to Sec. Clinton today, and the general hissy fit emanating from Rethug quarters over possible prosecutions.

        I agree with you completely that only public funding will curtail the hopeless morass of graft and corruption that is our pay-to-play federal government.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Will we not need new Congressional authorization for an independent counsel?

    If not, since the independent counsel statute lapsed in 1999, because of Republican abuse, how would the special prosecutor’s authority, responsibility, and so on, be established? In the same manner as Patrick Fitzgerald?

    Is that adequate for an investigation of this importance? Because the prisoners in the dock would not just potentially be Bush and Cheney; they would include the Republican Party.

    • bobschacht says:

      IANAL, but here goes:

      Congress let the Special Counsel statute expire in 1999 because Ken Starr showed excessive zeal and there was no way to reign him in. The current provision, that gave us Patrick Fitzgerald, gives oversight to the DOJ, which normally would be appropriate, because the DOJ is supposed to be independent. But we all know what happened to that for the past 8 years.

      I think what is needed is to renew the old Archie Cox/Leon Jaworski/Ken Starr model, but with more effective judicial oversight.

      Y’know, IIRC a judge can appoint a special prosecutor, whenever they think one is needed. Its been done, and recently, too. So, for example, Judge Walker could decide a special prosecutor is needed.

      Say, for example, Walker rules in his trio of current cases, that by golly, The Program was in fact illegal. He could, I believe, decide to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate this apparent crime and bring forward any appropriate indictments.

      Lotsa things could happen. But IANAL.

      Bob in HI

  6. MadDog says:

    In keeping with the subject of this post, I give you this from a document (Sed Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes: The CIA’s Office of General Counsel?) written by A. John Radsan, Associate Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law (here in the St. Paul) who was a Justice Department prosecutor from 1991 until 1997, and Assistant General Counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency from 2002 until 2004 (My Bold):

    …Kenneth J. Levit, a former Special Counsel to the DCI, wrote an article that discusses CIA lawyers’ role in aggressive interrogations since September 11.45 Because Levit had more experience in the Director’s suite than in the OGC trenches, however, he tends to concentrate on the work of CIA lawyers in the two-part approval process for covert action – approval first within the Agency and second at the National Security Council. He displays great confidence in that process: “If the President ordered actions that would violate the law, lawyers throughout the Agency, as well as those at the National Security Council, would be aware of it, and they would have the chance to voice strong concerns or to object outright…

    …Moreover, in a footnote he observes, “The CIA’s culture of fidelity to the law would at least guarantee that such problematic claims [the President directing the CIA to engage in torture] would be thoroughly vetted.”47 In Levit’s mind, the CIA is not a rogue elephant.

    Not everyone shares Levit’s faith. This article takes a position somewhere
    between the believers and the atheists, and seeks to provide enough facts and hunches for agnostics to decide for themselves…

    If Levit is correct (Hah!), there should be more than a few CIA Office of General Counsel (OGC) memos similar to Zelikow’s, but I doubt it. The Rizzos of the world are more likely to have populated the CIA’s OGC than folks like a Zelikow.

    Much more in John Radsan’s article which is 55 pages long.

  7. perris says:

    This was pure CYA. And it was being done for reasons beyond the potential for political fallout.

    I beg to differ, this was pure “team b” and I am pretty certain the professionals not recruited by cheney and his team b were against these methods

    as many some have already gone public telling us

  8. klynn says:

    There is this irt Goldsmith and OLC torture memos:

    ”In his book, Goldsmith recounted his collaboration with Comey, an experienced federal prosecutor, in trying to restore some integrity to the legal advice under which the Bush administration had operated after the 9/11 attacks.

    ”Ever since Comey had come on board in December of 2003, he had been my most powerful ally ” in correcting the flawed interrogation opinions,” Goldsmith wrote. ”He always acted with a sensitivity to upholding the integrity of the Justice Department.”

    As Goldsmith struck down key Yoo-Bybee opinions, he and Comey encountered angry resistance and even ridicule from Bush insiders, particularly David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Goldsmith described one White House meeting at which Addington pulled out a 3-by-5-inch card listing the OLC opinions that Goldsmith had withdrawn.

    ”Since you’ve withdrawn so many legal opinions that the President and others have been relying on,”- Addington said with sarcasm in his voice, ”we need you to go through all of OLC’s opinions and let us know which ones you will stand by.”

  9. TheraP says:

    “The Dog that didn’t bark” is what they want us to believe.

    (any dogs that barked… please come forward!)

  10. scribe says:

    It needs be noted that a careful listen to Zelikow yields at least one other thing: he states the destroyers of memos did not get all the copies.

    Also, Zelikow makes quite clear – in response to Maddow repeatedly asking “why didn’t you quit in protest?” – that there was an ongoing fight within the Administration (of which he was aware if not a part) which, doubtless, yielded additional paper. And, he is insistent on letting the institutions do their proper work, which he interprets as staying in office and fighting for the anti-torture position, “working it from the inside”.

    • klynn says:

      Someone suggested earlier today, when I asked why Comey stayed on almost a year after Goldsmith left, that Comey was a part of that internal anti-torture fight.

      • emptywheel says:

        Remember that Comey was there–and supportive–when Goldsmith withdrew the Bybee memo, and then left in August 2005 (after announcing his resignation earlier) after the Bradbury memos got written. He said the US would be ashamed when the memos were released.

        • klynn says:

          Oh definitely. My hope is that he did something smart in that year he stayed behind…something that will address the illegal acts.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Having at one time, for a period of five years, ’stayed inside’ in order to make sure that I could get my hands on documents and keep an ear to the ground, I have a lot of respect for Zelikow — assuming he’s being sincere.

      Totally agree with EW and those who suspect that Condi Rice is in the background somewhere. And why not? Cheney had Bolton spying on her, although Maddow didn’t ask Zelikow whether he ever interacted with Bolton.

      (FWIW: I ended up with several file cabinets of documents that later assisted in a legal case.)

  11. bgrothus says:

    Tortured logic, and why we need it:

    As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don’t know
    We don’t know.

    Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

  12. Mary says:

    So what needs to happen is for Congress to start getting some under oath responses asap to whether or not certain people received copies. The respondents then decide if they want to lie and risk showing on distribution when there are later copies, or opt for believing there are no copies, or tell the truth.

    Yep, given how fast Congress got Karl Rove in to testify under oath, that’ll happen.

    Another option may well be a Judge in one of the proceedings involving turnover of docs (esp the ACLU proceeding) asking for some certificaions under oath and putting that back to Holder.

  13. bobschacht says:

    there’s a strong change of prosecutions actually happening. I wouldn’t have bet on that a week ago. The cavalcade of memos and reports has changed everything.

    Gosh, and Gee Whillikers, how many days has Obama been in office? Last I knew it was 92 and counting. 92, 92, um, wasn’t there something about the first 100 days? and MSNBC has a special news segment now, with NYT banners, on Obama’s first 100 days! Golly, what a coincidence! Ya think?

    Maybe we’ll finally get some change we can believe in.
    (he said, hopefully)

    Bob in HI

  14. Mary says:

    23 – if he was really fighting, he’d have papered something. He was there through Aug 2005 and that’s how you fight the fight. It’s why Taft did what he did, it’s why Mora used his “signing out a memo” threat. If you really feel strongly about the opposing view, then to protect your client you paper the file.

    So it seems to come back to – are there things other than Zelikow’s memo that are “missing”

    If so, if there are memos that should be appearing on Vaughn indexes but aren’t there – then you go back to the duty to correct the record. Even if they can’t describe them, if there was this ongoing war and it was papered, lawyers who know about it should be correcting the record to the tribunals, even if they have to do it very ambiguously as Levin did in his testimony.

    • klynn says:

      That is why I asked the question irt his staying. Now, if you read his farewell address, I see the possibility of something “perhaps.”

  15. bgrothus says:

    It is hard to predict how the “good Germans” syndrome will play out in the USA. The Repugs are working hard to support the Bush regime. They have their talking points (sent by Rove on Twitter), and they will stick to them.

    There are a lot of people who still think that torture is/was necessary to keep the USA “safe” and others who think that telling the story is going to make us less safe.

    Hard to say how many of us are going to be “good Americans.” Clearly, some of the “good Americans” are Democrats in the legislative branch.

  16. Hmmm says:

    Side question – Would destruction of the memo copies received by anyone in the WH be an offense as such? Pres. Records Act etc.?

  17. Mary says:

    19 – a Judge can only appoint a special prosecutor relating to violations of rules of evidence and the like that occur in his courtroom, not so much general malfeasance.

    It’s not a big dif, but the statute Starr was appointed under was Independent counsel as opposed to special prosecutor, but I don’t always use the “correct” terminology on that either. However, this part of what you said is a little off imo,
    “The current provision, that gave us Patrick Fitzgerald,”

    Really, there aren’t regulations per se or a statutory authority other than general power to delegate within the dept that created the Fitzgerald slot.

    While he was dubbed “Special Counsel” he wasn’t really appointed under the special counsel regulations that contemplate an “outside” special counsel. The regs for an outside special counsel would have allowed for the assumption of a broader mandate by the appointee (imo) and while they don’t offer anything like the protections of the Independent Counsel statute, they do offer up some protections that Fitzgerald didn’t have (and that I’ve always wished someone would have asked about).

    An outside special counsel can still, like an inhouse DOJ lawyer with a delegation, be overriden by the AG (or acting AG for the particular matter) and can have their delegation pulled back. However, if the outside Special Counsel and AG have a tiff over things like charging decisions and the AG overrules the outside Special Counsel, Congress has to be notified that the AG did step in and overrule the special counsel. Then its up to Congress to ignore, try to rip into the AG, etc. Plus there are provisions for info to be provided to Congress under the outside special counsel regs IIRC.

    An inhouse delegation, which is what Fitzgerald received, doesn’t have any mechanism for the inhouse lawyer, if overruled by the acting AG on the matter, to say anything or for Congress to be advised.

    • Justinajustice says:

      An inhouse delegation, which is what Fitzgerald received, doesn’t have any mechanism for the inhouse lawyer, if overruled by the acting AG on the matter, to say anything or for Congress to be advised.

      Do we know for sure that this is precisely what happened to Fitzgerald’s indictment of Rove? Gonzales could have over-ruled Fitzgerald, placing that decision under some special top secret classification that prevented Fitzgerald or anyone else from ever discussing it.

      The letter that Fitz sent to Rove’s attorney informing him that the charges would not be brought was never revealed to the public. I have always suspected that Jason Leopold was on the right track about the Rove indictment but Gonzales derailed the train before it officially arrived at the Grand Jury station.

      If something like that was not the case, then perhaps our faith in Fitzgerald was grossly mis-placed.

      • bmaz says:

        There is not one shred of evidence to support that; and much that militates in the opposite direction. Are you seriously asserting that Leopold is more credible than Fitzgerald?? Yikes.

        • Justinajustice says:

          If Gonzales over-ruled Fitzgerald, under top secret classification, that would not necessarily undermine Fitzgerald’s credibility, but could prevent him from making any public statements about it.

      • newtonusr says:

        Jason Leopold is a completely useless black hole of truthiness™, and Marc Ash was just stupid enough to staff him, sucking TruthOut’s credibility into the void.

  18. Mary says:

    29 – It doesn’t align with mine either. But I do think (and I think Wilkerson makes this point as well) that the more the discussion is about KSM, the lesser the reaction will be from those on the right who are not basically supporters of torture. On a purist level, maybe there shouldn’t be (or maybe even on a purist level there should be), but having the conversation on the still living KSM who is a pretty acknowledged terrorist in almost all books, means that it is ez to ignore. So I think all the discussion of waterboarding KSM in part play into the hands of those who want all this forgotten.

    I really don’t think you get the ball rolling until you make the discussion about a much broader range, from the torture “confessions” of al-libi that have not only been proven wrong but have resulted directly in so much death and destruction (Evangelists understand the undercurrent of that example); to the disappearance of so many – especially those who could show that intel was manipulated; to the kidnap to torture of Arar (resulting from what looks like the kind of out of control spiral of torture accusations that the Salem witch trials spawned); to the “oops, wrong name” torture of el-Masri and how long his disappearance continued after everyone knew they shouldn’t have him (and that as long as he was a detainee, he was eligible for Bradbury’s treatment); tot he disappearance of children and family members; to the threats against family members; to the frozen body of a detainee, dumped in an unmarked grave; to a bipolar London chef; to a kid being sent to get vegetables for the Taliban who ends up at GITMO as an alleged financing guru because of a misinterpretation of tomato and money; to … well, to culminate in Donald Vance.

    What was his protection supposed to be, when he was taken into custody? Have you noticed any AG pursuing a crimnal charge on his behalf?

    I think the longer the discussions stalls around KSM (although it has to go there for the purposes of most of the memos) the less likely it is that the Republicans and Evangelists who are not repulsive on the issues of torture will manage to just pull a Scarlett and not think about it.

    • Hmmm says:

      Yes. I was thinking this morning that a catalog of the deaths would be the next phase of this. Even many torture defenders won’t be able to stand up for all that.

      Did you see Rohrbacher’s demeanor with Hillary C. today? Chastened. Still a nasty, smug, superior ass, but nonetheless downright chastened.

    • tjbs says:

      Wrong Mary,
      The tipping point is where are his children 7&9 at the time they were last heard from? Gut check time for Moms & Dads
      Were they locked in cages covered with bugs to find out where dad was?
      Where are they now or ROLL THE WATER TORTURE TAPES.( you know like Great porno someone has a copy), Whatever the CIA liars say.

      • bmaz says:

        Um, Mary has been screaming about the kids from the start. She is the wrong one to be calling wrong on that issue. Way off base there.

  19. Styve says:

    Wonder how many more “suicides” we will see over the next days/weeks, like the poor Freddie Mac CFO.

  20. Mary says:

    33 – what MD has at 37. It’s an older expression from pre-email times, but we still use it for things like emails as well. Memos, letters, circulated statements of position, protests in writing to other existing docs, emails, etc. But they have to be “final” for a memo to count as papering the file. That’s the significanc of Mora’s threat to “sign it out” (which was appparently the procedure there). Lots of firms use an initialling procedure to evidence that the memo is finalized and deemed “issued” by the “from” issuer. It can vary.

  21. klynn says:

    Mary @38

    …well, to culminate in Donald Vance.

    What was his protection supposed to be, when he was taken into custody? Have you noticed any AG pursuing a crimnal charge on his behalf?

    I have brought up Vance here several times. Perhaps Vance will become a louder spokesperson after the release of these memos.

  22. bmaz says:

    Crap, didn’t even see this thread until now. Here is something I said somewhere else. And, yes, I think the torture tape destruction is integral in this little scenario. It exponentially reinforces the criminal intent:

    Zelikow is most certainly on an unholy rehabilitation tour, both for Rice and to preempt finger pointing at him. That said, there is simply golden information and statements emanating from Zelikow. For instance the bit about writing a dissenting memo and properly lodging it only to have it not only blown off, but actively collected up and destroyed because it “was inconvenient” is absolutely stunning information. That is dead nuts hard evidence of a criminal intent. Of the kind that wins trials for the prosecution. Some of the other statements in his FP article, that he has been reinforcing in his appearances, are also golden nuggets.

    This quote, from a freaking insider like Zelikow, is killer:

    Which is that it was a program. Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed “interrogation plans” to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

    This is all simply devastating stuff that a prosecutor could form their theory of the case around. I have no candle for Zelikow, and he is many days and dollars short, and self serving to boot, but this is killer stuff. And, examined properly and under oath, I think it only expands.

    The Zelikow material should also be read in conjunction with
    “>this article from the NYT
    that hit their site last night. Couple those, and the tapes destruction and it is case closed.

    • Ishmael says:

      Case closed for obstruction/conspiracy? Or are you saying that the destruction of the tapes and memo is corroborative evidence of mens rea for a torture charge? Or both?

      On the topic of “slam dunks”, Scott Horton posts that the release of the torture memos make convictions in European courts “child’s play”, if such prosecutions proceed.


      • bmaz says:

        Really it probably wasn’t a specific legal sense I meant that in. What I was referring to is the issue of criminality. The one consistent thread behind the Bushco narrative has been “aw shucks, we were acting in good faith, just pertectin the country” and “there was no substantive dissent”. Well this just blows that all to hell when read in conjunction with the other facts that have come out recently, most notably the last 72 hours. There was substantive dissent, and they attempted to scour the record of it because of the implications. That is a criminal mind at work.

        • Ishmael says:

          Agreed – especially the NYT article where they were extracting “confessions” under torture. I guess you only need obsequious lawyers to tell you what “shocks the conscience” when you don’t have one. Sociopaths!

        • klynn says:

          IANAL…But does that not lead to the legal domino effect that the one act showing criminal intent reveals the hand of intent irt the memos and policy development overall? And perhaps the why of Iraq? The why of the Plame outing?

        • TheraP says:

          Think of how bush never appeared in public in any way that could allow dissent. Think of all the self-censorship in the press. Think of the spying and the blackmailing. Think of how the media in effect blacked-out coverage of anti-war protests. That and so much more. Heck, no surprise that they destroyed evidence, if they could, of internal dissent!

          • bmaz says:

            Please. This is simply miniscule compared to that guy in the White House that denied having an extramarital affair. Now that was important!

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Let’s also remember that until about 2004, and even more so once the Libby case was set for trial, no one questioned Dick Cheney and kept their job in the federal government.

            Retribution for Shrub was about emotional payback, like a hood playing mailbox baseball. Cheney was more methodical. For him, payback was about destroying his opponents from the ground up. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame are among the rare public examples of it. His complex regime of torture was merely a more robust expression of the game he played throughout the federal bureaucracy.

          • behindthefall says:

            The NYT had a cover photo of a flag-draped coffin being offloaded from a cargo plane this week. From Afghanistan, not Iraq, but still, prior to this, pictorial proof that U.S. soldiers are dying has been rare. So I thought that that indicated new rules on access and coverage. Maybe?

    • watercarrier4diogenes says:

      Hmmm, why does this make me think of torture…

      Crap, didn’t even see this thread until now.

      I mean, you know, some sort of Clockwork Orange style ‘eyes wide open’ torture…

      • bmaz says:

        No, I have been pretty busy with outside stuff lately and on my mobile a lot. It is hard to plow though long posts and comments on a tiny iPhone while you are with a bunch of people. So I bug the shit out of Marcy on email…..

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Yes, and what is really striking is my sense that there is a narrative that’s developed over the weekend, and built during the week. Probably instigated by a certain blogger’s revelation of a suspect being waterboarded 183 times, which made a whole lot of us do a verrrrrryyyyyyy serious double-take.

      Then Cheney sunk himself by coming on to pontificate about how ‘unfairly’ Obama was in releasing ‘only some’ memos. But Cheney failed to provide a single fact to back his claims, and as is his modus operandi he implied that it would all be clear if only Obama wasn’t sitting on info. Given Cheney’s credibility, probably not a very smart move, but I digress…

      His supporters (and ‘Morning Joe’) were blathering the first part of the week about how torture had been effective, therefore no one could question deeds done, yadda, yadda. But even Joe seems to be catching on that maybe torture isn’t such a good policy…

      But the past 36 hours or so, we’ve had some key pieces of info: Harman’s NSA news, which prompts the question: “And just who does this woman actually work for…?!”

      Then the reiteration of “183 times” for waterboarding, which doesn’t even make any sense. If anything, it makes one realize that waterboarding couldn’t work — if it takes 183 times, then WTF are they thinking…?

      Then the Karpinski interview today, which is stunning: why is it that Mr Five Deferrments and Mr AWOL were creating memos that sent US soldiers orders that put them in jail for following orders? She’s taking the bull by the horns! (Bless her.)

      Then the news — eloquently explained by Suskind and another Maddow guest (a former interrogator) that the BushCheney procedures were NOT effective for gleaning info, but rather were used to elicit FALSE confessions.

      Then, also today, Shepherd Smith’s obviously instinctive, deeply felt rejection of being smeared by, or associated with, torture. I think we all know how he feels… But I would never have expected his remarks.

      I’d say the horse got out of the barn around 7 pm EST today.
      Let’s see where it goes now…

  23. watercarrier4diogenes says:

    former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the commander of Abu Ghraib when the torture scandal erupted is on Countdown laying the wood on Rumsfeld in no uncertain terms. Well worth viewing the clip later on KO’s website. Though I’m sure it’ll also get FP’d on Crooks & Liars, Daily Kos and many others.

    OT, Marcy, I sponsored a couple of pounds of coffee from that favorite grinder of yours a few min. ago. Enjoy! 8^)

  24. Mary says:

    41 – I didn’t see it, but to give him some due (rohrbacher), which you can’t give to most of the Democrats I can think of, he has actually personally gone to bat on the Uighur matter (and IIRC, he also apologized to Arar, although he said we had to do it, bc, well, we just have to be able to go and torture folks when we get scared or we lose our mojo, or something like that)

    43 – I’m wondering if you can’t even add in Haynes’ performance in front of the Judiciary committee where he tried to pretend that the JAGs had a chance to see the memo before it was issued instead of only as a fait accompli.

    Zelikow does do a nice job of making the “it’s a program, not a one time response to a ticking time bomb, a PROGRAM” issue. I can’t seem to find it these days, but one other thing I remember is that after the Hamdan decision, Negroponte made some kind of comment about how now all the enahnced interrogation will have to stop – as if a) that would be such a bad thing and more importantly b) it were still going on. Why would it still be going on then? How many consecutive “30 days” were they talking about?

    That NYT article is a doozy as far as the knives that are out and the reporters alliances showing. The CIA was “Overwhelmed with reports of potential threats and anguished that the agency had failed to stop the Sept. 11 attacks” while Yoo “was mostly interested in making a case that the president’s wartime powers allowed for the harsh tactics.”

    Still, it’s a pretty wild slugfest.

    Rice makes sure that Ashcroft doesn’t just rely on OLC, “but give his personal assurance that the methods were legal under domestic and international law. He did.”

    Powell – the CIA wants to make sure everyone knows he was briefed and did not object. Rummy too.

    Then there’s the “gang of 4″ briefings (which they fail to note were required to be the gang of 8 but Bushies just ignored that requirement).

    Pelosi is wildly disingenuous saying, yah, I was briefed on all the techniques and that they thought they were legal, but MY STARS that doesn’t mean I thought they were going to USE them – – I mean, the CIA in a time of war was briefing me as an unstatutorily truncated Gang of 4 about things they believed they could legally do to detainees —- as a way to kill time— that’s what we’re supposed to believe? No wonder she has a newfound sense of sisterhood with her friend Jane.

    Goss (who has to be enjoying his chance to shoot Jane and Nancy both in one week) says sure, they were going to use them. Hell, we wanted ‘em to do more!

    Graham has a fit of forgetfulness and Shelby, showing an old dog can learn new tricks, resorts to silence.

    So it looks like Harman and Pelosi are both in some sights for now – I’m trying to give a damn. Nope, none left to give.

    And they make sure McLaughlin gets his share – he is reportedly there doing the hard sell on torture with Tenet and golly, lots of folks thought that “low key and cerebral” McLaughlin sealed the deal.

    And oh yeah, cerebral McLaughlin and brainy Mitchell made it all seem like an intellectual exercise. Obviously, Mitchell and Yoo are the ones with no spinners (kind of understandably – blergh).

    But I think this is the first story I’ve seen that puts in print that Bush was directly briefed on the torture:

    At a series of small-group and individual briefings attended by Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Ms. Rice and Attorney General John Ashcroft, Mr. Tenet and his deputy, John McLaughlin, laid out their case.

    Lots of shots fired in that piece.

    OT – but the Jonathon Fredman of “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong” fame in the CIA briefing to GITMO interrogators — he was Brennan’s counsel, right? In the Counterterrorism office? So the legal pick for Obama’s bigtime advisor, Brennan, was the gigglyguy snickering over using the death of your lab rat GITMO detainee (many of whom the WH had been briefed were innocent) as the milestone of an unsuccessful interrogation?

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah. Pelosi as Valley Girl goes to Congress and Tenet and McLaughlin as Batman and the softer Robin. How charming. Brennen et.al – bleeech.

  25. zhiv says:

    Since I check up on Wheel 10 to 20 times a day and it’s still the greatest spot in the whole blogworld, and even chipped in a little yesterday–really wish it could have been more–why not register and chip in a comment, after a little hiatus? Good job, all you guys, getting a real president elected–deep appreciation. Not exactly having fun yet, but that’s how it goes.

    So the thing about the Zel interview that intrigued me was his initial rationale for not bailing out/resigning, when he said (paraphrase) “you have to realize, Rach, that this was chapter 9 out of 32 chapters. It wasn’t chapter one, and we got to the end in 2006, changed policy, blah blah blah.” I was dying for Maddow to ask, well, we really appreciate your insight into chapter 9, but maybe you can tell us just a little bit more about those first few chapters…

    As the inimitable, fierce, bare-armed MW has established (along with you guys and so many others) most recently, a big part of initial torture (”the 83rd time”) was the attempt to establish the link to Iraq, a rationale for war, etc. So what, in chapter three, say, was Condi doing while Rummy and Wolfie were going nuts and 4th Branch was driving back and forth to Langley? Huh Phil?

    Or a better, easier question, was Phil’s use of “they.” Care to be more specific? Cause we all know Yoo and Bybee is finally getting some attention, and Wolfowitz and Haynes seem to be fleeting appearances, but the only thing the careful-speakers say less than the word “torture” is the name Addington.

    So now that you’re trying to maintain that stoic gaze in front of the TV light, Phil, can you go back to chapter 3 for just a second and talk about “they”? Feel free to leave Condi out of it, if that’s what it takes.

    Again, great work all.

    • Neil says:

      Or a better, easier question, was Phil’s use of “they.” Care to be more specific? Cause we all know Yoo and Bybee is finally getting some attention, and Wolfowitz and Haynes seem to be fleeting appearances, but the only thing the careful-speakers say less than the word “torture” is the name Addington.


  26. Ishmael says:

    Zelikow seems to be relying as well on the old Bushco standby, the “incompetence dodge”, instead of coming out and saying that the intent was to torture and justify it no matter how specious. From the NY Times yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04…..etain.html

    “The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said…. Today… Bush administration officials are finger-pointing. Some blame the C.I.A., while some former agency officials blame the Justice Department or the White House. Philip D. Zelikow, who worked on interrogation issues as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005 and 2006, said the flawed decision-making badly served Mr. Bush and the country.

    “Competent staff work could have quickly canvassed relevant history, insights from the best law enforcement and military interrogators, and lessons from the painful British and Israeli experience,” Mr. Zelikow said. “Especially in a time of great stress, walking into this minefield, the president was entitled to get the most thoughtful and searching analysis our government could muster.”…

    • phred says:

      I thought exactly the same thing when I read it… The old “who could have ever imagined” defense trotted out repeatedly by BushCo. Did you notice the use of the word “fatefully” when describing Tenet’s efforts to try to figure out how to interrogate people? Bullshit. He called them on purpose. And while he may have made lots o’ calls to foreign countries, why in hell didn’t he call the FBI??? ‘Cause he didn’t want to hear what they would have told him.

      Kudos to Mary for reading the whole article (and thanks for the summary by the way) — it made my blood boil so fast I couldn’t finish it. Just thinking about it is sending me around the bend again. The one encouraging bit is these rats are scrambling from their sinking ship and they will likely take each other down as they go…

  27. BayStateLibrul says:

    Not sure if this has been discussed but Rachel Maddow said that
    they can’t find the Z-memo so put in a FOIA request… (Ackerman)

  28. tryggth says:

    In the end I hope the nation gets to a discussion of the meaning of “torture”. Is America willing to accept it as a fine point of law where who has the best lawyer wins?

    We tortured. No ifs ands or buts about it. Or did that school district miss the boat when they didn’t waterboard that girl they thought had prescription drugs?

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In a comment entitled, “No One Could Have Predicted…”, Anonymous Liberal asks these questions:

    The years immediately following 9/11 really were a perfect storm of incompetence, ignorance, and moral degeneracy in the White House. History will not be kind to George Bush and Dick Cheney. How is it possible that a torture regime this detailed and systematic could have been implemented without anyone understanding the history of the techniques being employed? How is it that no one chimed in and said ‘hold on a damn minute’ when this was being discussed? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Nancy Pelosi). How is it that no one recognized that these techniques were likely to lead to misinformation that confirmed what the interrogators already believed? Or did they just not care?


    I go back to my point from comment #71. With full complicity by the MSM, the Bush Administration was untouchable until 2004. It then relaunched its untouchability after its re-election, until the Iraq and torture messes deepened and the Libby trial reminded the world that Cheney was mortal and that bloggers [read, EW and Jane’s team foremost among them] were a force to be reckoned with.

    Cheney & Co., thought they were invincible. Everyone told them so. The shrill, like Paul Krugman, were told by their employers to STFU, or at least not use rude words like, “Liar”, even if true. I hope we never go back there again.

    • Hmmm says:

      How is it possible that a torture regime this detailed and systematic could have been implemented without anyone understanding the history of the techniques being employed? How is it that no one chimed in and said ‘hold on a damn minute’ when this was being discussed? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Nancy Pelosi). How is it that no one recognized that these techniques were likely to lead to misinformation that confirmed what the interrogators already believed? Or did they just not care?

      Because 9/11 caught them with their pants down, and they had to find someone else to blame for it.

      • Justinajustice says:

        Because 9/11 caught them with their pants down, and they had to find someone else to blame for it.

        So, caught with their pants down around their ankles, they just happened to have hundreds of pages of a new “Patriot Act” in their back pocket already to smash, largely un-read, through a dazed, terrified Congress. No, I think that Bush-Cheney were well prepared for a “New Pearl Harbor”. Counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clark, stated that Bush was pushing him to get evidence tying 9-11 to Iraq on 9-12.

  30. CalGeorge says:

    My head is exploding.


    “We have also strongly opposed the overly coercive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that these memos deemed legal.”

    Does he think we are complete, brain-dead, idiots?


    • tryggth says:

      This is a response to trying to “get the goods” on the ‘Iraq-AQ’ ties. He is all “lordy me, I didn’t know they would go this far.”

  31. Blub says:

    I think we need to make a record of AG Holder’s statement today, 4/22/09:

    “We are going to follow the evidence, follow the law and take that where it leads. No one is above the law.”

    ..either to hold this administration to it and remind them of their commitment, or to celebrate it as the day the rule of law was restored to the Justice Dept.

  32. ThingsComeUndone says:

    These investigations need to be on tv witness, evidence everything nothing left out let America judge. The trial itself needs to be like the OJ trial on all networks 24/7.
    the threat of that will cause the GOP to get Bush, Cheney etc to plead guilty without a trial to at least one war crimes violation and 10-20 years before the election.
    I don’t think the deal is worth it but if the GOP also agrees to more Stimulus, No tax cuts, Green Power and no more tea bagging, Rupert is part of the GOP, it might be worth it

  33. Hmmm says:

    Sorry if this is redundant, but this WaPo piece focusing on Condi’s torture approvals while NatSecAdvisor might help explain Zelikow’s timing.

  34. CTuttle says:

    We’re not human beings having a spiritual experience… We’re spiritual beings having a human experience…! Aloha Ya’ll!

    Congrats, Marcy on you’re excellent reporting… As usual…!

    I noticed that Rachel Maddow mentioned that Spencer submitted a FOIA request to State for the Zelikow memo…

  35. valletta says:

    Watch Elizabeth de la Vega on Keith. (I love her!, US v. Bush is an awesome book)
    She’s right….let this story bleed a while before appointing the Special Prosecutor and then all we’d hear is “we can’t comment while this is under investigation”

  36. TheraP says:

    You have to wonder: How many of these criminals are thinking – right about now – to take a waterboard detector test and give some false testimony. To prove they’re innocent, you know… And that it’s not torture (when done in the approved 4 corner method).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Well, those near the criminal wrongdoing ought to be antsy, but they are more able now to speak out. It’s a waterfall effect.

      Whistleblowers are already ready to speak out. But with Obama only in office three months, and with no clear improvements in protecting them (when their motives and the facts they have to report fit the protective statutes), and after eight years of Cheney standing them up against a wall, they are probably still on the fence.

      As bmaz says, let’s encourage them all to speak out. The stables get cleaned one piece of oats, hay, straw and manure at a time. In these stables, I’d say we have a few dead horses, too.

      • TheraP says:

        To me, the sea change just since last Thursday is amazing! It’s been not quite a week. But in spite of all the efforts of the “right”, the focus on “torture works” seems to be barely treading water. And the voices willing to stand up or speak out are getting louder. (At TPM, for example, there was quite a bit of troll activity over the weekend – but it’s falling off… I think there is simply too much turf being taken right and left – and no way for the right to defend all that.)

        I’m pretty proud of our side. Not gonna stop working like the dickens. And we’ve got tons more that has to come out. But it’s an amazing difference in just one week.

        (though likely bmaz will now tell me I’m too hopeful…)

        • bmaz says:

          Well, I don’t know. I think it is still unlikely there are substantial prosecutions. Once you go for one big, or even decent sized, fish there then becomes a situation that there is no justifiable basis for not pursuing the really big ones like inhabited the White House and close environs until last January 20. Going after Cheney and Bush is almost heresy politically (in spite of what we think around here). That is the problem I see.

          Still, the wave of stuff coming out in the last week is impressive. It is getting very difficult for anyone to legitimately refute the essential facts. I have more hope than I used to.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            It looks to me like the daggers are out. And one more ‘tea leaf’ showed up on Maddow’s interview tonight with Ron Suskind. He said that initially the FBI wanted to be involved; then, once they saw the nature of the interrogations, at least one FBI official literally walked out in disgust. Add that to Suskind’s remark that Muller warned FBI agents away from getting involved, and I’m almost afraid to hope that the FBI has been collecting a lot of background info…

            If that were the case, add it to the number of military that Bush and Cheney have pissed on, and pissed off, and it sure is starting to look like a convergence of a Tipping Point of some kind.

  37. reader says:

    Zelikow IS everywhere … even on the evening CBC interview-by-phone show tonight here in Canada. He made it sound like it’s HIS idea all this be investigated. He threw everyone under the bus. Except he didn’t mention Condi. Not. at. all.

    • valletta says:

      Exactly right….and he’s been silent for years. Read “The Commission” by Phillip Shenon. This new Zelikow is in major damage control mode.

      • goldpearl says:

        i have that book.

        now would be a good time for folks to read/re-read it, if for nothing else but it’s great depth of insight into zelikow. he’s right up there w/ the slimiest of them.

        btw – philip shenon, (author of “the commission”), was the nyt reporter assigned to the 9/11 commission.

    • Fern says:

      In the interview with Rachel I thought he made it sound like he and Condi were on a mission to dial back the abuse of detainees.

      • jayt says:

        In the interview with Rachel I thought he made it sound like he and Condi were on a mission to dial back the abuse of detainees.

        He may have been trying to intimate such, but since Dr. Rice is on record precisely nowhere in any such manner, what is left is Zelikow protecting Zelikow.

  38. reader says:

    hey, jayt .. I posted without seeing your similar points about Zelikow’s tour. I agree. It’s a big bus rolling down the street.

  39. goldpearl says:

    here’s something that is gnawing at me. granted, it was a levin led committee that released today’s report, but i can’t help but wonder:

    what were the democrats on the various house & senate committees that were briefed told? (during bush’s reign)

    when were they told?

    what did they do about what they were told?

    why? or why not?

    • valletta says:

      Well, remember Jay Rockefeller’s pathetic memo to himself, that he locked into a safe. Basically a letter stating that he was briefed on something classified that he didn’t understand but he understood that it was CYA move. So he sends a letter to Cheney and keeps a copy, just in case he ends up all CIA Colby-like in the lake.

      • goldpearl says:

        “just in case he ends up all CIA Colby-like in the lake”

        not if that was one of them “man sized” safes

        i guess we have a beter idea now about what may be inside cheney’s.

  40. reader says:

    I remember when The Commission came out, valetta. And the whole sorry mess just died like all the other sorry messes. So, I guess things are dire if Zelikow is up for showing his face far and wide.

    We had Feith on the radio here on Monday night. Instructive, too. He’s very indignant that anyone would dare to ask him if he has any responsibility for any of this. He said he had never been to a detention site or seen detainees or conducted interrogations so he couldn’t possibly have anything to do with any of this. He clearly thinks compartmentalization is the key to success.

    The whole thing is sickening. And as I always say, it’s ALWAYS worse than we imagine. Much much worse.

    • valletta says:


      And remember Hannah Arendt’s book about the Holocaust?
      “The banality of evil” and most appropriate for Doug “the dumbest f*cking guy on the planet” Feith: “desktop murderers”

    • Nell says:

      [Feith] said he had never been to a detention site

      As if that’s a defense!

      He was instrumental in gutting Geneva protections in early 2002, and proudly retold his tricksy maneuvers to do so in Philippe Sands’ The Green Light.

      • Leen says:

        I thought during that hearing which Feith testified that it came out that he had visited Gitmo. (obviously not sure)

  41. CalGeorge says:

    If we cannot prosecute the people who followed orders (the Obama position) and we cannot prosecute the people who formulated the policy (the McCain/Lieberman/Graham position), the message I am getting is that we, the people, have to put up with whatever our government does, no matter how bad it is.

    That’s totally unacceptable.

    • Fern says:

      I don’t know – but I think a lot of people did a lot of things outside the “guidelines” established in the memos. And if I were one of those people, I would consider worrying.

  42. reader says:

    If anthrax shows up in mail for any democrat in a position to do anything about any of this I’m going to get really really freaked.

  43. reader says:

    Part of ew’s work is showing that the legal cover is full of holes. That’s what Clinton’s language today added up to as well: to be safe from prosecutions, you have to have believed you had legal cover and you have to have followed the rules set out in that legal cover to the letter. Marcy has already shown (I believe) that the fruits of torture have been claimed before the legal cover was in place AND that the rules were not followed hardly ever. So the whole thing will fall apart, anyway and a few people might find they are protected, but only a few. If that stands, and I don’t see how it does.

  44. tjbs says:

    It’s been a long day and as I go to bed I pray for the safe keeping of our President and his loved ones.
    May God keep and bless him and his for the courage of his actions. God bless.

  45. MrWhy says:

    Do we have an approximate date for Zelikow’s legal opinion on the SERE interrogation techniques?

  46. Neil says:

    Hey bmaz. It’s good to be back. I’ve been coaching two lacrosse teams, high school and 7th grade in addition to work. It’s been great. Teenagers are a whole new animal to me. Part of coaching is teaching and part of teaching is being heard … figuring out how to do that with 28 kids on an open pitch at the end of a school day is tricky. Some days, I resort to tiring them out with drills and conditioning before we get down to new plays. Half the kids are experienced and half are beginners. It’s a completely different experience than running a computer department at a large law firm.

    It have two good bits of Jeffs news. The Amherst Women’s ice hockey team won the D3 national championship! And Emptywheel will be turning to full time blogging after a successful fund raising effort… I’ve been wondering what else we could do to help toward that end.

  47. leftdcin72 says:

    I believe any competent crinminal counsel will tell you that the subject destroyed memos do not “destroy” any reliance defense that would be used by invoking Yoo and company and their memos. Reliance on approved policy is the justication defense and if it was “legal” to rely on Yoo, then F*** Yoo will be Tenet’s mantra.

  48. Leen says:

    Just listened to Zellikow again. Sure sounds like he is doing everything he can to cover his ass and Rice’s ass. Zellikow seems like he is making an effort to give the Bush administration cover.
    Zellikow “unchartered waters”
    “murky area of the law”
    “I’m just one point of view”
    “of course just offering my opinion”
    “perfectly entitled to hear an alternative opinion”
    “they weren’t commiting an obstruction of justice by trying to destroy copies of the memos”

    Zellikow “I don’t know why they wanted to do it”

    “all it shows is that they were presented with an argument that says your interpretation of the law appears to this one fellow to be unsound”


  49. reader says:

    I bet Feith did visit Gitmo: perhaps he only actually set foot in the infamous gift shop … and he has a real seething hate on for Sands whom he finds ”deeply dishonest” but his tone shouts ’asshole.’

    Sands has a really remarkable piece in the Guardian literally calling Cheney out. I’ll try to make a linky … wish me luck.

  50. reader says:

    ok, linky fail … for the record it’s the Guardian.co.uk on April 21st:

    Philippe Sands ”Publish and be Damned, Mr. Cheney.”

    The URL uses a file label of ”dick-cheney-torture-fox-hannity.”


  51. Nell says:

    Making inline links by hand:

    [a href=”http://url.here”]linkable text[/a]

    put the url in between the quotes
    write the text you want to be linkable (article title is good choice)
    replace the square with pointy brackets

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