The Torture Document Dump Timeline

John Lopresti noted that it might be helpful to have a timeline of all the torture documents released in the last several weeks. And you know I can’t resist requests for timelines. So here goes:

April 6: NYRB posts the Red Cross report on high value detainees

April 9: CIA Director Leon Panetta bans contractors from conducting interrogations

April 16: Obama statement on memo release, torture memos released:

  • August 1, 2002: Memo from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA 
  • May 10, 2005: Memo from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA ["Techniques"]
  • May 10, 2005: Memo from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA ["Combined"]
  • May 30, 2005: Memo from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA

April 21: Senate Armed Services Committee releases declassified Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody

April 22: Senate Intelligence Committee releases declassified Narrative Describing the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s Opinions on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (Jello Jay’s statement on the release)

April 23: Ali Soufan, FBI interrogator, publishes NYT op-ed describing early interrogation of Abu Zubaydah

April 23: DOJ announces it will release a number of photos showing detainee abuse that had previously been FOIAed, along with thousands more

April 24: Greg Sargent gets a copy of Cheney’s request for two documents to make his "efficacy" case

April 24: In ACLU FOIA case, Judge Hellerstein orders a more expansive response on torture tape documents from CIA

April 24: WaPo releases JPRA memo–which had been circulated among the torture architects–using the word "torture" and warning that torture will beget false information

69 replies
  1. SparklestheIguana says:

    I sleep for 7 hours, go for a run, eat lunch, and there are 5 new posts, holy poop! Now must go back and catch up….

    • freepatriot says:

      no Mathew Stafford thread though

      I thought this was supposed to be a “Diverse” blog, but I guess I was wrong

      ya just get politics and formula one .87

      maybe in Michigan, they just don’t care about football any more

      and I ain’t convinced that funding Marcy is the best idea we’ve ever had. I can barely keep up with her posts NOW

      if we started payin people to help her, she’s gonna RUIN my quality time with teh dogs, and the fish, and the toad, and the turtles

      did I mention I got a shitload of plants that need water …

      maybe we should think this thru

      wont anybody think of the chilruns

      (winkin & runnin)

      • bmaz says:

        Hey, I think Stafford is a good kid and potentially the real deal; now the Motor Kitties need to get him some help on the line.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          They’ll probably start the poor SOB this season and get him all busted up before he learns the ropes.

          Boxturtle (Browns Fan: Lemme tell you how THAT ends)

          • freepatriot says:

            freepatriot; Bill Parcells fan

            I never know where I’m gonna get traded to next (from NY Giants, NE, NT Jets, almost TB, Dallas, and beautiful sunny MIAMI {GO FINS})

            #2, jason smith o/t baylor

            • BoxTurtle says:

              I was dreaming that Smith would fall to the Browns and they’d be smart enough to grab him.

              Boxturtle (asking for two miracles is greedy, I suppose)

      • acquarius74 says:

        April 22: Senate Intelligence Committee releases declassified Narrative Describing the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s Opinions on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (Jello Jay’s statement on the release)

        Marcie, have you seen the Scott Horton article in Harper’s dated 04/24/09, entitled, ‘Straight to the Top’ which gives the link to Holder’s cover letter dated 04/17/09 to which is attached JDR’s 16 page Narrative.

        The Harper’s article is important in that:

        Paragraph 1:

        Holder’s memos refers to the participants by their job titles only, but John Sifton runs it through a decoder and gives us the actual names….

        Paragraph 4:

        ….The central role played by Rice and Bellinger helps explain the State Department’s abrupt about-face on international law issues related to torture immediately after Rice became Secretary of State and Bellinger became Legal Adviser. It also makes clear that Vice President Cheney and President Bush were fully informed of what has happened and approved.

        If you have not seen this I think you will find it interesting.

        • bobschacht says:

          Horton’s article is interesting, but the decoding seems incomplete. For example, in the “key passage”:

          “[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”

          In the last sentence, would “the CIA proposed” = John Rizzo? If so, more evidence that Rizzo was not just a passive bystander, but an advocate for an illegal position.

          Bob in HI

          • acquarius74 says:

            That’s my take, but it seems odd to me that with all those big-wigs there that Tenet wasn’t??

            Over at Christy’s there’s a link to her radio interview (she was great) She made a distubring statement: that the statute of limitations on torture is set to run out in 2010 on some of these cases. So the BushCo crowd will slowwalk everything and stonewall and drag out until then they can say there isn’t enough time. You know, like they did on the wiretaps.

            There’s no statute of lims on murder, though, and some of those detaineees did during interrogation and later as a result of it. There are online photos of Death Certificates for detainees which show ‘Homicide’ as the cause of death.

        • emptywheel says:

          I had already done that–attach names–here. The timeline is helpful, but remember that SSCI isn’t documenting the earlier conversations within the War Council.

      • gaby says:

        not quite the subject but cheneys fox interview ,the mike was was picking up alot of lung rasps, ask any md to listen to tape ,knowing his age and heart history it sounds really bad for cheney,i’ve heard this sound before ,my husdanb died at 49 with less heart conditions same sound.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Hey Freep! Haven’t forgottten about you, just don’t seem to be reading when you are. Drop me a note at boxturtle at woh dot rr dot com, and we’ll take turtle talk to email.

    Folks are having trouble keeping with Marcy’s post blizzard anyway.

    Boxturtle (Everytime I step away to do a chore, she’s puts up another post)

  3. freepatriot says:

    this just in, no good deed goes unpunished:

    Mathew Stafford, sentenced to Detroit by the NFL commissioner

    some poor guy is gonna be sentenced to St Louis next …


  4. eagleye says:

    That document dump timeline makes me think maybe Obama and Holder are playing 11-dimension chess after all. They are providing enough material to fuel a groundswell of support for investigation and prosecution of war crimes.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I think they’re hoping the war crimes noise drowns out the illegal wiretapping noise.

      They’ll have real trouble stopping torture/war crimes prosecutions in America, never mind old Europe. But the wiretapping is a purely American crime and it could go quietly away if nobody is watching.

      Boxturtle (The Torture seems almost entirely GOP, wiretapping hits both parties)

    • Nell says:

      Obama and Holder are responsible for the release of only some of the documents in the timeline, and those are the result of court orders.

      I give credit where credit is due: they didn’t heavily redact the memos, and there is every indication the Office of Professional Responsibility report on the OLC lawyers’ torture memos will also be released before too long. But neither Obama nor Holder had anything to do with the leaking of the Red Cross report, the two Senate committee reports, Ali Soufan’s op-ed, Greg Sargent’s fact-check of Cheney’s document request, the Washington Post’s acquisition of the JPRA document, or Judge Hellerstein’s rulings in the ACLU suit.

      As for Panetta’s announcement about the secret prisons, read EW herself at the time (and Valtin’s blog) for reasons to think that item doesn’t even belong on this list.

      An item that does:

      ProPublica’s list of at least 30 currently disappeared prisoners (which is itself not complete).

  5. bmaz says:

    The Browns. I thought that ended in Baltimore with Modell winning a SuperBowl. Okay, that’s not fair, I’m sorry.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      FREEP! Cleanup in asle 10!!!

      Boxturtle (When you’re done there, perhaps you’re going to be somewhere near Baltimore?)

      • freepatriot says:

        (Browns Fan: Lemme tell you how THAT ends)

        I thought it ended when the river catches on fire again

        we are talking about Cleveland here

        I know it’s not politically correct to laugh at a man made ecological disaster, but the fookin tiver caught on fire, I can’t help myself

        • BoxTurtle says:

          If you don’t believe the Cuyahoga river is polluted, walk out to the middle, dig a hole, and look for yourself.

          Boxturtle (Headline from one of the MANY times it ignited)

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    Dang it, now Jackson is gone to KC. I hope the Browns don’t do something stupid like take a quarterback.

    EW herself says not to read this thread, so it might as well become the Draft trashtalk thread.

    Boxturtle (Somebody update the headers)

  7. freepatriot says:

    hey, Mark Sanchez, don’t believe em

    they SAY it’s new york

    but it’s really New Jersey

  8. BoxTurtle says:

    With Smith, Jackson, & Curry down, I’m not sure I’m going to criticize. I wanna know what they got for it, though.

    Boxturtle (Lots of good defense picks in the later rounds)

  9. bmaz says:

    Alright guys, I put up a draft trash talk so we can quit fouling up the real work here. So head over there with yer football chatter.

    • whitewidow says:

      Research shows otherwise, Mr. Drumheller.…..mptype=rss…..lateID=288

      Torture is for Amateurs

      Torture does not yield reliable information and actually backfires in intelligence interrogations. This was the conclusion of seven research psychologists and four recently retired, senior U.S. Army interrogators after a 2006 seminar to rethink the psychology of torture. Now, in a more detailed report titled Torture is for Amateurs, the psychologists and former interrogators have published their findings, presenting what is currently known about the psychology of torture, in a special issue of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Volume 13 Issue 4, 2007. -snip-

      Psychological research suggests that torture may be undertaken for reasons other than information gathering, such as displacement of aggression and to intimidate the general population. An expert on intergroup relations, Moghaddam suggests torture is a consequence often of frustration aggression—of a group and its leader being frustrated with a situation and venting aggression. Moghaddam also argues that torture is sometimes used to intimidate populations. “Not so much as a means of getting information, but keeping people under control and the kind of thinking that says we don’t care what they think of us as long as they’re scared of us,” says Moghaddam.

  10. burqa says:

    I loves me a timeline.
    Frequently they help give perspective.

    You’re doing terrific work, Ms. Wheel….

  11. Rayne says:

    Hey Marcy — hate to say it, but I think you’re accumulating posts fast enough that using tags/categories is warranted.

    If you’re putting up more than 5 posts a day, content rolls off the page and can only be found by digging.

    Any chance somebody backend can help with the tag/categories?

  12. daka101 says:

    But what about the March 31st date on Cheney’s request for his memos?

    Seems that should be at the top of the list, sort of the kick-off event. Not like he expected all this to happen, right?

  13. perris says:

    you know what I just realized?

    neither cheney nor bush ever claimed “other presidents also approved torture”

    that’s interesting isn’t it?…if they could prove torture programs were approved by other presidents they definately would

    that’s an avenue for discussion me thinks

    • skdadl says:

      perris, Sheldon Whitehouse did a classic smackdown of David Rivkin on precisely this turf a couple of months ago.

      You can watch here. You have to suffer through Rivkin claiming that the Bush admin’s conduct during the war on terra was “exemplary,” considering what earlier generations have done. But then you get to hear Whitehouse pull that rug out from under him.

      (TPM actually edited two parts of that hearing together to get the perfect gem, but it’s fair enough. I think Whitehouse had just been biding his time till he could get that zinger in.)

      • acquarius74 says:

        skdadl, I followed your idea on the Matt Alexander vs. Rivkin and posted a new Oxdown giving the links to both parts of the video. Different site than yours. I gave you adn burqa full credit and the link to the diary. It’s entitled, Vidoe: Best Debate: Torture or Trust’. Matt really got in a punch when he said that he had gone through the SERE school. Rivkin’s got nothing but a headful of words he memorized and no actual experience in the matters he’s arguing for.

        • skdadl says:

          Well done, acquarius — I left a comment on your diary. I was so pleased that you found the link to the whole show — I’d watched it before, but when I went looking for it the other day at YouTube, I just couldn’t find it, or remember Riz Khan’s name.

          We’ve discovered a new genre on this thread: the few times I have been able to sit through David Rivkin because I knew there was someone smarter about to slice and dice everything he says. Points to “Matthew Alexander” and Sheldon Whitehouse so far. *wink*

          A query: Isn’t “unlawful enemy combatant” a term that Bush made up — the “unlawful” part, I mean?

          • perris says:

            A query: Isn’t “unlawful enemy combatant” a term that Bush made up — the “unlawful” part, I mean?

            does seem redundant doesn’t it, however once you declare war or the oponent declares war I don’t think anyone on the oposition can be considered “unlawful”

            interesting all around

  14. flyarm616 says:

    Thank you EW incredible list and incredible and much appreciated work you have done!!
    You are truely amazing!!

  15. perris says:

    I would like to request an edit for the following time line entry;

    April 24: WaPo releases JPRA memo–which had been circulated among the torture architects–using the word “torture” and warning that torture will beget false information and bring harm to our own soldiers

    pease to add my italics, a most important point

    I believe this is one of the most important memos since it clearly demonstrates the “consequences” were not “unintended” they were in fact intended consequences

  16. JohnLopresti says:

    Appreciation to ew, and Nell for the addition, for the sharpened image of this slice of the bureaucratic dialog.

  17. Leen says:

    Jeremy Scahill nails it

    Congress was Briefed in Real Time on Bush-Era Torture Tactics. Is That Why They Prefer Whitewash Commissions and Closed Door Hearings?
    Are Leading Democrats Afraid of a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Torture?


    There are not exactly throngs of Democratic Congressmembers beating down the doors of the Justice Department demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special Independent Prosecutor to investigate torture and other crimes. And now it seems that whatever Congress does in the near term won’t even be open to the public. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said this week that he prefers that the Senate Intelligence Committee hold private hearings. The chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has asked the White House not to take any action until this private affair is concluded. She estimates that will take 6-8 months.

  18. Leen says:

    As the Shredders Hum
    Obama Plays Hamlet on Torture


    Obama’s Faustian Bargain?

    In a recent article on torture, I asked what might be holding the Obama administration back from appointing an independent prosecutor to investigate all this, so that as a nation we could hold to account any proven guilty and put this shameful chapter of American history behind us once and for all.

    A reader replied in an email offering this answer to what is holding the administration back: “John D. Rockefeller, IV, and the Democrats who knew [about the torture] and did nothing.” The sender signed the email: “Kathleen M. Rockefeller Uncowardly Cousin.”

    The disclosures in the Shane/Mazzetti article, and plenty of other evidence suggest that this may not be far off the mark. The fact that so many Democratic leaders had complicit knowledge of the torture is no doubt one of the powerful forces working on our president.

    Maybe, just maybe, the president insisted on releasing the torture memos with a view toward determining whether Americans really care, whether we would be appropriately outraged—so outraged that we would put inexorable pressure on him to hold everyone, repeat everyone, accountable.

    Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (Verso). He can be reached at: [email protected]


    • emptywheel says:

      No, it doesn’t make sense. There’s abundant evidence to suggest that only Harman had a full briefing before KSM was waterboarded (Jello Jay did not attend the January 2003 briefing that Pat Roberts got). So there’s just not that much complicity on the Dem side.

      • Leen says:

        What about memos or other classified info that has yet to be released. Are there other meetings that they are still unable to talk about?

        If the Dems have nothing to worry about why would any of them stand in the way of a Special Prosecutor? What is up with Reid?

  19. fatster says:

    Scorpions in a bottle:

    “Release of Bush-era documents that shed more light on the origins of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics has ignited a backstage battle between former Bush officials over a crucial May 2002 meeting that paved the way for use of waterboarding on a suspected al-Qaida leader.”

    (Hope this hasn’t already been posted.)…..rture_memo

    • bobschacht says:

      Yes, this article by Pamela Hess of AP is interesting. The Bushies are positioning themselves for the Battle of the Long Knives. I found this item particularly interesting:

      After Rice provided the critical authorization, formal legal approval for Zubayda’s waterboarding came a few days later in an Aug. 1, 2002, Justice Department memo. That memo was among the documents released by Obama, who has insisted that the U.S. will not torture, but also said he will not press for legal charges against CIA officials or a special congressional investigation.

      Days after that, the waterboarding of Abu Zubayda began. He would undergo the technique, now deemed torture by Attorney General Eric Holder, 83 times that month.

      Condi’s authorization here is deemed critical– but I’ll bet that she will counter that the CIA misled her. Zelikow will figure in this “debate,” as well. And don’t forget the parallel process over at DOD.

      Bob in HI

      • emptywheel says:

        Yes, you’re precisely right. As I said before, I think Bellinger was the WaPo source that said CIA didn’t tell the Principals Committee about the warnings against torture.

  20. bobschacht says:

    The human cost of Bush’s torture regime is worth remembering not only for its effects on the tortured, but also for its effects on the torturers. One particularly poignant example comes from the place that used to be my home town: Flagstaff, AZ:

    With each new revelation on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo, I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson.

    By Greg Mitchell

    I am reminded that someone described Dick Cheney as a very fearful man, and used that vantage point to explain a number of Cheney’s otherwise bizarre behaviors.

    ISTM George Bush (43) was also a very fearful man. After 9/11, when his administration was being pummeled for not “connecting the dots,” he responded like a fearful, uncertain leader with little knowledge of the world outside of America, and not much self-confidence in his own leadership ability. He wasn’t sure that he could “win” by playing within the rules. I think his life experience had taught him that the only way to win was to cheat. And his family had come to his rescue so many times that he thought he could get away with it. That’s a very dangerous combination.

    Bob in HI

  21. dotmafia says:

    I’m still wondering about the fire which occurred inside the Office of the Vice President (specifically, Amy Whitelaw’s Political Director’s office, so they say after first declaring it to have started in “a closet”) on Dec. 19 2007 at 9:15 a.m. — the same morning in which the New York Times revealed that four White House lawyers discussed the destruction of the torture tape evidence. David Addington was the chief of staff to this office. Co-incidence? They would have been tipped off that the Times was going to be running that story. What memos do you think were possibly destroyed? Evidence destruction seems to be their modus operandi after all.

  22. dotmafia says:

    To follow-up, I just read an interesting article in the New York Times by Frank Rich, in which he implies that the destruction of the torture tapes might have been to cover up the Bush “administrations” unsuccessful attempts to wrench out an al Qaeda-Iraq link in the lead-up to the war.……html?_r=1

  23. SparklestheIguana says:

    Did we know this? (I mean the part about the Greek philosophy, specifically.) From a Sunday WaPo article:

    [Khalid Sheik} Mohammed continued to be a valued source of information long after the coercive interrogation ended. Indeed, he has gone on to lecture CIA agents in a classroom-like setting, on topics from Greek philosophy to the structure of al-Qaeda, and wrote essays in response to questions, according to sources familiar with his time in detention.

    The other thing interesting to me is:

    “The detainee-supplied data permitted us to round them up as they were being trained, rather than just before they came ashore,” said one former intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the cases are classified. “Not headline stuff, but the bread and butter of successful counterterrorism. And something that few people understand.”

    Interesting because he’s saying torture worked, but not in the sense that it prevented ticking time bomb scenarios. It just worked in the sense that they could pick up other suspects more quickly.…..22_pf.html

    • bobschacht says:

      [Khalid Sheik} Mohammed continued to be a valued source of information long after the coercive interrogation ended. Indeed, he has gone on to lecture CIA agents in a classroom-like setting, on topics from Greek philosophy to the structure of al-Qaeda, and wrote essays in response to questions, according to sources familiar with his time in detention.

      This sounds like BS, made up out of whole cloth. Someone is into serious self-justification. “Sources familiar with his time in detention,” and “former high-ranking officials.” Yeah, right. According to people who are probably guilty of war crimes. Trying to make it look like KSM survived it all in good mental health, and is now a college professor. No harm, no foul, right?

      I would prefer an independent evaluation.

      Bob in HI

  24. Mary says:

    45 – EW had her own thread on that up first here:


    and she did the same “decoding” except that she fixed the July meeting refernence to Wainstein that was still in the Harper’s piece last I looked.

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