Did Abu Zubaydah’s Torture Begin After May 28, 2002?

I increasingly suspect that the torture index provided to ACLU may better pinpoint the day when Abu Zubaydah’s torture began. Here are they key datapoints.

April 13, 2002: CIA starts taping Abu Zubaydah interrogations.

April 16, 2002: Bruce Jessen circulates draft exploitation plan to JPRA Commander.

April 2002: CIA OGC lawyers begin conversations with John Bellinger and John Yoo/Jay Bybee on proposed interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah. Bellinger briefed Condi, Hadley, and Gonzales, as well as Ashcroft and Chertoff.

May 6, 2002: Interrogators send 28-page cable to HQ.

Mid-May 2002: CIA OGC lawyers meet with Ashcroft, Condi, Hadley, Bellinger, and Gonzales to discuss alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.

Mid to late May, 2002: Ali Soufan leaves Thailand after contractors threaten to confine Abu Zubaydah in small box.

May 28, 2002: CIA HQ sends 4 page cable to interrogators in Thailand.

Early June, 2002: Soufan’s partner, Steve Gaudin, leaves Thailand.

July 13, 2002: CIA OGC (Rizzo?) meets with Bellinger, Yoo, Chertoff, Daniel Levin, and Gonzales for overview of interrogation plan.

July 17, 2002: Tenet met with Condi, who advised CIA could proceed with torture, subject to a determination of legality by OLC.

It appears that, as MadDog suggested, that that May 28, 2002 cable may have been the written approval for contractor James Mitchell to start using the harsher forms of torture.

Here’s what I think happened.

First, it’s clear that Mitchell’s partner, Bruce Jessen, started circulating his exploitation plan at about the same time Mitchell took over the interrogation of AZ.  It’s equally clear that CIA’s counsel (presumably John Rizzo) started working with OLC (presumably Yoo) on formulating legal advice at about the same time. So in mid-April, you’ve already got the intent to use SERE techniques in interrogation.

Ari Shapiro described a process by which Mitchell wrote cables every night to get the next day’s torture approved by Alberto Gonzales.

The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

But a 28 pages would cover far more than the next day (the other cables are generally 2 to 5 pages long). So I suspect Mitchell wrote in requesting a whole range of torture techniques. And this would be roughly in the time frame of when, according to Ali Soufan, Mitchell’s team took over AZ’s interrogation for good, after some back and forth with the FBI being more involved.

So Mitchell sends his 28-page cable, CIA briefs Condi and others on the techniques they want to use–including waterboarding. And at the end of May, a 4-page cable comes back to Mitchell in Thailand.

Either just before or just after, the interrogators bring out the small box for Zubaydah, and Soufan leaves. (I’m inclined to believe that Soufan left later than the mid-May described by the DOJ IG report, which suggests he may well have left after that 4-page cable came back, which would mean the appearance of the small box was a response to the cable.)

Of course, if CIA HQ had an approval of significant torture methods by May 28, it means all the rest–the two months of negotiations with OLC to get an opinion approving torture–were just kabuki. But that’s what one of Shapiro’s sources is beginning to wonder.

"I can’t believe the CIA would have settled for a piece of paper from the counsel to the president," says one former government official familiar with those discussions.

"If that were true," says the former official, "then the whole legal and policy review process from April through August would have been a complete charade."

Consider this. CIA went to Congress after it had tortured and basically said it hadn’t started the torture yet and implied, then, that it was giving prospective notice. Is it possible that the negotiations with Condi and Bellinger were similar? After all, we have reason to believe Cheney and friends lied to Condi’s people much later in the debate, about what approval this had in Congress (as they intended to lie to John Ashcroft in the hospital room on March 10, 2004). Is it possible that when Bellinger and Condi asked for an OLC opinion, the CIA’s torturers were already hard at work, and it’s only because Bellinger asked for an opinion that they even bothered? If Gonzales was relaying daily approvals for torture directly to the torturers in the field, then why would it appear that Condi was the one who "approved" the program in mid-July? Why not Gonzales?

Obviously none of this should be surprising. But the May 28 document may well indicate whether or not the kabuki was kabuki even for some within the Administration.

84 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Tangentially related, I strongly suspect that Ari Shapiro’s source knew that that index of documents was coming and wanted to make sure that people understood what they represented. Without Shapiro’s story, we’d all be wondering how the approvals came back from CIA HQ. Now we know they didn’t, they came back from the WH. Shall we speculate on the identity of the source?

    I’ve maintained all along that every major misdeed by the Bushies preceded the legal justifications. I think Addington bullied Gonzales into approving all this stuff by claiming that one of those early OLC opinions covered everything.

      • emptywheel says:

        Of COURSE!!!


        The OPR report was worse than the torturers thought they could get away with bc OPR got some emails.

        Email, in spook-speak, is “cable.”

        THey got these cables, and Ari’s source is probably OPR.

        • phred says:

          So if I follow you, you think that the torturers didn’t expect the OPR report to be that bad, because they didn’t think OPR actually saw emails going back and forth to Thailand?

          I wonder why the torturers thought OPR wouldn’t get the emails. If they were among the disappeared emails, does that mean OPR managed to find copies even though the emails were “lost”?

          But, if OPR was just looking at DoJ lawyers and their “professional responsilbities”, and the emails were going back and forth between CIA HQ, the WH, and Thailand, how would any of those emails have found their way into the OPR report?

          • emptywheel says:

            That’s probably what the torturers want to know.

            Here’s a question I’ve got. CIA IG knew that the last waterboarding of AZ was ordered up from HQ.

            But we’ve got no email from HQ from that time period. Did they order it up verbally? THen who convinced the IG that that’s what happened?

            • phred says:

              I thought the last waterboarding was approved by WH, no? Honestly, I don’t know how you keep all of the details straight…

              Now I’m even more anxious to get a peek at OPR. If they have the emails you expect, I suspect that may raise as many questions as it answers… as in, why did OPR go looking for them and how did they find them? And if those emails were found, might other missing emails be found as well…

              • emptywheel says:

                Well, if you think about it, all the representations at the heart of the Bybee Two rest on the representations CIA sent back to Rizzo who sent them onto OLC. SO those cables are really important to get at the issue of AZ’s cooperativeness.

                So it’s not hard to come up with a question that would elicit emails. The question is how they were able to get them. CUriously DOJ appears to be one of the few places that didn’t have a massieve email failure during Bush (recall that State did too).

                • phred says:

                  Ah, that makes sense. They need to verify the premises of Bybee Two, ergo the emails are relevant.

                  But, your list of cables doesn’t include any between CIA and OLC, does it? So, if the emails to Bybee were forwarded from CIA so he could write his opinion, then copies would have been archived in the DoJ system. However, if such emails between CIA and OLC were sent, shouldn’t they be included in your list? Or might the CIA have decided they were already listed from their point of origin (Thailand), so they wouldn’t need to list them again?

                  • sailmaker says:

                    Maybe the NSA (Haynes et al) had blind copies of everything, and therefore copies that got forwarded from NSA to OLC (or anywhere) did not get registered in this log?

                    • phred says:

                      Perhaps but since the OLC memos were intended to be an ass covering exercise, I doubt they would risk exposing NSA snooping in the process.

                  • emptywheel says:

                    It’s a good question. Those emails should be considered derivative work off the content of the breifings. Unless somehow they shielded it.

                    They also woudl be responsive to the Amnesty/CCR FOIA, which shows emails back and forth relating (at least) to the 2005 memo. Dunno. Let me think about it.

            • phred says:

              As for your IG question… What if someone from HQ flew there? Then you wouldn’t need to send an email and it wouldn’t show up on your list.

      • NCDem says:

        A couple of questions… Have we ever seen the Jan 25, 2002 memo approved by Gonzales but actually written by D Addington? Sara had left you a note under the Scrapple diary with some comments from Philip Shenon’s book on the 9/11 Commission that confirmed that the directions came from Cheney but Addington actually wrote the Jan 25th memo. I would suggest that based upon other research that his source may have been John Bellinger. Remember that before 2005, he was the Senior Associate Counsel to the President and thus worked in the offices area with Gonzales. Addington thought Bellinger was a piece of dog sh-t.

        Most of the writing on the Jan 25th memo has centered on the role of the Geneva Conventions and how the Bush administration would dodge legal landmines. I would suggest that it went further and was used as a guide by Gonzales in the April/May, 2002 time frame once Zubaydah was having his SER tactics ramped up. I beieve that once we see this memo and compare it to the Yoo document from August, they will use the same language and rationales ( I refuse to call them legal analysis). When these two documents are then seen side-by-side, you will have a portion of the link between Cheney and the spoon feeding of the OLC by Addington. Even though Yoo had written extensively about the power of the executive, there was no one who could hold a candle to the extreme views on this subject like Addington.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Also, the other thing that’s coming is the OPR report and, per Whitehouse today, we definitely get to see it.

    I have not seen the OPR report yet, and do not know what changes, if any, there are from the original draft. That’s a good question, and it will be asked. Marshall Jarrett, the head of OPR, did promise Senator Durbin and I that it would be public, and it could be out any day now.

    • whitewidow says:

      Today would be pretty ideal if someone wanted the least attention for the release.

  3. emptywheel says:

    Here’s how Ari described his source:

    One source with knowledge of Zubaydah’s interrogations agreed to describe the legal guidance process, on the condition of anonymity.

    • sailmaker says:

      I wonder if Schapiro’s source could be Jack Goldsmith?? He would have been around (DoD /NSA with Haynes) and was writing opinions that said that Bushco should get their actions codified as ‘legal’, let congress know, and get off the hook for/from international prosecution. Just an idea.

      On another subject:
      A closer look at Shapiro’s article: the source with the money quote may not be the same as the source at the end that says that the WH counsel was not ordinarily in the business of giving advice outside the WH., nor may it be the same source as the ‘CIA wouldn’t accept a piece of paper as authority’ .

      One source with knowledge of Zubaydah’s interrogations agreed to describe the legal guidance process, on the condition of anonymity.

      The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

      A new document is consistent with the source’s account.

      The CIA sent the ACLU a spreadsheet late Tuesday as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The log shows the number of top-secret cables that went from Zubaydah’s black site prison to CIA headquarters each day. Through the spring and summer of 2002, the log shows, someone sent headquarters several cables a day.LINK

      I think Goldsmith (having only read his book) might be OK with characterizing what actually happened in March/April/May 2002, but he does not seem to me to be the type who would speculate about what the CIA might accept for authorization. JMO

  4. MadDog says:

    …Ari Shapiro described a process by which Mitchell wrote cables every night to get the next day’s torture approved…

    And since this is definitely Paragraph 3 material, where is the documentation going back to the FIELD on this? No sign at all from the log.

    I’d have a hard time believing that Mitchell would be dumb enough to accept verbal approvals over the phone, but perhaps he was. After all, he wasn’t really CIA. He was just a contractor, and perhaps he believed this is the way the CIA works. Nothing in writing, not ever!

    As a former Air Force officer, he should have known to demand documentation.

    And I do have to believe that if the daily approvals funneled through the CIA HQTRS, they had to have insisted on written documentation! I can’t imagine any CIA staffer willing to hang their own butt out on the line without specific approval in writing.

    And I did mean staffer! I can indeed see George Tenet being this stupid, but the odds on that are about even. *g*

    Gotta run now EW (and all). The family picnic is calling and I’ve got to help grab all the wood for the bonfire later this evening.


    • emptywheel says:

      Well, that’s why the May 28 response is so important. One of Ari’s sources say “piece of paper” from GOnzales. And any piece of paper, even from the WH, would be responsive to the FOIA.

      Before May 28 or just before, they were using nudity, sleep deprivation, food and noise stimulus. Ignoring how harsh sleep deprivation is, it wasn’t until almost precisely late May (per Soufan) when they got into the really harsh stuff.

        • scribe says:

          They’re at their best when browned, not charred, on the outside and molten on the inside.

          Takes a lot of practice to get to that level of marshmallow burning skill, but it’s worth it.

          Hot dogs, OTOH, I’m all about “burn the bad out of ‘em”.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      If they were from the WH, CIA wouldn’t have them. They could have gone directly from WH to Mitchell’s Hotmail account for all we know.

      • emptywheel says:

        Well, Mitchell wouldn’t have needed the document from Gonzo on his person. He likely didn’t have the kabuki August 1 memo, after all.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          He might have used them to browbeat the CIA personnel on the scene. Back when I was an IT contractor, I wasn’t above pulling out a copy of an email from the company president to get a recalcitrant employee to do what I wanted. I can just see Mitchell turning to somebody who said “hey, you can’t do that” and whipping out his copy of an email from Gonzales and saying, “Oh yeah, well this here authorization from the White F’ing House says I can. This is science, buddy, and you better step out of my way.”

          • DWBartoo says:

            You could put together a screen-play for a ’series’ that would make Jack Bauer look like a bumbling, ineffectual, piss-ant, two-bit, dim-witted hack, and probably educate the public more effectively regarding what is completely wrong and utterly ineffective with the ‘use’ of torture far better than any ‘Truth Commission’ our timid little ‘overseers’ in Congress could manage in a month of Sundays, WO.

            And you’d do it from a position of moral authority which would have Cheney and Addington, et al. sucking their teeth in fearful anticipation before the second episode hit the airwaves.

            And then, when the 2000-odd pictures of the real thing smack the public consciousness (if not conscience), as they, inevitably shall, there would be many fewer stupid, arrogant and ‘fashionable’ objections and ‘questions’ that the MSM would dare go warbling about and the whole of the Sunstein Doctrine would disappear faster than dog piss on a hot summer’s sidewalk at high noon.


      • MadDog says:

        True, but I can’t see the CIA being out of the loop on this. Mitchell was their contractor, and the CIA owned HVD interogations at that point.

        Still, one never knows, do one? *g*

  5. lysias says:

    The OLC torture memos read like documents written by people who knew the torture had already begun, and who were determined to state (and approve) just about any possible legal defense for it, no matter how strained.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. I’ve been meaning to do a post on what the Memos look like if you assume every time they said “you have told us” you assume that Yoo/Bybee knew that to be a lie. Because that’s what I believe to be the case.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        You mean the memos don’t say “you told us and we don’t believe a word of it, but we’re going to pretend we do”, because that’s what I read in them. Must be automatic macro expansion in my mind…

    • bobschacht says:

      Since Soufan doesn’t leave until mid-May, and because of his testimony, it seems likely that April and the first week of may were dedicated to conventional interrogation by Soufan & co. May 6 definitely looks like the pivotal day. But EW points out that

      …in mid-April, you’ve already got the intent to use SERE techniques in interrogation.

      That seems right.

      Bob in HI

  6. scribe says:

    You note:

    But the May 28 document may well indicate whether or not the kabuki was kabuki even for some within the Administration.

    Let’s not forget that there was one kabuki-meister above all others – Addington. Remember how he instigated Alberto Mora and the senior JAGs to put together all sorts of documents on detainee and interrogation policy at Gitmo, all the while having put another one through via Yoo and Haynes? In that instance, it was DoD’s checks and balances he was scamming. He did it rather adeptly, and that tells me it was practiced. I’d bet money he was running this episode of Potomac Valley Kabuki Theater 2000, too.

    • emptywheel says:

      GReat point. First he does it to Condi and Ashcroft Because really, why woudl Addington tell Ashcroft he was gonna torture? He was only the AG!

      And then he does it with Mora and the services.

      • Nell says:

        Was that Addington, though, with Mora? I thought it was just Haynes.

        Must go re-read JMayer.

        • skdadl says:

          I have a related question. Were Haynes and Rumsfeld at DoD clued in to the process at CIA the whole time it was happening? EW, I’m sure you’ve already taught us this somewhere back there, but I get muddled easily.

          In your Salon article on the 13, you called Haynes the “broker” between CIA and DoD (and OLC) in late July 2002, which I knew was right by then. But were he and Rumsfeld just always in the loop anyway?

          • emptywheel says:

            Haynes was always in the loop. Recall that he’s an Addington acolyte, and was part of Addington’s “war council.” So if in fact these thugs started torture and then went about getting OLC cover, he was in on the ground floor. He first asked Mitchell and Jessen for info in December 2001, and was the guy who pushed JPRA to make sure waterboarding was included in the July 26 packet to give to OLC so they’d have “scientific” cover for putting that through.

            But I’m not sure that Rummy was in the loop to the same degree. He seemed to just sign whatever they wanted, and they were compartmenting out some of DOD so the services wouldn’t balk (which they did in late 2002).

            And then Feith and Wolfowitz are different issues again.

            In any case, Haynes seems to have been the most in the loop on this kabuki.

  7. perris says:

    Mid to late May, 2002: Ali Soufan leaves Thailand after contractors threaten to confine Abu Zubaydah in small box.

    I don’t think that’s right, I think it was not “threatened”, I think they did it, I also think he witnessed hanging these people from the ceiling naked, that’s the way I read the interview

    • emptywheel says:

      Which interview?

      Here’s what he says in his testimony, which is ambiguous.

      Once again the contractor insisted on stepping up the notches of his experiment, and this time he requested the authorization to place Abu Zubaydah in a confinement box, as the next stage in the force continuum. While everything I saw to this point were nowhere near the severity later listed in the memos, the evolution of the contractor’s theory, along with what I had seen till then, struck me as “borderline torture.”

      I thought somewhere else he had said he saw the box, but it wasn’t used. But I could be wrong. I think I missed a few of Soufan’s more recent interviews.

    • perris says:

      here’s the quote;

      At one point, Soufan discovered a dark wooden “confinement box” that the contractor had built for Abu Zubaydah. It looked, Soufan recalls, “like a coffin.” The mercurial agent erupted in anger, got on a secure phone line and called Pasquale D’Amuro, then the FBI assistant director for counterterrorism. “I swear to God,” he shouted, “I’m going to arrest these guys!”

      that’s not a threat, that’s what it was for, no where does it say that wasn’t used as of yet

  8. freepatriot says:

    I got a point that I think will destroy dead eye dick’s call for the release of two classified memos

    there is a concept in civil procedure regarding evidence, and more specifically DESTROYED EVIDENCE

    if a party destroys evidence, that party loses the right to present that evidence, and essentially loses the right to contest comparable evidence being presented by the opposing party

    I’ve only encountered this concept in civil law, but I suspect that there is a similar concept in criminal law

    think about it

    dick cheney wants to relesase two selected memos about the waterboarding

    but the whole waterboarding process was recorded

    and those records were DESTROYED

    cheney can be seen as the party that destroyed the evidence

    so what do you lawyer types think ???

    I’ll suspend my shakespearian mindset about lawyers for a few hours while you guys discuss this


    • scribe says:

      There are similar principles in the criminal law, but I think you are roaming a bit far afield when you try to import them here.

      The shortest reason to explain that is “you have to prove that the thing you say was destroyed, existed in the first place.” Not as easy as you might think.

      Let’s keep our eyes on the puzzles at hand.

      • freepatriot says:

        I think you are roaming a bit far afield when you try to import them here.

        sorry, I’m not trying to import” them

        I shoulda added an Off-Topic disclaimer

        I’m just lookin for answers

        an I’d prefer if we called it “Ahead of the curve”, ie:

        I think you are roaming a bit far afield Ahead of the curve when you try to import them here

        I might be patting myself on the back a bit prematurely, but my shoulder already hurts, so why not …

        I think I just hit the “torture worked” argument outta teh park

        Dick cheney has no right to make that claim

        dick cheney destroyed the evidence that would allow us (and a jury) to make an honest evaluation of the evidence

        destroy the tapes, then present two selected memos that you choose to preserve ???

        EPIC FAIL

        sorry bout goin off topic, but I think I just hit cheney with a haymaker, and knocked his sorry ass right out of the ring

        an it’s in the innertoobz now, fly little idea, fly …

    • TheraP says:

      Your scenario may explain why the declassification was denied – due to ongoing litigation. (I may not have used the correct reasons, but that’s my recollection)

  9. TheraP says:

    This NY Times article (4/17/09) seemed to me to suggest some kind of authorization had been received very early on after AZ’s initial interrogation by the FBI:

    A C.I.A. interrogation team that arrived a week or two later
    , which included former military psychologists, did not change the approach to questioning, but began to keep him awake night and day with blasting rock music, have his clothes removed and keep his cell cold.

    The legal basis for this treatment is uncertain, but lawyers at C.I.A. headquarters were in constant touch with interrogators, as well as with Mr. Bybee’s subordinate in the Office of Legal Counsel, John C. Yoo, who was drafting memos on the legal limits of interrogation.

    The testimony by Soufan corroborates the earlier initiation of abuse as well.

    Not sure how this info from the Times fits with Gonzo’s involvement or whether a more accurate story is now emerging. But the escalating abuse surely happened before the OLC memos are dated.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. I’m making a distinction between the small box and the sleep deprivation because we can mark it externally as May time frame (per Soufan), and the other stuff, which started in mid to late April, per Soufan (and consistent with what Zubaydah said).

      Though Zubaydah’s version, of course, was told to ICRC without the benefit of his notebooks.

      • TheraP says:

        Here’s a WaPo account published that same day (as Times account above). Although they have the time frame wrong (calling it summer), look at how they describe the events:

        When the CIA began what it called an “increased pressure phase” with captured terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida in the summer of 2002, its first step was to limit the detainee’s human contact to just two people. One was the CIA interrogator, the other a psychologist.

        During the extraordinary weeks that followed
        , it was the psychologist who apparently played the more critical role. According to newly released Justice Department documents, the psychologist provided ideas, practical advice and even legal justification for interrogation methods that would break Abu Zubaida, physically and mentally. Extreme sleep deprivation, waterboarding, the use of insects to provoke fear — all were deemed acceptable, in part because the psychologist said so.

        I bet this fits with what you’re getting at.

        Limiting it to just 2 people. That might fit the moment you’re looking for. Corroboration from another source, in terms of events described, for the time line you’re suggesting.

        • cinnamonape says:

          The other was a psychologist.

          Of course, Jessen and Michell were psychologists. So one is the questioner…the other the torturer.

        • DWBartoo says:

          “… the psychologist …” —Mitchell …

          A multi-talented chap, for certain and, no doubt, a “multi-tasker”.

          But, clearly, he must have been absent the day that intelligence, meaning actual brain-power, rather than glib, manipulative propensity, was handed out.

          Talk about a weak link; one has to wonder just how far up the thought-chain this wunderkind operates. He’d sing like a canary, at his first opportunity, if any judge looked him in the eyes, while some dream-team attorney waxes eloquent about, “… the clear evidence of Doctor Mitchell’s professional competence, scientific rigor and standing within the professional community”.

          Especially were any truly competent, genuine psychologist, someone such as yourself, to have educated the judge and jury regarding what psychology and psychologists should, ethically and professionally, be about, assuming a certain professional society has belatedly bestirred itself sufficiently to be more than merely a rubber-stamp for depravity (for such it is) and deliberate, calculated abuse, the sole purpose of which is to destroy the psychological integrity of human beings, and made incumbent upon all of its members to behave in such a way as to … “first, do no harm …”

          • TheraP says:

            As you note the guy has dug a deep hole for himself . And your theory that he would sing is quite intriguing. After all, he played the tune bushco piped. So he might justt as wellplay the tune for DoJ too. Indeed, he must be a very, very weak link. I’ve even wondered about his willingness to flout the law by supplying assistance with the legal fig leaves.

            Dollar signs must have simply danced in his head. Leaving all reason behind. There is no way I believe the $1000 per day amount that’s claimed. I’ve got it pegged around $2500-3000 per day.

            I admit to having utter contempt for the man. He’s failed on many, many levels. Ethics being just one. He failed to adequately diagnose AZ. Well, how could he? He didn’t speak the language. He likely didn’t take into account his brain injury. He never questioned the writing of so many journals subsequent to that injury. He was just too eager for the $$$$$. I’m not a forensic psychologist. But I’m sure there are plenty of them, with a good grasp of ethics, who would make great expert witnesses on that aspect. Though I imagine that will never be necessary. He’s nailed himself to the cross of torture and the crawled right up onto the rack of experimentation. War Crimes both!

            So the question is. Will he survive to sing? Or have an unfortunate accident? Or commit suicide?

            Why do they not take some of these criminals into (protective) custody is beyond me.

            I wish there were a way to defrock a psychologist. He has earned it!

            • cinnamonape says:

              Dollar signs must have simply danced in his head. Leaving all reason behind. There is no way I believe the $1000 per day amount that’s claimed. I’ve got it pegged around $2500-3000 per day.

              If they were doing this in Pattaya, where there was a CIA “secure facility”, then I suspect that the contractors were living in top-notch resorts and mixing their sadism with sex. Pattaya is the red-light beach zone of Thailand, infamous for it’s sex trade in children.

  10. plunger says:

    Cheney clearly views himself as a force of nature, above Congress, above the law, above us all (with the exception of Kissinger, GHW Bush and David Rockefeller – at least here in this country). His powers were unlimited because he said they were. He told people to torture because no one could prevent him from it. He ordered fake terror threats when it was politically convenient, because he could.

    Who will stop him? The entire legal system has been corrupted, and blackmail is rampant. Congress is irrelevant – as they’re all being blackmailed on any number of levels. He acts like he’s still the President of the United States.

    Judging by Obama’s lack of convincing leadership to ensure that Cheney is held to account for his obvious crimes, it does appear that Mr. Cheney is still running the Shadow Government (under GHW Bush and David Rockefeller), and that its power is not yet diminished.

    Revealing the entire truth is the only chance we have to get our country back. It’s MUCH bigger than the torture issue.

    • esseff44 says:

      I agree that most all the officials we rely on are subject to various levels of blackmail. Congress cannot be depended on to bring Cheney to justice. He is free to keep spouting his dark side philosophy. His daughter has picked up every theme and tactic. Is she being groomed to take his place? He has managed to put Obama on the defensive and the press is making Obama looking to be the weaker. Obama wants to move forward and get re-elected. Cheney and Gingrich will not let him and the media is giving them more weight that Obama is getting.

      Cheney has come from behind the curtain and is no longer trying to keep up the pretense of who was making the decisions at the highest levels. I still contend the only decision Bush made on his own was to nominate Harriet Myers to the SCOTUS. Everything else that mattered had Cheney’s imprint on it.

  11. JasonLeopold says:

    Hey there folks. Check out this story from Newsweek dated April 27, 2002, published a month after Zubaydah was captured. It says that the interrogation of Zubaydah resulted in “two domestic terrorism warnings.”

    One concerned possible attacks on banks or financial institutions in the Northeastern United States. That warning appears to fit with repeated statements by Al Qaeda leaders about the need to attack the U.S. economy, a mission that Osama bin Laden himself touted in a recently discovered home video. Another tip from Zubaydah warned that Al Qaeda operatives could be planning attacks on U.S. supermarkets and shopping malls.

    Wonder if these “tips” came as a result of Zubaydah being tortured this early on. Ron Suskind, in his book The One Percent Doctrine, wrote that Zubaydah sent the intelligence community on a wild goose chase but I don’t believe there was a date attached to it.

    • plunger says:

      If that’s the same financial terror threat that purportedly included a bank in Manhattan, you’ll recall that after that knowingly false threat was disseminated, Bush sent his wife and daughter to that very building for a photo op just to show the public how brave they were in the face of what everyone except the Administration deemed to be an actual terror threat.

      Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say

      It’s just damn convenient to be able to pull these fake terror threats out of your ass when you need to change the subject in the press.

        • plunger says:

          You’re welcome. I never let that one go. Bush sending his wife and daughter into the building at the height of the supposed threat was the biggest “tell” I’ve ever seen. I don’t presently recall the other headlines of that moment, but I do recall the shit was hitting the fan, and this bullshit hit the fan at precisely the moment the fear of god needed to be put back into the noise machine.

          These bastards are completely transparent when you begin to comprehend that they are 100% evil lying sacks of feces – and that virtually everything they say is just the opposite of the truth.

          • JasonLeopold says:

            you know it’s actually important to remind the public about that kind of deception in light of cheney’s alarmist claims and lies yesterday.

            • plunger says:

              I do my best. I catch no end of shit for it for allegedly being “off topic,” but with these bastards, everything that occurred in the last decade is part of the same topic. It’s incumbent upon all of us to revisit the headlines related to every single bullshit fake terror threat, and connect the dots to the stories of the day.


              I know for a stone cold fact that the purported London terror threat (whereby alleged hijackers without passports were in imminent danger of blowing up a US-bound jetliner) was manufactured by Rove/AIPAC to bury the story of Lamont’s victory over Lieberman. They used the same smoke screen to float out a story they’d been holding back about US Submariner, Ariel Joseph Weinmann, a US sailor caught spying for Israel in a case as severe as the Jonathan Pollard incident. After the Forward came out with the story, quoting Mathaba, DOD operative and CNN talking head, Barbara Starr, comes out with the story that Weinmann (according to unnamed sources) had been caught spying for Russia! I laughed out loud. He turned over a laptop computer packed with US submarine nuclear info re: Iran to Israel, which has three nuclear capable submarines.

              At the height of the “London Liquid Bomb Threat” hysteria, another story came out that AIPAC had been denied in its efforts to have the Franklin/AIPAC spying case thrown out of court. That case links to the Scooter Libby case.

              It’s all about Israel. Everything is.

              Here are the other headlines from that same time frame.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What you seem to suggest is a kind of bureaucratic manipulation for which Cheney is famous. Cheney suggests, by lies or implications, to A that B and C have approved his plan. He suggests to B that C and A have approved it, and so on. He controls as much of the data flow and communications as possible, leaving say, the loophole for everyone that, “It’s OK if the lawyers sign off on it.”

    That’s a common decision making loop (and final checkpoint) in business, too. Except here, Cheney controls the last essential hurdle, the OLC opinions, that will paper over behavior he’s already sanctioned. He does that through Addington’s influence over Gonzales at the White House and the brighter, but more junior and ambitious lawyers at the OLC, like Yoo.

    I find it useful to remember that until the Libby investigation (after Ashcroft recused himself and Fitz was appointed) and trial, Cheney was untouchable.

  13. plunger says:

    Does this not sound like the biggest CIA/Cheney manufactured crock of shit you have ever heard?

    They said officials in New Jersey had been mistaken in saying on Sunday that some suspects had been found with blueprints and may have recently practiced “test runs” aimed at the Prudential building in Newark.

    Joseph Billy Jr., the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Newark office, said a diagram of the Prudential building had been found in Pakistan. “It appears to be from the period around 9/11,” Mr. Billy said. “Now we’re trying to see whether it goes forward from there.”

    Another counterterrorism official in Washington said that it was not yet clear whether the information pointed to a current plot. “We know that Al Qaeda routinely cases targets and then puts the plans on a shelf without doing anything,” the official said.

    The documents were found after Pakistani authorities acting on information supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency arrested Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, an engineer who was found to have served as a middleman in facilitating Qaeda communications. His capture led the C.I.A. to laptop computers, CD-ROM’s, and other storage devices that contained copies of communications describing the extensive surveillance.

    Mr. Khan had been essentially unknown to the United States as recently as May, according to information provided by a Pakistani intelligence official, who said the C.I.A. had described him to Pakistani authorities that month only as a shadowy figure identified by his alias, Abu Talha.

  14. plunger says:

    I found it:

    Workers stay positive, arrive at jobs as usual
    By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

    NEW YORK — Concrete barriers, machine-gun toting police and bomb-sniffing dogs greeted workers Monday as they arrived at five financial institutions reportedly targeted by terrorists here, in Washington, D.C., and in Newark, N.J.


    At Citigroup headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, there were twice as many journalists as police. Office workers who ate lunch on benches outside the 59-story tower said few if any colleagues stayed away because of the threat.

    Sonia Thomas, 32, a telephone operator, said the added security brought back memories of Sept. 11: “You don’t want to relive it literally or otherwise. You just say your prayers and hope for the best.”

    Anne Pisker, an information technologies specialist, said, “When you get to work and you’re told that your building is a target of Osama bin Laden, it is frightening.”

    Guards checked identification and examined bags. The building’s atrium, which houses shops and restaurants, was closed to the public. A column of more than a half-dozen police cars with their hoods facing the street lined the sidewalk on Lexington Avenue.

    Pataki and Bloomberg visited the building, as did first lady Laura Bush and her twin daughters. “I want to thank people for coming to work,” the first lady said. “I’m really glad to be here today.”

  15. plunger says:

    And here is the lead story that needed to be buried by a fake terror threat on the first weekend of August, 2004:

    UQ Wire: Sibel Edmonds Letter To Thomas Kean
    Monday, 2 August 2004, 4:04 pm
    Opinion: http://www.UnansweredQuestions.org

    Open Letter To Thomas Kean – Chairman Of The 9/11 Commission – From FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds

    August 1, 2004

    Thomas Kean, Chairman
    National Committee on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
    301 7th Street, SW
    Room 5125
    Washington, DC 20407

    • JohnnyTable70 says:

      While it didn’t happen the first week of August, remember that the Democrats concluded their convention on July 29, 2004. Without going into the minutiae of the polling data, which I leave to Nate Silver and others, my recollection was that Kerry-Edwards had a small lead in the polls immediately after the Boston confab. The main GOP talking point after the DNC was that Kerry had only a meager bounce, insufficient for any sustained traction.

      What I DO remember when the Aug. 2004 terror alert was announced was how incredibly suspicious it was. In retrospect it seems even more suspicious given the timing of the Edmunds letter to Kean.

  16. rincewind says:

    (if this has been discussed already, forgive me)

    Does anybody know what it means that 10 consecutive cables, from 2002-05-31 to 2002-06-03, are listed as From “FIELD” To “FIELD”? Would those be between two different field locations? or between different recipients at one location? or something else entirely? Is this field operatives comparing notes? A way to keep somebody out of the loop?

    • emptywheel says:

      I thought of several possibilities:

      1) the person at CTC who normally received these was traveling on the dates in question
      2) they were emailing details of AZ’s torture to someone else to double check his story (so to the interrogators of another detainee, to try to cross check what AZ was saying)
      3) they were writing to a Mitchell and Jessen person at another location

      No idea if any of those are right, just wildarsed guesses.

      • NCDem says:

        I’ll add one more possible explanation for field-to-field. It is possible that someone knew that the computer on which he was working was owned by the CIA and thus would not be allowed to leave the site. He may have been moving important docs to another account where only he had control and thus would have a get out of jail free card for the way things went down and who authorized it.

    • cinnamonape says:

      That was at the very time that Soufan had left and his partner, Steve Gaudin, was just about to leave. Maybe it’s information on what to do about them…or letting someone know that they are going or gone. “The snoops are gone. Send in KSM.” This could be more direct operational information, perhaps not relayed in by HQ.

  17. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    FYI: Sorry to leave another link here, but Larry Wilkerson is a guest on Hardball tonight and it’s strikingly consistent with this thread. Matthews asks Wilkerson about whether a detainee was tortured to [provide false claims to] lead us into war (4:16). Wilkerson agrees.

    Then Tweety asks when Wilkerson thinks this war was ramping up. At around 5:19 in the clip, Wilkerson’s information synchs powerfully with the hypothesis on this thread of Spring 2002.

  18. freepatriot says:

    an maddog, please include a pdf warning

    ya killed my browser

    don’t worry, the browser had it coming

    but still

    I like to kill them myself


  19. cinnamonape says:

    I graphed out the frequency and length of Cables on a Calendar and there are several patterns that emerge. One is that there is a daily cable with few exceptions (June 15, July 27, August 13, August 19 [this oddly bracketed by cable traffic of more than 25 minutes on the 18th and 20th] , September 2, September 19, September 29, October 12-13, Oct. 20 and 22, October 28, November 10 & 12). Which three exceptions (August 19th, Sept. 19th and Sept. 29th) these come in general lull-cycles of traffic.

    For the most part the initial Cable is brief for any given day. Usually just a couple of minutes long. Some exceptions to this are May 14th,19th,23rd [13 minutes- all of these are around the time of the conflicts with the FBI]; June 2 and 5 [around the time Gaudin leaves]; August 11th and 20th; October 7-8; November 16-19; 21-24 [the latter interrupted on the 23rd with only a 2 minute cable] and then late November -early December with all longer “opening cables” (with oddexception on the 28th -with no other traffic- and 30th~ with lots of subsequent traffic + MEMO].

    Looking at the pattern of these cables shows definite peaks and lulls. There is moderate activity from April 15…reaching a peak on the 21st. Then another peak on the 27th (a day off), then another on the 29th (a day off) then another spike on Mayday. Peak again on May 5…with a long cable [28 pages] the next day. Then on the 8th another spike in traffic (6 cables). May 15th spike-one day “rest”- then another spike on the 17th. Two days reduced…then another spike [20th]. Two days reduction…then another spike on the 23rd; low cycle of two days- then another peak on the 26th, low one day – the another peak (although that was mainly the cable from HQ to Thailand).

    This cycling continues until June 12th when the traffic drops down considerably (a small peak on the 19th). On August 4th a 59 page handwritten log book occurs, but things remain sedentary until mid-August where there is a brief increase in activity. Then theres another lull until around the approach of the 1st anniversary of 9/11 until October, when communications drop again. Then it picks up again in Mid- and Late November.

  20. Jeff Kaye says:

    Note: while Jessen’s Draft Exploitation Plan was written in April, 2002, the first appearance of operational SERE “countermeasures” to Al Qaeda “resistance” (that we know of) was written in early-mid February, and circulated to top brass at JFCOM. Then, on March 8, Jessen and Witsch made a powerpoint slide presentation of their techniques to DIA. From this experience, Jessen began preparing a more intensive “curriculum” of the training, and its from this that the later draft plan was probably drawn. That means that the Exploitation Plan was well underway before Mitchell even went to Thailand, and the higher brass, not just JPRA, were involved.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, I know that. But I’m interested that a plan for implementation–one which Jessen did not write on his own–was being sent out just as they were implementing tihs was happening in Thailand.

  21. Jeff Kaye says:

    I understand.

    Here’s another tidbit for your timeline, which may or may not be relevant. I’m speaking of the May 2002 SERE Psychology Conference, held at the SERE White Bluff facility near Fairchild AFB. This is the conference where Ogrisseg presented the findings of his study, and of which he was “reminded” when asked by Baumgartner for info on effects of SERE exploitation techniques. These conferences typically include “observers” from CIA, FBI and DEA. I can’t say there’s any connection, but something to keep in mind.

  22. Rayne says:

    Question: do we have a prime example of a 3-to-5 page cable, one which is declassified? Can we look at how much actual content — down to the number of bits — such an example contains?

    My gut tells me that a 28-page cable contains actual reporting results, not just a wash list of what procedures are desired, or of justifications for using them. Seems like we should be able to pull one of the existing memos, perhaps one of Bybee’s docs, and look at how much info one of his memos contains for comparison. Both the Aug. 2002 and Oct. 2002 memos are about 50 pages in length, are dense with legalese, citations and footnotes, likely contain about 2X the amount of content per page that a cable might contain per page.

    Do we have any declassified emails/cables/other communications containing the content from an interrogation for comparison?

    rincewind (53) — If as Marcy thinks these are not just cables but email communications, then FIELD and HQTRS are potentially not single addressees but names of distribution lists.

    For the geeks out there, I could see this looking like a PROFS communique forwarded to recipients on a Lotus Notes or Exchange mail system. (And as I pointed out earlier this week, how convenient that the OA did not fully migrate to Exchange until 2003. How equally convenient the missing emails documentation could only begin Jan. 1, 2003…)

    • JohnLopresti says:

      I wonder if Crew has some tabbed documents which are not on their website, from the early part of their work in 2007 attempting to develop a picture of the rollout of MSExch. That one seems mundane, but there might be others.

  23. Jeff Kaye says:

    Another word, if this thread is still being noticed. I strongly suspect the “cables” from Mitchell were not simply requests for greater and greater use of force or “new” techniques to use. This doesn’t make sense, given the number of cables. Instead, what was likely transmitted by Mitchell each day was a log of the past 24 hours, such as we already have seen in the Al Qahtani case. At the end, there was likely a suggestion re what “themes”, i.e., techniques might be used the next day, based on an assessment of what was working, what wasn’t, and the input of psychologists and interrogation analysts besides Mitchell, who were assessing the progress of the interrogation. The cables back might include a relevant discussion of the assessment, and suggestions for further “themes”, or techniques to be used, probably in some intricate detail.

    Here is an example of what such a log might look like, from the Al Qahtani interrogation log (as published by Time):

    26 November 2002
    0400: SGT R wakes detainee- MPs take detainee to bathroom- he is searched and cuffed
    to chair. Detainee takes a couple sips of water. SGT A advises detainee that a
    bottle of water is much easier than a bag.
    0405: SGT A begins by quoting a verse from Qoran. Detainee is awake, but completely
    0425: SGT A uses “ Manchester Document” theme, explains to detainee how he uses
    interrogation resistance techniques. Detainee is unresponsive; he has yet to speak
    a word. SGT R makes detainee stand up to avoid sleeping.
    0430: SGT R states that because he (SGT R) is such a kind-hearted guy, he’ll let
    detainee sit down, but detainee will stand again if he falls asleep.
    0440: SGT R makes detainee stand again to avoid sleep.
    0445: SGT A explains how detainee is not mentally sick, he simply feels guilty.
    0457: SGT R allows detainee to sit down.
    0505: SGT A tells detainee that no one feels sorry for him; he has brought this on
    himself. Detainee takes two sips of water. Corpsman checks vitals. Guards take
    detainee on walk to wake him up. Detainee has not spoken a word.
    0515: Detainee is returned to chair. SGT A gives Arabic greeting detainee returns it.
    Detainee says he’s mentally sick. SGT A explains to everyone in room how
    detainee is using Al-Qaida handbook. Corpsman rechecks vitals.
    0545: Detainee is stood up for 2 minutes to avoid sleep.
    0550: SGT R makes detainee stand up to avoid sleep for two minutes.
    0555: SGT R makes detainee stand up to avoid sleep.

    I am almost certain this is what happened. The log goes to CTC, where a psychologist and various analysts discuss. In AZ’s case, a summary is included for non-professionals in the WH or NSC who are micro-managing the case. Many eyes are on this case for a number of reasons: they want the (false) confession re Iraq, they want intel on Al Qaeda, and they want to see how the new outsourcing of interrogation of “high-value detainees” by JPRA contractors is proceeding.

    FBI derides the “unprofessionalism” of the latter, because they are being pushed out. FBI is not engaging in purely “rapport-building” interrogation. The use of more and more aggressive physical techniques by JPRA also appears totally self-defeating to the “professionals” of FBI and some CIA, too. But someone high up is backing the new JPRA chain of interrogation command, and FBI and the dissident CIA interrogators must stand down. Soufan complains to his superiors, but the complaint doesn’t really go anywhere (reminiscent of Mike Gelles, who complained at Guantanamo, but besides Mora, the complaint stalled at higher levels).

    • emptywheel says:

      I disagree.

      First, we have the logs already listed, the 100-some page one started (probably) in early April, and the 59-page one in August.

      Also, we’ve got descriptions of what these are and aren’t, and they are not described as what you say they are–and definitely not summaries, which by agreement have been left from this document dump.

      So the evidence really says they are what they say they are.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that, Jeff. Would be nice to see how one day’s worth of log info lays out on an actual cable page. Does the above info you excerpted, for example, consume 3 pages?

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