Porter Goss Escalates Attacks on Pelosi and Harman–But Admits CIA Broke the Law

Porter Goss–who was DCI when the CIA destroyed videotapes depicting illegal torture and had been warned not to destroy the tapes, and who may have been the "senior CIA official" who allegedly lied to Congress about the torture CIA had done in February and June of 2005–just escalated the Republican attack on Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman. In an op-ed in the WaPo, he describes the briefing Congress’ intelligence leaders received in fall 2002:

Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:

The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.

  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
  • On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

But look carefully at Goss’ language describing what they were briefed on.

In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s "High Value Terrorist Program," including the development of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and what those techniques were. 

[snip]

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as "waterboarding" were never mentioned.

Goss explains that the Gang of Four was briefed on "the development" of the torture program and "what those techniques were." He implies strongly–but does not say it directly–that "waterboarding" was mentioned specifically. And he complains that the attendees should have understood that "the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed."

Note what Pelosi has said:

"In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," said Pelosi. "What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."

[snip]

"Further to the point was that if and when they would be used, they would brief Congress at that time," said Pelosi. "I know that there’s some different interpretations coming out of that meeting. My colleague, the chairman of the [intelligence] committee, has said, well if they say that it’s legal you have to know they’re going to use it. Well, his experience is that he was a member of the CIA and later went on to head the CIA. Maybe his experience is that they’ll tell you one thing but may mean something else."

Pelosi is referring to then-GOP Rep. Porter Goss. "My experience was they did not tell us they were using that, flat out. And any, any contention to the contrary is simply not true," she said.

Porter Goss says Pelosi should have known "the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed." But he doesn’t say she should have known "the techniques on which they were briefed had already been employed." Which is a critical part of her complaint–that CIA did not tell Congress that waterboarding and other techniques "were used" … that "they were using that." This briefing is always described as occuring in "fall 2002." Even interpreting "fall" broadly to include all of September, that means the briefing took place after they had already waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times in a month.

So whether or not Pelosi is arguing "waterboarding" was mentioned or not, even Goss appears to confirm one of Pelosi’s main points. The CIA did not reveal this was already taking place. Even in Goss’ understanding, they revealed only that waterboarding "was to be employed"–in the future.

In addition, Goss scoffs at what he calls Memoranda for the Record filed in secret.

And for those who now reveal filed "memorandums for the record" suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted.

This may refer to a Pelosi memorandum, or it may refer to Jane Harman’s letter to CIA Counsel Scott Muller, in which Harman raised clear policy objections to the torture program.

It is also the case, however, that what was described raises profound policy questions and I am concerned about whether these have been as rigorously examined as the legal questions.  I would like to know what kind of policy review took place and what questions were examined.  In particular, I would like to know whether the most senior levels of the White House have determined that these practices are consistent with the principles and policies of the United States.  Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?

You discussed the fact that there is videotape of Abu Zubaydah following his capture that will be destroyed after the Inspector General finishes his inquiry.  I would urge the Agency to reconsider that plan.  Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future.  The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the Agency.

But note–Harman’s letter was an immediate expression to the CIA Director expressing real concern. Pelosi at least claims to have concurred with that expression of concern. And Muller’s response to Harman? Nada

(Actually, now that I look at it that’s not true–Muller does respond, but he refuses to tell her about the policy background: "While I do not think it appropriate for me to comment on issues that are a matter of policy, much less the nature and extent of Executive Branch policy deliberations, I think it would be fair to assume that policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.")

Now, setting aside Pelosi’s and Goss’ differing understanding of the fall 2002 briefing for a moment, note what Goss, even with his version, also admits to.

Even according to Goss’ version, just the the Chairs and Ranking Members of the two intelligence committees attended the briefing (though he tries to imply, with his "senior members of Congress," that it was more than that). Not the Majority and Minority Leaders of the House and Senate, as required by law. Briefing just the Gang of Four–and not the full Gang of Eight–is a violation of the law. After all, Pelosi couldn’t have complained to the House minority leader (Dick Gephardt at the time), because he had not been briefed on the program!!

So while Goss seems intent on escalating his attempts to implicate Pelosi and Harman in his own complicity with the CIA’s torture program, in doing so he admits that CIA broke the law, twice, in its briefing of Congress. It did not brief Congress before it started the torture (and recall, we know the torture had been contemplated since at least April, so they can’t claim they didn’t have time to inform Congress beforehand). And, the CIA failed to meet the legal requirements on informing Congress by including Congressional leadership as well as intelligence leadership.

Update: The SSCI narrative makes it clear that the briefing of the Senate intelligence leaders, at least, happened after they had already waterboarded Abu Zubaydah.

In the fall of 2002, after the use of interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah, CIA records indicate that the CIA briefed the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee on the interrogation.

[snip]

Just as the statement does not purport to identify all Executive Branch meetings and documents on the CIA detention and interrogation program, the statement does not purport to describe either all Executive Branch communications or briefings to the Committee about, or the limitations on the Committee’s use of and access to information about, the CIA’s program.

The second half of that quote–which is a footnote–suggests the Republicans may have gotten more (or there may have been complaints), and that there were at least complaints about how the intell leaders could use the information.

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57 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t know that Goss set her up so much as Goss got something that he could use down the road. Whoever the person Harman was talking to was, he is almost certainly someone tons of people in Congress talk to (AIPAC being what it is). So there are probably some more conversations that may be of use.

      Plus, Goss didn’t get the Harman stuff till later–probably 2005. So if it was a reaction against Harman, it was probably a reaction to her badgering him (if it was him) in February 2005. It’s pretty clear Harman remained opposed to this stuff. And there may be stuff she did later which makes her more dangerous for Goss.

      • gaby says:

        porter goss represented punta gorda many years,lots of excia moved there in the 60s,they watch each others back..just donated to marcy fund,I can’t type,can’t spell and my writing gets garbled but do know a great artist when i see or is that hear or is that read one.. gaby ps always wondered why porter left bush wh and what happened,hes pretty dumb

        • fatster says:

          If you’ll go to http://google.com and type “punta gorda cia” in the search bar (don’t use the quotation marks, just type in the words) and click on the Search button, lots of links will appear. The difficulty is in assessing the accuracy of the info presented. Punta Gorda is a very interesting place.

    • gaby says:

      I wonder if its the timing, the report comes out,Cheney ratches up attack now porter,goss must have known he might be in deep dooodoo so follows cheney example and attack harman,pelosi throw enough dirt into the water til it turn to mud

    • Sand says:

      I really don’t think the plan was to set Harman up.

      I question this theory:

      — JTA: Note the operative verbs: Lede: It was Goss who “concluded” that the tap required more action. He drew this conclusion not because Harman’s alleged involvement was raised with him,…”

      http://blogs.jta.org/politics/…..ane-harman

      “Concluded” after he may have been advised? There’s nothing in the NYTimes article that I can see that he ‘alone’ concluded Harman had completed a crime?

      Who is to say the investigative team brought it to ‘his’ attention? — Here we really do need the timeline… when was the suspected Israel spy FISA warrant up for renewal — and when was Harman making deals on the tapes? Do these dates really coincide? It supposedly was an FBI case — according to Stein the investigative team on Harman wanted Mueller to sign off on the warrant [for Harman]?

      Stein: “A former intelligence official familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity Monday that Goss had been asked due to the unavailability of FBI director Robert Mueller to certify a FISA warrant that was seemingly triggered by a captured communication between Harman and someone who was already being surveilled by the U.S. government (presumably, the suspected ‘Israeli agent’).”

      http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/sp…..eferrer=js

      Then we are told Goss found problems with the Harman tapes during a ‘periodic review’ stage — ok. I just think it too movie-ish for Goss and Goss alone to go through mounds of transcripts and say ‘hey we’ve got her’ so what can we do with this information 4 years down the road when I’m out of office.

      Not withstanding the fact that it appears an intelligence official[s] had to go behind Goss’s back to alert Pelosi — that Harman had been caught. They might have felt they had to do this because, maybe, their request for an appropriate surveillance warrant from Mueller &/or Goss were getting stymied?

      Also, what agency[s] decided that Harman had carried out a ‘completed crime’ — was that on the impetuous of Goss as well — to confirm legal status?

      I just think there are too many unanswered questions — to immediately jump to the conclusion that the hit was made on Harman because of his sole hatred for Harman — I’m sure Harman [and Pelosi] are not his only enemies.

  1. allan says:

    Slightly OT, but NPR running full-tilt at Harman this morning,
    with Scott Simon and senior news analyst (and Britt Hume punching bag) Juan Williams
    giving a completely garbled account of what is known so far.
    Not content with that, Simon regurgitated it an hour later with Dan Schorr.

    Whatever one might think of NPR, when the chips are down
    they certainly know how to get with the program.

  2. phred says:

    Not to belabor the point, but Bob Graham, Chair of SSCI in fall 2002 claims he was never briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques at all.

    To borrow Mary’s phrase, I hope someone has papered those briefings, because either Graham or Goss must be lying.

      • phred says:

        Sorry EW, I’m slow this morning, could you clarify what you mean by “Goss may be including Graham in this as well”. As a member of the Gang of 4 in fall 2002, Graham would have been briefed according to Goss. According to Graham he was not. As you note, Graham was (probably still is) an avid note taker. So how hard would it be for someone to look for someone’s notes on theses briefings, whether Goss’ or Graham’s?

        By the way, have you seen this over at McClatchy from Siebel and Strobel?

        Quoting IG Helgerson’s report, then-deputy assistant attorney general Bradbury noted that in addition to waterboarding Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times, some prisoners had been subjected to walling “20 to 30 times consecutively.”

        Perhaps you have noted this already and I overlooked it, but 20-30 times in a row? That must have caused brain damage.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, I think I pointed that out–there were reports before the ICRC report came out that the walling was what they were really worried about being exposed. Note that in one session, KSM was walled so hard his head was bleeding, after which they moved him to the waterboard.

          • phred says:

            Thanks EW, I remember your piece on the walling, I just must have overlooked the part about 20-30 times in a row. I wonder what it takes to shock a Bushies conscience — a cattle prod?

          • Arishia says:

            Two things come to mind wrt walling. 1. Contralateral brain injury 2. Catecholamine depletion caused by ’shocking’ the nervous system (note how many times in the report walling is defined as ‘to shock’ rather than to cause extreme pain)

            What I don’t understand in my reading of the legal justifications for these techniques in regards to prolonged harm is the total absense of any medical assessment of these ‘techniques’, especially when combined. These ‘techniques’ cause dramatic changes to the physiology of the subject. Exactly what those changes are, and how long they last is something I would like to know. Just doing quick research it looks like the immune system can be permanently damaged from catecholamine depletion, and that is just the tip of the iceburg.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Unlike the Germans, whose minute records condemned many to imprisonment or death after the Second World War, this administration was ruthless in not minutely documenting its crimes, at least in not saving its documents (e.g., torture tapes, Cheney’s continual shredding of what he held in his man-sized safes.) Records were also one of the things that threatened Reagan administration officials with prison in the Iran-Contra scandal. No one ever said Karl and Big Dick didn’t learn from history.

            • bmaz says:

              …is the total absense of any medical assessment of these ‘techniques’, especially when combined

              I think the combining of techniques and stacking of them is an element that is still wildly underplayed. It is known that the design was to combine for effect. There is no reason in the world not to believe that it was so done heinously. In fact, this is one of the problems that Convening Authority Susan Crawford complained of for the record. Each of the enhanced techniques is abhorrent in and of itself; used in serial and parallel combinations exacerbate the effect geometrically.

              Picture for instance a subject being taken to a second short of death via a tough waterboarding session and then into a crouching “cold cell”. Only to be yanked out and subjected to the waterboard again. Does anybody think this type of conduct isn’t what happened?

              • emptywheel says:

                Or, as happened to KSM, getting slammed up against a wall enough times that you head started bleeding, and then going directly from there to the waterboard.

                I’m trying to figure out why they did that May 10 as two briefings. Was one “public” and the second not? That is, were they trying to hide they were combining them?

                • bmaz says:

                  Can’t say, but this – the underplaying of the combining of techniques – has been bugging me for a while. And the memos are quite clear that they are not just combining one enhanced technique with standard interrogation non-invasive techniques, they were all about combining assorted enhanced techniques. It boggles the mind.

              • SparklestheIguana says:

                You are so right – and much more emphasis needs to be placed on this. This is why it is so irritating to read about Christopher Hitchens being waterboarded, and Sean Hannity volunteering to be waterboarded – as if that experience could possibly duplicate, or even approach, what one of these detainees was subjected to.

                • Arishia says:

                  Exactly. This was a ‘program’. It began with nudity, hoods, incontinence with and without a diaper, shaving beards and heads, cavity searches, sleep deprivation for days at a time, moving from place to place, dietary restriction, cold or heat, stress positions, constant loud noise, and then the interrogations began with walling, hosing, submerging in cold water, slapping, boxing, dogs, waterboarding, etc. I wonder if there are records that show what was done, when, and for how long–for each prisoner. I doubt anyone would unclassify that even if it does still exist.

  3. drational says:

    Someone tell Porter Goss that in the Fall of 2002, “waterboarding” was presented as a “harmless” exercise of persuasion, but that what the interrogators were doing in practice was actually so dangerous as to require a physician and surgical tools in the room to prevent death.

    • drational says:

      In other words Goss lied to congress.
      Goss knew by December 2002 after AZ or al-Nashiri drowned and was resucsitated, that waterboarding was a killer. This is why they stuck a pulse oximeter on KSM for his waterboarding in March 2003: from the IIRC report in the NY Review of Books (P12):

      Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed described a device attached to one of his fingers, the reading of which was checked regularly by a person he assumed to be a doctor.

      and (P18)

      For example, Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, in his third place of detention, one of his interrogators stated that the greenlight had been received from Washington to give him a “hard time” and that, although they would not let him die, he would be brought to the “verge of death and back again”.

      Did Porter Goss inform congress that waterboarding involved a doctor so that they could interrogate to the brink of death, then resuscitate them to do it all again?

      • perris says:

        al-Nashiri drowned and was resucsitated, that waterboarding was a killer. This is why they stuck a pulse oximeter on KSM for his waterboarding in March 2003: from the IIRC report in the NY Review of Books (P12):

        that’s something our lawmakers need to have at hand and using

  4. perris says:

    “In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used,” said Pelosi. “What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”

    this is the same thing as the false data that got us into Iraq

    pelosi and the gang were NOT shown the information that informed them this WAS torture, they were NOT shown the information that these techniques would be COUNTER prodcutive

    they were “told they had council that these techniques could be used”

    sorry, goss is WAY off base even IF goss’s depiction is accurate

  5. BoxTurtle says:

    The more I read about, the more I think that the Dr’s and Shrinks involved are the true evil.

    Identify them. Pull their licenses. Unless they were held at gunpoint by blackwater (which I do not rule out), they’re no better than Mengele.

    Boxturtle (Screw Godwin. Lets see anyone read about this and not think of Mengele)

    • JTMinIA says:

      Please note that Jessen and Mitchell are not members of the APA, although they might be licenses in some state (Utah?). With that said, Mazzarato was the president of the APA, is still an APA member, and is on the board of Jessen Mitchell and Fellow Subhumans (aka Jessen Mitchell and Associates).

      I ceased to be a member of the APA about a year ago. It means that I can’t be on the editorial board of APA journals, which is a career limitation, but I think you might agree that some things are more important than career.

      I believe that the AMA went through a similar soul search to the APA. I don’t know the outcome; I hope it was better than the APA’s (which was pathetic).

  6. GregB says:

    Let us also remember the words of Porter Goss that he spoke at a commencement address as his career was ending:

    “Admit nothing, deny everything and always make counter accusations.”

    -G

  7. drational says:

    At this point, it should be clear that the Harman leak is part of a concerted campaign by the torture apologentsia. They got their immunity for wiretapping, but they are deeply and unpleasantly fucked by their torture decisions.

  8. PJEvans says:

    Goss must be aware that the committee briefings were selective in who was briefed – I’d bet that most of those presents, if not all of them, were Rs.

    Yes, they can say that senior members of the committee were briefed, but that doesn’t mean that the minority side was even present, and they must know it.

  9. lysias says:

    Everybody seems to have been operating under a presumption that, so long as a practice is legal, it is permissible — perhaps even obligatory — to use it. Where does that presumption come from? Aren’t there lots of things that are legal but so immoral that they should never be done?

  10. lysias says:

    Profoundly cynical advice for Goss to give graduating students at a commencement.

    Unless it was obviously meant as a joke. But even then…

  11. ezdidit says:

    What drives such idiocy as this ineffectual Goss editorial? What prompted him to issue such drivel? Did Cheney demand that he had to write something so this is the best he could do?

    Why would Goss come forward with such weak and flawed accusations? Is this the best strategy to substantiate one’s own malfeasance?

    (Or, independent of the Principals Committee and Cheney, is he afraid because he now stands at the precipice of some large pit?)

    And, more broadly, what kind of stupidity drives this current Republican obsession that they can absolve themselves and the Bush administration if they only run toward Congressional investigations? Is the pot being boiled to drive a cover-up?

    Do the R’s really think that a special prosecutor will be able to cover this up against the hue and cry from the international community?

    It will be really interesting to see the facts emerge transparently, on the record and open to full public scrutiny in international prosecution, while the R’s special prosecutor attempts to conceal his inquiry.

    I’m lost in a miasma of hypocrisy

    • drational says:

      Torturers need congress to:
      1. derail Dawn Johnsen
      2. derail or sandbag truth commissions and committee investigations.
      3. bargain with Obama on Obama’s policy agenda (no special prosecutor if you want a budget, new trains, etc).

      Hence:
      1. Implicate them all in knowing about torture to remind them their shoes are at least partially sullied.
      2. Pull out the dirty stuff- announce that you hold transcripts of wiretaps of at least one congresswoman who talked to an Aipac lobbyist.

      • ezdidit says:

        Dawn Johnsen will be the least of their problems. As you might guess, it’s the considered opinion of many that these m*****er****ers ought to be under house arrest, if not in jail, if only to preclude their flight to certain countries that do not respect extradition treaties on the basis of political persecution.

        Cheney seems to be establishing the political basis of any Holder prosecution to save his and GWB’s sorry asses. mmmm…does this sound too much like a Paraguay fix? …again?

  12. pdaly says:

    Here’s an abc news link to the words of wisdom Goss was spreading that GregB noted above. He’s at Tiffin University in Ohio.

    It’s not clear from this article whether Goss said these words only to the students in a room before graduation or also included these words in his graduation speech:

    Before commencement, Goss met privately for an hour with students enrolled in the university’s national security studies program. Corinne Blake, a junior from Akron, Ohio, said afterward that Goss was in an upbeat mood while taking questions from students. No one asked him directly why he resigned, she said.

    “We were informed ahead of time he wasn’t there to talk about current events,” Blake said.

    Goss told the graduating students that if he were addressing a graduating class of CIA case officers, he would advise them, “Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counteraccusations.”

    Goss commended Tiffin, which has programs in homeland security and terrorism as well as intelligence and international studies, and other small institutions with a diverse student background.

    “We need to reach out and tap into our nations deep diversity so we don’t have ‘cookie-cutter’ officers who act, look, speak and think alike. ‘Groupthink’ is a dangerous trap in any profession but especially so in the intelligence business,” he said.

  13. nadezhda says:

    I’m going to repeat a comment I left on the post from last night re CIA not sharing with NSC or the principals the warnings in the JPRA memo:

    If the CIA was sanitizing everything in multiple briefings to the NSC principals — who had power of decision — imagine how sanitized the dog-and-pony show in approx Sept 2002 for the Congressional bigshots must have been. Tell them enough to check off the “briefing” box so the CIA covers the Admin’s backside, but not enough to get the Congresscritters hot and bothered so they might make waves. “Don’t worry, these techniques are proven safe and effective, and we’ll only use them when it’s a matter of existential threat, and we’ve got OLC legal opinion, so trust us…” Makes Pelosi’s claims pretty plausible.

    So it’s not just that they’d already started torturing people before they briefed the Gang of Four (which should, in any event, have been the Gang of Eight). CIA almost certainly wouldn’t have shared with Congresscritters explosive material they didn’t share with NSC et al, so the briefing contents were bogus as well.

    As with the OLC memos, they were creating a CYA papertrail, nothing more. And I’d bet that their papertrail is ambiguous enough (and untrustworthy enough like the OLC memos) to be able to later claim, as Porter Goss does, “well, the Gang of Four ought to have understood what was going on.”

    The more puzzling aspect for me is that Graham has stuck by his contention that he (they) wasn’t even briefed on some of this stuff. Yet as Harman’s letter of Feb 10 2003 shows, she came away from at least the early 2003 briefing (not the c Sept 2002 briefing) pretty hot and bothered. Was she demanding and getting some briefings separate from those given to the Gangs where they started to be more forthcoming about what they were actually doing? They disclosed enough about their actual activities that Harman knew there was a video that needed to be retained as evidence of how the program was being implemented.

    Was she just more “tuned in” to spook-speak and was able, like Goss, to read between the lines at the briefing that the CIA was playing “hide the cookie”?

    • phred says:

      The more puzzling aspect for me is that Graham has stuck by his contention that he (they) wasn’t even briefed on some of this stuff. Yet as Harman’s letter of Feb 10 2003 shows, she came away from at least the early 2003 briefing (not the c Sept 2002 briefing) pretty hot and bothered

      Graham was no longer a member of the Gang of 4 in 2003. He was chair only through the end of 2002. Perhaps the 2003 briefing included more/different info than 2002.

      • nadezhda says:

        Yes, phred, that was what I was getting at indirectly. Looking at the Goss op-ed, seems to me he’s doing his best to blur the timeline and “who was getting briefings” with his disbelief that his colleagues now say they weren’t being fully informed. But “who” and “when” is actually pretty critical to sort out what the Democrats are claiming re being underinformed. Which, as I indicated in my earlier comment, is a claim consistent with the claim in the WaPo article, that CIA wasn’t sharing with the NSC and principals the warnings coming from the JPRA. They were instead claiming that it was safe, effective, “no alternative” and blessed by the lawyers. So if in mid-late 2002 they were sanitizing for the NSC, just think how much sanitizing they were doing for the Gang of Four.

        Note, in the op-ed Goss starts off with the specific Sept 2002 briefing (both Graham and Pelosi are in agreement on at least the point that the briefing left some key elements out). Then Goss handwaves that there was lots of to-and-from between briefers and briefees — but when? which, since the composition of the Gang of Four changed during this period. And then Goss uses the KSM interrogation — which is at a totally different point in the timeline — as his final “trump”. I’ll quote from the op-ed, since it’s one of the key places where he uses the sleight-of-hand to confuse the timeline, who was getting briefed about what and when, and who is saying they weren’t fully briefed.

        In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.

        Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

        And then, after totally confusing the “who was briefed, when, and about what”, and “who engaged in follow-up to-and-fro”, Goss goes back to his list of what he recollects as to what was briefed and what the reactions were. The way it’s written, the list seems to be things covered in the Sept 2002 briefing, but he’s just expanded the time period to include post KSM interrogations, which now covers a period from Sept 2002 into deep into 2003. This expanded time period includes when Harman sent her warning letter to Muller (Feb 2003) — which certainly doesn’t read as if it were simply a to-and-fro which resulted in a bipartisan kumbaya “tell us how we can do anything to help you guys” reaction. And Goss’s new, implicit, expanded time period covers a shifting membership in the Gangs of Four and Eight.

        Slick, eh?

  14. annagranfors says:

    This is real peripheral, perhaps even completely beside the point, but when I read the words “Gang Of Four”, it got me wondering, not for the first time, why during the last decade or so we’ve adopted so many of the terminologies of the ChiComs and the Russkies and the Nazis…why do we have to call ‘em “czars”? How many “gangs of x” have we had, now? And my favorite–”homeland”, or “heimat”, as it was known in its original German National Socialist Party sense?

    I mean, they all had names before that seemed, I dunno, more “American”. Instead of “gangs of x”, we had “groups” or “alliances”. Instead of “czars”, we had “leaders” or “directors”. And I *really* like the term “national” more than “homeland”.

    Like I said, peripheral. But really effing creepy, too.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Goss is simply not credible. Cheney hated telling Congress about anything, especially what the executive branch was obligated to tell it. His attidues were law, not the law itself. Further, when his administration did brief Congress, it routinely told Democrats less than it told Republicans, and sometimes shut them out altogether.

    Finally, Goss knew the CIA was in troubled waters and would have avoided at all costs disclosing the true nature of these interrogations. The administration hid its torture memos, for example, even from most of its own people, and hid the interrogations from other armed federal agencies like the FBI. Goss, for example, was often out of the loop, by all accounts, on what Cambone and Feith were during at DoD.

    As an expression of its dominant personality, this administration hoarded information more closely than any other resource. It did spend billions on such things as FBI computer systems (most flawed and unimplemented), designed to “improve” information sharing. Look at the abortion it made of White House telecoms systems, presumably by design so as to hide its outsourcing to the RNC.

    How likely is it to have told Democrats in Congress, whom its rhetoric treated as enemies, like the Taliban, such information?

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I think one of the reasons Goss is so panicked is that he probably got a head’s up before the torture, but didn’t tell his counterpart (Pelosi).

      But if he got a head’s up before the torture started, it might explain why he’d be willing to help CIA destroy the torture tapes in 2005–because he was on the hook too.

      • fatster says:

        This is the first time I’ve ever seen everyone in that picture identified, so I’m glad you posted the link to it. A stepfather was the spitting image of one of those guys and it was his habit to get drunk, grab his machete and brandish it about while stomping around the place loudly cursing Fidel. Fortunately, I was a tad too old at the time for the stepfather’s outbursts to require years of therapy to overcome. Instead, I developed a great deal of interest in the 26th of July Movement and the struggles of poor people everywhere–and eventually attained my own liberation.

        (No, that stepfather was not the guy in the picture, though the resemblance was startling. And nauseating.)

  16. reader says:

    Do these people seriously think these issues can be put to rest on the basis of Saturday Op-Eds in the NYT??

    I want to see the entire official bi-partisan record.

    At least they can’t retro-actively paper the files. And they can’t possibly have thought of every possible line of investigation.

    Go ew!

  17. rkilowatt says:

    EPU’d: Perhaps protocol/rules on briefing Gang Of 8 are easily gamed by briefing 1 or 2 at a time and denying the right to discuss with other members…during or after said briefing. Being briefed as a group is utterly different than individually.

    Per Harmon’s letter to Muller “following up on the briefing we gave you and Congressman Goss on 5 February…. That’s like briefing Harmon alone bec Goss is already an agent of CIA, leaving Harmon easily intimidated and without credible witness of what she was told/observed or what she may have said or protested.

    The only recourse she had to protest being so victimized was to document it in her letter to Muller.

    Re-read her letter…she is asking Qs that would normally be asked in a briefing…Qs that ask for clarification so that elements of a briefing can merely be understood…like briefer’s use of wrong words or misunderstood words or phrases that she could not perhaps dare to ask while confronted alone.

    Her letter reads more like a plea from the wilderness.

  18. freepatriot says:

    so porter goss admits he had prior knowledge of crimes against humanity

    that’s what I get from his statement

    there IS NO DOUBT that porter goss committed crimes against humanity

    implicating those Democrats is workin out real well

    we ain’t seen a shred of evidence against a single Democrat in Congress, but porter goss admitted he’s a war criminal

    beyond a reasonable doubt, and to a moral certainty

    from his own lips

  19. freepatriot says:

    the underplaying of the combining of techniques – has been bugging me for a while

    that’s because lyndie england and mr grainer (don’t know his first name) were following orders, using techniques that would prepare the victims for later treatment

    once you draw a straight line between lyndie england and george bush, there can be NO DOUBT of george bush’s guilt

    we KNOW lyndie england committed a crime

    george bush said so

  20. frankly0 says:

    Certainly Goss and the Bush administration tried to do what they could to hide from the Democrats in Congress all that had been going on with respect to torture, and, apparently, pretended to be discussing, as hypotheticals, things that were already quite actual.

    But I think we need to note the cowardice of the Dems even in the face of the limited knowledge they did possess. Even the letter from Harman is inexcusably mild in its reproach, such as it is, of what was being discussed, hypothetical or not.

    In this sordid affair, it appears no courage was to be found anywhere. Not a single political leader, so far as I can make out, managed to take a firm stand against what so clearly was wrong and, indeed, simply evil.

    I can’t see any reason to give the Democrats a pass on this. I don’t see how they are legally responsible for what went on, but their own moral culpability seems unquestionable.

  21. Continuum says:

    Goss is perhaps “pissing off” the wrong people. Currently, the Dems are in control of the White House, House of Representatives, and Senate. Any of which could initiate investigations that would (probably will) lead to recommendations for criminal prosecution. Pelosi is in a powerful position from which she could pressure Obama (if he needs pressure) to direct the DOJ to investigate. Pelosi can likewise ensure that several of the House committees being investigations. Holder may be compelled by the facts to appoint a special prosecutor, should he wish the prosecution to be separate from his personal control. Given the above analysis, Goss appears to have much to worry about. As do Yoo, Bybee, Gonzales, up to and including Cheney.

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