Goss Won’t Elaborate on Torture Techniques that “Were To Be Employed”

Almost four weeks ago, I pointed out that Porter Goss’ WaPo op-ed, purportedly attacking Nancy Pelosi, actually supported her primary contention that the CIA did not brief her and Goss that torture techniques had already been employed. It’s a detail that has gone almost unnoticed, as Republicans try to claim Nancy Pelosi should resign because Dick Cheney tortured.

But not entirely unnoticed. Greg Sargent has been patiently pushing for some clarification from Porter Goss. And today he got that clarification. Or rather, lack thereof: Goss has declined to say anything more than appeared in his WaPo op-ed, which (like Pelosi) speaks of torture prospectively. 

I asked a spokesperson for Goss if he would confirm that he and Pelosi had been informed of the use of torture. Goss was out of town, so it took her a while to get back to me, but now she has: She declined to answer the question, saying that Goss would not elaborate beyond what he said in a Washington Post Op ed last month.

In that carefully-worded piece, Goss did not write he had been told that torture had been used. Rather, he merely wrote that members of Congress were told that the CIA was “holding and interrogating” suspects and that EITs had been developed. He said that members should have “understood” that EITs “were to actually be employed” in the future, without saying that they were even told this, let alone told that they’d been used.

This does not contradict Pelosi’s claim that she was only told that such techniques were legal, not that they had been or certainly would be used — the crux of the GOP’s attack.

So I asked Goss’ spokesperson directly: Were he and Pelosi informed that EITs, including waterboarding, had already been used, and were they given a rough sense that Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded more than 83 times the previous month?

Her answer: “He believes that his Op-ed makes it very clear and is not engaging beyond it at this time.” She declined repeated requests to elaborate.

Thanks to Greg for getting this (ahem) "clarification" from the old spook.

Can we please start talking about why, in September 2002, the CIA was unwilling to brief Congress (as they were legally obliged to do) that they had been torturing people for over a month? 

41 replies
  1. Leen says:

    A long and bloody distance between “all ready” and “were” to be employed. Thanks to you and others for continuing to hammer on this.

    Ew do you think we are going to see a split screen today between Obama and Cheney? WTF is that all about?

      • TheraP says:

        Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out after going out to do an “errand of mercy.”

        I honestly think this will result in such an indictment of what happened to this man!

        There’s a neuropsychologist who comments at TPM – and I’ll await his judgment here. But I think this is just going to blow a whole lot of stuff out of the water!

        What a travesty of misdiagnosis by the psychologist and a miscarriage of justice!

        • Leen says:

          You also might be interested in the interview Amy goodman did with Phillipe Sands and Jane Mayer yesterday. Sands Cheney is a “war criminal”

        • freepatriot says:

          you’re doing a great job, and yer making us all look good

          but ya gotta be careful

          if you keep writing brilliant articles like that, we might have to promote you out of the peanut gallery Marcy’s gaggle, an put you on the front page somewhere

          then you would get devoted followers an all kinds of terrible stuff

          you might even end up on TELEVISION, or tempted by cocktail wienies

          thas why I cover up my brilliance by smiling a lot

          I live in fear of people lookin at me

          but I think the secret is out about you


          an how the hell has Mary avoided the spotlight ???

          she’s as brilliant as Marcy, an I get the idea that she has a real easy time producing those brilliant comments. I don’t think she needs to double check much of what she knows

          so why ain’t she a front pager ???

          If Mary had a blog, Marcy might have some decent competition

          No offense, tbogg, an the rest of the FDL headliners, Marcy and Mary two are just light years ahead of the rest of ya …

        • Leen says:

          Damn tootin! Mary, Thera P, Bmaz, WO, “brilliant” some of us tag along and throw peasant questions and views at them. Someone has to do it

  2. marksb says:

    Can we please start talking about why, in September 2002, the CIA was unwilling to brief Congress (as they were legally obliged to do) that they had been torturing people for over a month?

    Because 9/11 changed everything. Including the constitution.
    Because the President and VP said whatever they said, and their Handy Pocket Lawyers ™ approved, was the New Law.
    Because this was War.
    Because if you didn’t do what we tell you to do you were possibly treasonous and clearly due for a career change into food service.

    And seriously, there are a lot of very patriotic and conservative people in the military and CIA, right? So Cheney & Co. exploited their nature and called on their patriotic fervor. They used these guys for evil.

  3. rincewind says:

    The statutory basis of the requirement of CIA to report to Congress is 50USC314. I’ve worked my way through Marcy’s prodigious output (took forEVER!) plus everything that’s been posted on the GOS and other sites, and I haven’t seen any discussion of 314(a)(2):

    Sec. 413. General Congressional oversight provisions
    (a) Reports to Congressional committees of intelligence activities and anticipated activities

    (1) The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity as required by this subchapter.
    (2) Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed as requiring the approval of the congressional intelligence committees as a condition precedent to the initiation of any significant anticipated intelligence activity.

    Does this not say that Congress has only the right to be INFORMED? There’s no provision here for Congress to “consult”, “advise”, or even have a fucking opinion about what they’re told. There’s no statutory authority here for Congress to DO a bloody thing — they are passive spectators of this process.

    Am I reading this all wrong?

    (as far as I can tell, this language was NOT inserted in any recent amendments of the statute, but I haven’t done a legislative-history search on it)

    • skdadl says:

      I’ve tuned in too, but nothing seems to be happening yet … ?

      TheraP, I’m another one who’s interested in this topic for her own reasons, so I’ll be over to see you soon. And thanks for the additional link, Leen.

      Please excuse the OT, EW.

  4. Leen says:

    Diane Rehm show this morning. Victoria Toensing…what the hell?

    10:00The Challenges of Closing Guantanamo

    President Obama announces plans for the detainees still held at Guantanamo. Diane and her guests will discuss new questions and concerns from Congress about the administration’s plan for closing the detention facility.

    Elisa Massimino, CEO and Executive Director of Human Rights First

    Naftali Bendavid, national correspondent, Wall Street Journal author of “The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution.”

    Victoria Toensing, former chief counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. While serving at the Department of Justice Ms. Toensing created the Terrorism Section. She is now in private practice in Washington, D.C.

    David Remes, attorney in private practice, representing several detainees at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba

  5. Leen says:

    Counting home many times he will say need to “move forward” or the equivalent.

    How many excuses he makes for “above the law” choices

  6. Leen says:

    uh oh “keep the Americans safe” so we will not hold those responsible for starting a war based on a “pack of lies” and those who tortured will not be held responsible. Because I have to protect you.

    sounding more like Bush and Cheney everyday

  7. skdadl says:

    Oh. No. So far, it’s all 9/11, terrists, and keeping the nation safe.

    What ever happened to liberty? “All men are created equal”? (NB: That doesn’t say “All Americans.”)

  8. Leen says:

    “unless we enlist the fundamentals of our values” Bill or Rights, Constitution “not simply words”

    he is on it now.

    “to form a perfect union” “I took an oath to serve protect and defend the constitution”
    “our values have been our most important national asset”

    sounding better

  9. Leen says:

    “from Europe to the Pacific we have been the ones to shut down torture chambers”

    “motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people” “trimmed facts to fit ideological thinking”

    And those of us who did not fall silent before the invasion did not get any air time. Millions of us. Millions of us protested that fucking bloody war in Iraq. The MSM ignored us

    Obama is trying to make it a “collective failure” Bullshit

  10. frankly0 says:

    I find part of Greg Sargent’s argument to be confused.

    He writes:

    He said that members should have “understood” that EITs “were to actually be employed” in the future, without saying that they were even told this, let alone told that they’d been used.

    This does not contradict Pelosi’s claim that she was only told that such techniques were legal, not that they had been or certainly would be used — the crux of the GOP’s attack.

    But this makes no sense. If, in fact, the CIA communicated clearly that the techniques, including waterboarding, were “to actually be employed”, how does that materially differ from their communicating that they would “certainly be used”?

    And let’s even suppose that the CIA only managed to communicate that the techniques might well be employed in the near future. How would that create a difference from a moral point of view in Pelosi’s obligation to protest it, if she indeed objected?

    • emptywheel says:

      For starters, it means that Goss is not refuting Pelosi’s claim that the CIA lied when they said the techniques had not been used yet.

      You may be okay with that–with the CIA coming on September 4 and saying, “here’s something we might use, but don’t worry, we’ll let you know before we do,” after having spent a full month torturing a guy.

      I’m not.

      I’m not okay with the torture in general, but the fact that the CIA lied about it–which Goss seems to support–makes it worse because it suggests they were trying to get around notification laws.

  11. skdadl says:

    It is his tragedy that he feels forced to defend the most important values either in utilitarian terms or by making them sound like the more macho option. He is always looking over his shoulder, fearing the warmongers and tailoring his statements to them. I find that sad.

  12. Leen says:

    Obama…Some argued that waterboarding was not torture
    “they undermined the rule of law”
    “they risked the lives of our troops”
    “they did not advance our war or counterterrorism efforts”

    “leave these methods where they belong in the past where they belong”

    Jeremy Scahill: “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama”

    Jeremy Scahill reports the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes and dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal. [includes rush transcript]


  13. Leen says:

    “cleaning up something that is quite frankly a mess” “consumes the time of officials”

    Uh oh…more excuses…are we headed towards the “moving forward” push?

    “let me blunt no neat or easy answers here” “Pretend that this problem will go away” “I refuse to allow this to fester”

    Time to investigate and prosecute…get on with it Obama get on with it

    “I have no interest in re-litigating the problems of the last eight years, I WILL LEAVE THAT TO OTHERS”

    Obama “our courts are able to try and convict terrorist”

    giving examples

  14. Leen says:

    Obama “instead of using the flawed military commissions of the last seven years”

    o.k. lawyer folks is he spinning?

    “make sure that these commissions are fair (something else) and effective”
    “I can not ignore these rulings”

    Those detainees who pose a clear danger to the U.S.
    “these are people are at war with the United States”
    “these detention policies can not be unbounded”
    “a thorough process of review”

  15. Leen says:

    “fodder for 30 second” sound bites
    “if we refuse to deal with these problems today” will be an albatross around our necks

    Security and transparency “a delicate balance”
    “lives are at stake” released the memos

    Now we move into the NO photo release. “they have been held accountable”

    EXCEPT THOSE WHO ORDERED THE USE OF THESE METHODS. OBAMA WILLING TO ALLOW THE LITTLE GUYS AND GALS TO TAKE THE HIT. (how many are in prison for Cambone’s order to ’soften” prisoners up.


    As if there are not enough reasons for the people in Iraq and around the world to hate us. A war based on lies, millions dead, injured, displaced, thousands injured, rape in Iraq, no bid contracts. Holding those photos back only increases our distrust of Obama and who he is trying to protect those upline in the abuse of detainees, those who were disappeared, Obama does not want the world to know just how bad it was and who was responsible. this is pathetic

    Sorry Ew. I know I am ot. Will stop

  16. Leen says:

    Obama “I will never with hold the truth because it is uncomfortable”

    Ask those young people who were ordered to “soften” prisoners up if the truth about who gave them permission to “soften” up the prisoners have been held accountable.

    “strong desire to focus on the past”

    Niger Documents
    False pre-war intelligence
    Hello Obama the streets in Iraq are filled with American lives and the Iraqi peoples blood.

    “lay blame” WTF? Millions dead, injured, displaced. “lay blame” Complete Hogwash

    Wonder if the folks in Iraq are watching this?

    Sorry again Ew…sometimes I can not help myself

    • phred says:

      I hope EW doesn’t mind indulging you. For those of us unable to watch the speech, your commentary is enlightening. So I take it in the end it was more of the same b.s. we’ve been hearing for months… let bygones be bygones and criminals get to skate if they are members of the elite political class, right?

      • Leen says:

        Best forked tongue speech I have ever heard.

        Listening now to Cheney it is all “9′11,9/11,9/11,9/11″ The reasons we illegally and immorally invaded Iraq based on lies absolute fucking lies. And the reasons we tortured.

        Cheney’s message…Americans lives are more important than people who did not threaten or attack us. One million people dead in Iraq, injured, millions displaced means nothing to this psychopath. Nothing

        Cheney is a war criminal flat out.

        As Chris Matthews said “when will Cheney take his 19% approval rating and go home” He is asking to be held accountable

        • phred says:

          Listening to PapaDick? You have a much stronger stomach than I.

          Sigh. Another depressing day in the land where the “rule of law” is merely a nostalgic reminder of a bygone era…

  17. skdadl says:

    Leen, I only stopped because you were doing so well.

    I guess my problem with the better parts of Obama’s speech — and there were some — is my conviction that we can only grasp what has gone on and what is in many cases still going on by looking at particular cases and paying attention to detail, the method that is the standard that EW has set for this blog.

    The fine rhetoric that rises to a claim that torture has been stopped in all American facilities is just never going to stand up, eg, to one of Mary’s eloquent enumerations of what has happened and is still happening. All of us who follow and care about particular cases know that that gap continues to be a problem.

  18. Leen says:

    Cheney “out there for all to see, even the enemy”

    Cheney saying that waterboarding was only done to three people. Just admitted his crime.

    OMG Cheney blaming Abu Gharib on lower level soldiers. When will those soldiers come on out and fight back. When will they gang up and tell the truth. Who gave them permission, who gave them permission, encouraged the “softening up”


    Human Rights Investigator, Attorney John Sifton: Torture Investigation Should Focus on Estimated 100 Prisoner Deaths

    We get reaction to the Senate hearing on torture from private investigator and attorney John Sifton, executive director of One World Research, which carries out research for law firms and human rights groups. Sifton has conducted extensive investigations into the CIA interrogation and detention program. He says any investigation of Bush administration torture and rendition should include an estimated 100 homicides of prisoners in US custody. [includes rush transcript]

  19. Leen says:

    Cheney “Mass muderers” are still there. a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black

    When will this man go back to his bunker?

    “keep in mind that these are hardened terrorist”

    Cheney really discouraging Obama from bringing terrorist into the U.S. to face convictions.

    “if you do not want to call them enemy combatants fine”

    The overwhelming message in Cheney’s spin is to be very very afraid..be very very afraid. That whatever means they used was to protect Americans lives…don’t question the means to the end.

    “list all the things that is good about America” that is why they hate us
    ‘when they see us caught up in arguments about interogation methods” our enemies see weakness.

    Hope someone is counting how many times Cheney said 9/11. Has to be at least 20 times so far.

    Now saying that the enemies know what to train for. Well except the methods used by Soufan and others who are committed to abiding by International agreements.

    #####later have to go paint a roof

    • phred says:

      Thanks Leen — happy roof painting!

      BTW, delighted to see Cheney is hanging Tenet out… I trust Tenet will return the favor ; )

  20. Leen says:

    Cheney hanging Tenet out….
    More “9/11″

    This is his defense

    Hammering that there was no other attacks after “9/11″ So glad that folks are stepping up to the plate and saying that the Bush administration IGNORED RICHARD CLARKE’S WARNINGS….IGNORED.

    9/11 happened under their unwillingness to watch.

    weak weak speech

    • timethief says:

      That is the bigger truth. Bush/Cheney/Rice ignored the warnings by Richard Clark and did nothing to keep 9/11 from happening and then used it as an excuse to implement an oil and power grab. This was followed by brutal acts that abused and shredded the constitution. Nothing to be proud of here but a disgusting failure of leadership and misuse of the military.
      Ps I want spell check here

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