Leon Panetta: I’ve Got to Protect the Contractors from Unwarranted Invasion of Privacy

Well here’s a really really telling passage from Leon Panetta’s declaration on why he can’t turn over the torture documents to the ACLU.

Information concerning the names and titles of CIA personnel, and information concerning CIA organization, functions, and filing information, has also been withheld from the documents at issue based on FOIA Exemptions b(1) and b(3). Names and identifying information of CIA personnel, and CIA contractors and employees of other federal agencies involved in clandestine counterterrorism operations, also has been withheld on the basis of FOIA Exemption b(6), as the disclosure of such information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.1

1 As described in the attached Vaughn index, 62 of the 65 documents at issue contain names or identifying information of Agency employees or personnel involved in clandestine counterterrorism operations. [my empahsis]

And sure enough, every cable from the field includes this dual invocation of FOIA exemptions to protect the identities of those involved in torture.

Exemption b(3) … This document also contains information relating to the organization, functions, and names of persons employed by the CIA that is specifically exempted from disclosure by section 6 of the Central Intelligence Act of 1949 … and thus is protected by Exemption b(3).


Exemption b(6) – This document also contains information relating to the identities of personnel engaged in counterterrorism operations, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The public interest in disclosure of this information does not outweigh the harm to the individual whose privacy would be violated, and thus the information is protection from disclosure by Exemption b(6).

They can’t protect James Mitchell and his crowd by invoking the CIA Act of 1949, of course, becase the guys in charge of the torture weren’t employees of the CIA. So instead, they’re invoking privacy protection that even the CIA seems to think might be dodgy.

And curiously, this is not what they have done in the past. Compare what appears in this Vaughn Index with the FOIA exemptions invoked for this set of apparently similar documents from 2004. Like a lot of cables in this series, Document 55 is a clandestine cable from Field to HQ. Yet it only invokes b(3) to protect identities, not the more general b(6) to protect the privacy of individuals involved.

In addition, this document contains information about CIA official titles, internal organizational data, and names that are properly withheld under exemption b(3), pursuant to section 6 of the of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949.

In a world in which our own government is using contractors to conduct unwarranted invasions of our privacy, there’s something utterly perverse about our own government then inventing FOIA exemptions to protect contractors from "unwarranted invasion" of their privacy.

107 replies
  1. timethief says:

    Perverse is right. Why do you think Panetta is working so hard to keep this information under wraps? I always thought he was one of us or sorta.

  2. Mary says:

    Makes you remember back when the GITMO detainees names were being withheld to protect their privacy —- not to prevent there being a list from which Article 147 war crimes could be compiled of course.

    I kinda wonder if, all that telecom “good faith reliance” crap notwithstanding, there’s a dawning awareness of the fact that the OLC opinions can’t be issued for reliance by non-gov persons/entities.

  3. JThomason says:

    This protection is not about a legitimate contractual procedure or term. Contracts for illegal purposes are not enforceable at law. This is about a kind of omerta.

    • savannah43 says:

      Just something to think about. SCOTUS has been “stacked” as they say, for years now. Remember the election of 2000? When GWB was appointed to the presidency by the Court? Who will ultimately decide whether a contract is illegal or not?

  4. TarheelDem says:

    In the aftermath, whatever it may be, at least Panetta can’t be accused of not making his best argument given what he had.

    May he be slapped down quickly and hard.

  5. Palli says:

    God damn! literally. These street thugs and pseudo scientists hijack the CIA and the military and are protected! Is anyone in government thinking of the common good and the future?

    • Rayne says:

      These “street thugs and pseudo scientists” did not hijack the CIA — unless by street thugs you are referring to the Cheney-bots.

      The pseudo scientists were willingly given the keys and a nice daily stipend.

  6. maryo2 says:

    Exemption b(6) also says “and employees of other federal agencies involved in clandestine counterterrorism operations”

    Wasn’t Doug Feith some sort of under secretary of state while he was directing the torture? Is the State Department an agency?

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know about that, depends on the scope of the term “operations”; weren’t people in the Dept. of Interior involved in some of the contracting process? Could there be more agencies or departments involved?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Agreed, the reference is to special forces.

      17 – Were there subordinates at Mitchell-Jessen? My understanding is that they would want to protect the man or men who were running Mitchell-Jessen, i.e., their superiors, who may have been contractors at this point, or not. The reality, and I’ll have to finally write up my piece on this, is that the world M-J came from is a whirligig of a merry-go-round of spooks, special forces, military, civilians working for the military, and “outside” contractors (such “outside” contractors being really all the above who have changed hats for financial and counter-intelligence related purposes).

      20 – If there were contractors besides M-J, we know they could have come from places already identified, like Titan, or perhaps other places, not so well-known outside the milieu, like Tate, Inc. Note that the head of Tate, Inc. was also one of the governing authorities, at least on paper, for Mitchell-Jessen. Is the picture getting any clearer?

      If we think about what the contractors were really doing there, we can begin to reconstruct what happened and what they are covering up. A new torture program was being implemented. Called up originally by Special Forces and/or CIA (likely both), calling upon their buddies at JPRA/SERE, who taught them all about torture to begin with, now called upon to provide operational guidance. But this is not in their “charter”, so the whole business has to be moved to the private sector. And there is already a slew of money-making companies in place, who have been sucking the public’s money contracting for special forces, recovery ops, etc.

      Problem is, some of the main individuals involved still have careers, military pensions they don’t want to lose, etc. The way it worked out was messy. Then there were those in CIA especially who resented what was going on (also in FBI), so there was some bureaucratic warfare to make things even messier. Meanwhile, Cheney and the NSC types are jumping down their throats to get that goddamn info that will nail Saddam to the Al Qaeda tree. If you add in the psychological barbarity and the explosion of sadism inherent in such a lawless situation then you have a recipe for the satanic brew that was mixed up in a Thai (or whereever) prison.

  7. JimWhite says:

    Dang, this snippet about protecting the contractors just set off a thought for me that gives yet another parallel between the warrantless wiretapping cover-up and the torture cover-up. There is strong reason to believe that the telecoms were given retroactive immunity in part because when they first signed on to the surveillance, they were given full indemnification from the government. Could a similar indemnification be in play here for the torture contractors? Is Panetta hiding them because they have government-guaranteed immunity anyway and he definitely doesn’t want that revealed in court?
    [Apologies if someone else already floated the idea and I missed it.]

    • Mary says:

      Yep. And under Totten, if it was a secret agreement neither the Contractors nor the Telecoms can actually go into court to protect such a thing, but you get it would come out in some way if they weren’t protected.

    • ThingsComeUndone says:

      Maybe the CIA is trying to protect Blackwater from civil lawsuits, Prince’s family is rich.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Could a similar indemnification be in play here for the torture contractors?

      Well, wouldn’t whomever signed off on the indemnification be liable if your theory is right?

      • JimWhite says:

        Well, wouldn’t whomever signed off on the indemnification be liable if your theory is right?

        Why do you think Cheney has been working the press so hard lately?
        [How do I indicate 50% snark?]

  8. LabDancer says:

    It’s a perversity of graymail.

    If the context in which this information is being sought was a criminal prosecution, then the analogy to Panetta’s filing would be a concession that graymail is in play. But the exercise to deal with that is turned on its head here: the government isn’t fighting the release of information, classified on a theoretical construct that classifying it better protects the public, from abuse by someone already charged with breaking the law standing on his constitutional rights in defending himself; instead, the government is fighting the release of such information from exposing itself to criticism for never having prosecuted.

    • JThomason says:

      I am not sure that with a new administration that the “government” as such is susceptible to the criticism you suggest. That there was a movement to protect Bush operatives for their illegal excesses was made loud and clear by the passage of the MCA. The corruption of the CIA has left it exposed to the potential of complete breakdown in the face of international opinion. Obama again and again acts to insulate and protect what is left of the organization but who is asking at what cost? The analogies to the Russian model are unavoidable.

      • LabDancer says:

        I’m not quite sure what you’re driving at here. It seems pretty clear this new president is inclined to deal with the institutional resilience of government agencies by prioritizing.

        • JThomason says:

          You point well to the crux of the issue. The KGB after all survived the fall of communism quickly displacing emergent financial operators and depending on their established methods. Certainly the move toward a somewhat comprehensive disclosure of the torture regime depends on differing historical forces but suddenly with Panetta’s reticence and the move too of Graham and Lieberman in the Senate today the reactionary spirit yet stirs. I do not know how it all shakes out and of course hope to be standing on the right side of history (martyred or not) but contrary to the legal fiction, in fact,institutional bodies are not necessarily eternal, the Catholic Church apparently notwithstanding.

  9. plunger says:

    “A former senior CIA manager said the message of the Panetta appointment was clear: ‘The message is, ‘I don’t want to hear anything out of the CIA. Make it go away. No scandals. Keep it quiet,’ the former officer told me. ‘They put over there a guy who is a political loyalist, who will keep everything nice and quiet, but who won’t know a good piece of intelligence from a sh–ty piece of intelligence, and wouldn’t know a good intelligence officer’ from a bad one.’”

    Source: Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com

  10. maryo2 says:

    It seems improper for contractors to have equal legal footing as US military special forces personnel. It would make more sense for CIA agents and US military special forces personnel to have equal footing, and contractors to have less footing.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One thing this attempts to keep private is the extent to which the government has outsourced “intelligence” activities, not just to Mitchell and his ilk, but across the board. Purportedly 70% of its budget goes to outsiders. As with mercenaries, that make up half of the boots on the ground in Mr. Bush’s wars, it’s not only what they do that counts, but who’s doing it.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, and remember that KSM, at least, said his interrogators seemed to be from other countries. I don’t think they were at this stage, but they may have been.

      • plunger says:

        My assumption is that they are far less concerned about the personal identities of those at the operational level, than they are about the personal identities at the command level (military, intelligence & political), and not just from the United States, but leaders from the various other countries involved. These cables would demonstrate the nature of the black programs, and the cooperation between the leaders of the various countries involved, all of whom Cheney had on speed-dial.

        How much of our treasure was handed over to foreign leaders to coerce their cooperation in torture?

        As for the carve-out of a special legal loophole for “contractors,” ensuring that all of their actions would remain “above the law,” it reminds one of a certain VP who carved-out a niche for himself that was neither executive, nor legislative – an island above the law.

        Got pattern?

      • Rayne says:

        Agreed, there are reports of interrogators and/or guards with English and Spanish accents.

        We also can’t account for translators’ backgrounds, likely contractors, too.

            • ThingsComeUndone says:

              Yes and I think the Chicago School Boys that ran Pinochet’s economy also created our current Iraqi economic policy.

            • cbl2 says:

              Does that count?

              raises the spectre of a Negroponte connection – well at least among the more tin foiled among us

  12. Rayne says:

    There has to be more to the identities and privacy issue than meets the eye.

    Mitchell and Jessen are nearly household names; they’ve been discussed in media outlets. They’ve become public figures now. There’s nothing to protect.

    So exactly who is being protected? Were there subordinates at M-J’s organization, or did these guys do all the dirty work?

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, first of all, Jessen probably wasn’t there, so there were probably other MJ employees there.

      But I don’t know that it has to be more than that. THe confirmation that it was contractors that did this is very very recent–really tied to leaks that came out of the SASC report in summer 2007.

      And I’m certain the CIA still considers that highly classified information, not least bc of the legal issues that Mary raises. That’s one of the reasons I find this so stunning–this is actually pretty close to confirmation that there were contractors there. WE know it, but the CIA likes to pretend we don’t.

      • fatster says:

        Is there a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a copy of the boilerplate contract they use for such purposes? No identities involved, so a moot point.

      • Leen says:

        I thought Karpinski said that she had seen foreign contractors at Abu Gharib


        uly 8, 2004 – Further evidence of the presence of Israeli operatives in Iraq arose this weekend when the general formerly in charge of the US-run Iraqi prison system, herself considered partly responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib and other prisons under her command, told the BBC that she met an Israeli interrogator working in a US-run “intelligence center” in Baghdad. Brigadier General Janet Karpinski told BBC Radio in an interview on Saturday that she met with a man who claimed to be Israeli and that he “did some of the interrogation” at the facility.

        Karpinski is the highest-ranking official to confirm an Israeli presence in Iraq. As the head of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Karpinski was responsible for all of Iraq?s 17 US-run prison facilities. She was suspended in May for her role in the systemic torture carried out by personnel

        …Did Stephen Cambone travel from Gitmo to Abu Gharib to tell the military to “soften up” the prisoners

        Same article
        “In relation to the presence of Israeli interrogators and contractors working within US prisons in Iraq, the torture report by General Antonio Taguba refers to “third country nationals” involved in the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq. A company at the center of the scandal, CACI International, has extensive links to the IDF and Israeli military intelligence”

      • klynn says:

        & cinnamonape @ 97

        I think Panetta is in murky water by stating CIA contractors in his declaration.

        The contractors were likely BPA (Blanket Purchase Agreement) no-bids. Despite the fact that there are “best practices” attributed to the BPA contract process, the no-bid element has allowed for a great deal of secrecy to begin with, as the by-product of the beast (which I see as a feature, not a bug – think Duke Cunningham). But there should not be anything (legal vehicle) to protect BPA no-bid contract workers for the US gov from illegal activity according to Federal law and stated BPA contract language. The contracts are loaded with liability language, especially if there is misuse of equipment or inappropriate actions by the contractor which result in harm to others or property.

        I am hoping to get my hands on copies of BPA contracts for Military, State and Intel related contracts. Many, however, were no-bids through Interior and State and the language is pretty clear irt liability for misconduct by the contractor. I am only finding “sections” of contract language online.

        To the legal folks, would there be an opening for Hellerstein to go after the contractors due to contract language? Panetta cannot protect the contractors in this regard can he? It’s the ol breaking the law in the name of the US vs secrecy correct? That puts Panetta in an interesting position. How can we protect contractors if the BPA has specific liability language regarding harm? And does any CIA form contractors signed for protection overide the liability agreed upon in the BPA? The BPA liabilty existed first and the no-bid could not happen without the BPA?

        IANAL but it seems like a showdown between contractor liability in terms of US tax payer accountability vs gov playing secrecy with the contractor liability of breaking the law/breaking the liability portion of a gov contract.

        Just thinking out loud…

        • Rayne says:

          There’s the possibility that some of these contracts were not with CIA or with military; there’s also the possibility that the contracts were part of highly compartmentalized programs (see SAPs and ACCMs), with some of them possibly being rolled into these programs after the fact in a retroactive manner, a la retroactive reclassification. So don’t be too surprised if you run into a brick wall with finding the contract terms.

          Still watching this movie ‘Standard Operating Procedure’; they’ve mentioned OGA’s (other governmental agencies) a number of times along with MI (military intel). Have to wonder whether contracts might not exist at all for some alleged contractors because they weren’t contractors but members of OGA under a front.

          • klynn says:

            I agree with you to some degree; however, we know currently that Mitchell and Jessen were a no-bid routed from defense to the Dept of Interior via a Blanket Purchase Agreement with Interior Dept. We also know that the CACI was a BPA no bid funneled through a BPA held at the State Dept.

            With that in mind, I think there are violations of liability terms stated in the BPA’s.

            • Rayne says:

              Can we get to the actual payment records? can we see the services invoiced and the money paid out? My gut tells me there’s more than just two BPAs from these two departments — I mean, why did they have to run these through these departments and not DoD?

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Please get back to us with what you discover. At the least, send me an email when you get more info at jeffkaye at sbcglobal dot com.

          Much thanks.

          • klynn says:

            I’ll do my best. It’s like pulling teeth to get some of this. A while back in a post, two or three weeks ago, I did have some links to statements of this being the routing of the Mitchell/Jessen (a DOD no bid that was via a Blanket Purchase Agreement through the Dept of Interior) and something about CACI contract being set up in a similar fashion (no-bid through a BPA via State). I’ll go back and try to find those. But as for contracts or contract language, it may take some time.

  13. Jkat says:

    hmmm .. clandestine .. “secret or hidden” .. so ..once it’s blown wide open ..it’s no longer hidden or secret ..

    i truly hope there’s a judge out there somewhere who’s getting fully fed up with this spook version of where’s-the-pea .. and he throws the damn book at ‘em ..

    it’s secret .. but everyone knows about it .. but wait .. it’s secret ..but it’s been documented in the snoozepapers .. but it’s secret.. and we can’t talk about it .. or reveal it .. george orwell had nothing on this bunch ..

    i’m going to have to bone up on my twiddledee and twiddledum if this goes on much longer ..and nope i don’t buy the contractual “immunity and confidentiality” bit .. you can’t contract for an illegality .. and you certainly can’t use contract law to cover criminal actions .. nor can you contract for an immoral act .. [well yes ya can .. but such a contract isn’t binding on or enforceable in a court of law ..and it certainly could be permissible to tell the court “we can’t reveal the info to you because person committing these crimes has contractual immunity and contractual anonymity….

    i hope the judge slaps ‘em up against the wall …

  14. JThomason says:

    W has taken to ruin the mighty house of Thebes that once was the CIA. Who could have seen it coming?

    • whitewidow says:

      I dunno, they have a pretty long history of ineptitude, fuck-ups and massive blowback. They were capable of embarrassing themselves long before GW came along.

      • LabDancer says:

        I’m thinking your inter-typolator was referring to a certain king of that place, fellow by the name Oedipus, and a curse on his poppy that couldn’t be lifted until it’d worked through the whole family line.

  15. JThomason says:

    The contractors are just a another “firewall” intentionally built into a strategy that was knowingly taken beyond legal, constitutional and international norms seeking extra-jurisdictional havens.

  16. JThomason says:

    The jig was up for the rule of law at that point in time that the phrase “I do not recollect” became the silver bullet in the arsenal of plausible deniability.

  17. Mary says:

    And what the contractors actually did is also still fuzzy. The NYT article focusing on Deuce makes it seem that the CIA interrogators tried to channel Pilate. They would have the discussion then, knowing full well what would happen if they certified their interviewee as uncooperative for not telling them what they wanted- but washing their hands of it, the would make that decision and leave. T

    hen the torture sessions would start and the interrogator would come back, sometimes days later.

    But what about the Contractors? I think they probably would have been reviewing the torture sessions hands on, asking for things they could do in them, etc – more so than the CIA interrogators IF you believe the NYT story (I’m agnostic) on the interrogations. And even if you don’t believe the “one remove” of CIA interrogators from the torture sessions, it’s still pretty likely that the consultants were on hand to Mengele their way through their human interrogation experimenations whenever possible. Some reports on the cable indicate just that – but actual cables are the kinds of proof that courts look to beyond just newspaper reports that seem to be routinely wrong and slanted and based on anonymous sourcing.

  18. ThingsComeUndone says:

    , as the disclosure of such information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.1

    So an American’s right to privacy even if he privately did war crimes trumps an Iraq’s right to a fair and speedy trial, never mind his right not to be tortured.

    • JThomason says:

      Think “equal protection” argument as applied in Bush v. Gore to understand how this works.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        Sigh we must impeach the Supremes for Bush vs Gore before we can get real justice!
        A law case that cannot ever be used as a Precedent has that ever been done before in the whole history of American or even English law?

        • LabDancer says:

          “A law case that cannot ever be used as a Precedent has that ever been done before in the whole history of American or even English law?”

          Indeed there’s a entire school of judicial thought that aims to achieve just that effect.

          Conscientious narrowing of the particular ruling to the peculiar facts at hand underpins the ‘incrementalist’ approach to applying the principle of precedent.

          It’s just that in Bush v Gore, the majority opinion reeked so strongly of blatant result-orientation, even the majority felt obliged to try to placate their colleagues by actually stating in their opinion that which it is totally unnecessary to state.

          Not that such disingenuous placating ever really succeeds: Witness FSFL Norm Coleman arguing for nothing less than the extension of the ‘principle’ in Bush v Gore in both the Minnesota US Senate election contest trial and the appeal from it.

          [In this vein, assuming the accuracy of the recent signals from Governor Pawlenty and FSFL Coleman to the effect that the contest is about to end, it’s impossible to discount that what Randy Newman refers to as “the Italian brotherhood” on the SCOTUS has reached out to Coleman with an advance ‘ruling’ as to the sort of welcome his argument is likely to receive: like shoes being thrown at it. Republican team players are always wise to avoid fouling the nest unnecessarily.]

          • ThingsComeUndone says:

            Conscientious narrowing of the particular ruling to the peculiar facts at hand underpins the ‘incrementalist’ approach to applying the principle of precedent.

            Is this Federalist Society bull?
            This approach could be used to justify anything on any case? It would provide judges cover for any bribe because they would always be correct in their decisions.

            • LabDancer says:

              Not even CLOSE to “Federalist bull”. It’s the dominant philosophy underpinning the development of English common law. Maybe you can offer up some reason or example why you’d suggest this as “Federalist bull”.

              • ThingsComeUndone says:

                Indeed there’s a entire school of judicial thought that aims to achieve just that effect.

                Conscientious narrowing of the particular ruling to the peculiar facts at hand underpins the ‘incrementalist’ approach to applying the principle of precedent.

                It’s just that in Bush v Gore, the majority opinion reeked so strongly of blatant result-orientation,

                even the majority felt obliged to try to placate their colleagues by actually stating in their opinion that which it is totally unnecessary to state.

                Indeed there’s a entire school of judicial thought that aims to achieve just that effect.

                By that effect I assume you mean Bush vs Gore

                A Supreme Court Decision which I was under the impression that all 50 states will look to in deciding election law you can have an ‘incrementalist’ approach to cases but there must be a common thread a structure binding everything a balance.
                Bush vs Gore reeks of the Fix being in. The no precedent thing begs the question why?

  19. ThingsComeUndone says:

    I wonder how far this coverup will go? If the Justice Dept starts defending government contractors from charges then I think the


    is in.

  20. ART45 says:


    A question.

    You win every battle, hands down.

    But you always lose the war.

    Is this what you want?

      • ART45 says:

        My point, exactly.

        Wars cannot be won without (a) objectives, and (b) sufficient resources.

        Wars are ugly.

        Pissing into the wind — it feels good.

        • Rayne says:

          And my point is that if you can’t point to a war that’s been won — by anybody, at any time — can you really tell somebody else they are pissing in the wind?

          Might you not be pissing into the wind yourself AND raining on somebody else’s parade?

          [edit: Jeebus, it’s got to be the post-full moon wind down around here. The truth is its own objective, and insurgencies using asymmetric methodologies don’t need many resources.]

          • bmaz says:

            A boatload of semantical nothing as far as I can tell, and Rayne is fending it off nicely. I do find it amusing that Rayne wants to stop the rain. It answers that question that has been caught in my head like an earwig since I was a kid, “Who’ll stop the rain”?

            Rayne will.

            • Rayne says:

              Heh. Yes, I can intercede with rain.

              I am, however, powerless against snow and sleet, and badly in need of a new snowblower…

  21. financialtools1 says:

    Since the neocons are trying to create a fight between Blair-DNI and Panetta-CIA , here is my letter to Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton , maybe that will keep them ( Blair and Panetta) focus on the real problem :

    In my opinion you just got a lot more work, and a lot more difficult, here are 2 points : 1) last week, at a FBI Conference at the Economic Club , June, 2, 2009 and at
    , a neocon in the panel kept on asking FBI Director Mueller and NYPD Commissioner Kelly why not take out the Intelligence Unit from the FBI, again and again, and Director Mueller made very clear that Intelligence is key to the FBI, and the only group that would insist year after year to separate Intelligence from the FBI would be the criminals, they would benefit a lot from a brainless FBI, so now we know who some of the real criminals are ! ( hey Posner ,why don’t you ask your partner Netanyahu to separate the Mossad from the Knesset, eh ? ) they really think all the gentiles are stupid…..and so expect a neocon drive to push Mueller and Kelly out of Law Enforcement, and this also means that these neocons are preparing a “big one”, that’s why they want a headless Law Enforcement , so you better get ready for these criminals.

    2) The W.Post, June,3,2009 : ” Cheney Led Briefings of Lawmakers To Defend Interrogation Techniques ” by P. Kane and J.Warrick, where we read that Cheney was really involved in all the details : he was in charge, the darling.

    I wonder what DNI Blair and Director Panetta think of these neocons trying year after year to separate the FBI from Intelligence ?

    Now for the good news:

    President Obama Cairo Speech was brilliant , best one in the 21 Century so far, but now comes the hard part as Secretary Gates , Secretary Clinton and special envoy Senator Mitchell must get practical results, like you all say : you must get the Palestinians to start working on building their Economy and State, must get the Israelis to stop stealing the land of the Palestinians and burning their crops and trees as they did last week, and a New Deal must take place among Muslims, about growth and jobs, peace and trade and education,and their religious leaders cannot tell woman what to wear and what to say, so there is a lot of work ahead, at least P.Obama started the conversation after years and years of silence,brilliant !

    a) The media the next day – C-Span-NPR-PBS-Fox-etal – as well as the Washington Post , was focused on the negative, on C-span the next day after the Cairo Speech, on Washington Journal, the neocon host was talking about Charles “Mossad” Krauthammer, who called P.Obama basically a liar on his W.Post piece,and on and on….a real backstabbing job, but after all, they have been doing it for years and the men in my own christian community have never said anything against it, so the High Treason will continue and the neocons inside the White House and in D.C. helping them with their silence and discreet approval, haw sad !

    b) Solution : One day soon i would hope that Secretary Gates or President Obama would ask the People to ask themselves: Let’s talk about who promoted the Wars ,who financed the wars and who benefited from these wars ? , from the Independence War to World War II to Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, who ? And some wars are un-avoidable, of course, but many are just a huge business, and these warmongers the first thing they do is control the Media, the Free Speech, so that we never get a chance to study WHO PROMOTES WARS AND WHO FINANCES AND BENEFITS FROM THEM, so WHO ? in the case of the Revolutionary War we know for a fact that King George III was financed mainly by the Rothschild group of diamond and gold traders, the money lenders as Shakespeare just to call them, and to this day they still control most of the West African Trade over these diamonds and gold ( and other unmentionables ) in the world markets, so since them, who are they ? today in the Iraq/Afghanistan War they are the Military ,Security and Intelligence Contractors and some of their biggest stockholders : the Hedge -Funds and Investment Bankers, they are the only ones making-out big time among the destruction, the waste and the blood,so I hope one day very soon we will have a real honest discussion about these war profiteers, their bankers , advisers and lawyers…..and since we know that some were pushing for the Iraq war every week on TV- Radio – Web and Newspapers in 2002 and early 2003, darlings like Wolfowitz,Perle,Feith,Libby,Safire,Schumer,Emanuel, Rosen,Abrams,Cheney,Harman,Feinstein ,Rupert Murdoch and most of the wonderful people at AIPAC, they could be a good starting point, right?

    after all, the best friends of Rupert Murdoch are the Emanuel Brothers, but they will never “get” this, right?

    c) Another issue that affects directly the DoD is the price of oil — at least until they ( and we ) find the wisdom and the will to break free from the Oil/Gas Lobby grip — and in the USA Senate Hearings on June, 4,2009, only one Senator asked the key question from the new TARP Administrator, Herb Allison: ” Why banks and other Financial Institutions are using TARP money to speculate in oil and gas ? and Allison said that he didn’t know….but of course, who will ask Blankfein of Goldman Sachs or Fink and Greenstein of BlackRock or Mack of Morgan Stanley, eh? no one… to think that we have millions of workers unable to find decent jobs, including thousands of veterans, and some of these darlings are speculating on oil deals with TARP money and wrecking the USA economy is criminal.

    d) Secretary Gates as well as Sec. Solis – Labor , Sec. Donovan – Housing , Sec. Duncan -Education, Sec. Chu – Energy , Sec. Shinseki -Veterans , Sec. LaHood – Transportation and Sec. Salazar – Interior and their teams maybe could find a way to install in every one of the 50 States a set of Solar-Wind -Wave-Geothermal Farms – like President Obama talks about – so that training could get going and homes , buildings, schools , roads , grid and businesses could get benefits in training, parts and services , in education, in new commercial operations, in lower energy costs, in getting thousands of Veterans re-trained, in moving us out of this Imported Oil and Gas Dependency that its going to waste 500 billion dollars this year alone away from the USA consumers, money that could really re-start America and also finance real Rural Broadband and lift America’s Commerce and Trade.

    The sad fact is that to expect the neocons in the White House and the Administration to help America become Energy Independent is absurd : if we break free from Middle East Oil and Gas, that region stops being important, and our strategic partner stops being important too, right now they get billions of dollars from the USA Taxpayers as long as there is fear, as long as there are Wars and Oil Dependency and they are our only “ally” in the region, if we break free from the region their business is over , so these neocons are the ones working hardest to keep us addicted to Middle East Energy, they are the nightmare among us ! and it’s bankrupting America and our soldiers are dying for it, but who will stand up to them in D.C. ? no one.

    e) Sec. Clinton trip to Latin America was also a masterpiece of change , there is a new ” air ” and hope , but already they are trying to attack it : in C-span we get speeches by ultra neocon Otto Reich , daily spin about the bad Venezuela, terror from Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc., etc., all to stop the potential dialogue and to keep the hate going, daily
    news that spies for Cuba are a huge threat ( what are the Cubans going to throw at the USA ? Habanera shirts ? Cuban cigars? Fish ? Free Health care ? Free Education ? what ? ) and while Ben-Ami Kadish , a spy that gave away F-15 and Patriot missile technology, radars, radios, avionics, engines, weapons systems, etc., gets to go home with no jail time and the Judge in the case can’t get any answers as to why he was not indicted for many years, it makes you wonder, no ? … it just shows the double standard and the criminal high treason activity of the neocon lobby inside the US Government in D.C., more of the same.

    One decision that could be a disaster is the nomination of Ken Feinberg as supervisor of TARP Bank’s salaries and compensations :
    1) Feinberg is a friend of Blankfein of Goldman Sachs,Fink of BlackRock and Mack of Morgan Stanley, this is a huge conflict of interest, more so when some of these institutions or their partners and associates may be using TARP money in the Oil and Gas markets to speculate , Feinberg cannot be impartial.
    2) Feinberg is a friend of Larry Silverstein and Goldman, the 2 main lease holders of the WTC and Maurice Greenberg ,and their banks and insurance companies are in litigation with them, this could be a huge conflict of interest, to fix things and take sides with threats of conflicts or legal decisions.
    3) Feinberg would get access to bankers dealings with Military-Security-Intelligence Contracts with the Pentagon, CIA, etc., etc., and the potential for abuse, favoritism, extortion, insider trading and other shenanigans is huge, as well as with other Dpt., a
    non-elected political appointee could impose deals ,decisions and winners, a disaster for the Republic.
    4) Feinberg could use his inside information to “suggest deals and contracts” with the Hedge-Funds, his friends and associates, in exchange for approving bonuses and salaries, the potential for abuse is staggering, again , he would never investigate abuses of TARP money in Oil and Gas speculation by his Wall Street friends, so why put the USA Economy under this potential abuse ?
    after some of these same players have sinked the USA Economy , why give one of their leaders more power to abuse ? enough is enough !
    5) Feinberg is a member of the 9/11/2001 group, is insulting that after all the lies and cover-ups about this criminal attack ( Real Estate and Insurance Fraud ) , one of the key players would get to supervise anyone, the one that the Justice Dpt. should investigate about 9/11 is Feinberg himself, this is the ultimate insult to America, and that’s why these neocons keep on trying to get the Intelligence out of the FBI , to make sure they never find out the Truth and get away again with the next “big one”.

    The best to Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton, with new “open doors of change ” in the Middle East and Latin America, your team got more work than ever, let’s hope the whole Cabinet and the “D.C. Federal Machine” are right there with you, because after all, many of these same federal employees and political appointees were there when this monstrous Financial Mess was created and implemented, let’s hope that now they will help you all to correct it and save the country with Energy Independence ,Peace ,Trade , Commerce and Friendship with all Nations, so the best to all of you.

  22. MadDog says:

    And if folks wanted to know why the CIA, and even IG Helgerson, did not report “contractors” violating US Torture laws, here’s something I wrote here about back on January 13 2008:

    And in case anyone needed reminding, guess who was assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency when “the Memorandum Of Understanding between CIA and DoJ on reporting Federal Crimes” was put in place.

    Wait for it…David Addington.

    And another wee bit of conspiratorial pixie dust to throw in the mix:

    As of March 2, 1982, the terms of the 1982 CIA-DoJ Crimes Reporting MOU under E.O. 12333 no longer required that CIA report to DoJ narcotics trafficking allegations regarding individuals, assets, or independent contractors associated with the Contras because assets and independent contractors were not considered employees for crimes reporting purposes.

    If contractors were used for the Torture Interrogation sessions, then the CIA is not bound to report to the DOJ even Federal violations of the laws.

    And who you ask was responsible for writing that MOU at the DOJ back then?

    Why it was the very same Rick Cinquegrana I wrote about 2 posts ago here.

    The very same Rick Cinquegrana who participated as Counsel to the Inspector General on IG Helgerson’s team in producing the IG’s “Special Review of Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001 – October 2003) of 7 May 2004″.

    Yes, this very same Rick Cinquegrana was Deputy Counsel for Intelligence Policy at DoJ way back then who:

    …wrote a memorandum to Mark M Richard, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, in which he stated:

    Pursuant to our discussion yesterday, attached are copies of the procedures governing CIA’s reporting of crimes and the transmittal letters between the [ Attorney General ] and the DCI.As you can see, alleged violations of Title 21 [ narcotics violations ] by non-employees are not covered by the procedures to be reported.In lieu of formal reporting, however, the Attorney General’s letter notes the fine cooperation the Drug Enforcement Administration has received from CIA and the Department’s expectation of continuing cooperation . . . in this area. Accordingly, it would appear that if CIA and DEA can work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement regarding the kinds of offenses at issue, there would be no need to modify the procedures, at least so far as non-employees are concerned.

    • emptywheel says:


      Nice work.

      Remember in Jane Mayer’s book, where she says OIG was totally politicized. I’ve always wondered what she meant by that and how Helgerson fit into that.

      Is that how?

      Also, where does Rizzo, who had his first big moment cleaning up after Iran-Contra, play into this?

      • MadDog says:

        When Rick Cinquegrana got the job of staff director to the 9/11 Commision over the purported “scandal” of:

        L. Britt Snider,former inspector general at the CIA, resigned under pressure Friday, less than three months into a high-stakes probe designed to determine why the nation’s spy agencies failed to pick up any warning of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon…

        L. Britt Snider was thought to be too buddy-buddy with George Tenet:

        …Several GOP members, including Kyl and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, expressed doubts about Snider because of his close ties to CIA Director George J. Tenet.

        Snider had served as a special counsel to Tenet at the CIA, and was general counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee when Tenet was its staff director in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

        All these folks, Tenet, Cinquegrana, Snider, were all connected at the hip through their services as staff on numerous Congressional committees, executive branch service at the CIA and DOJ, and intelligence review assignments over the course of their careers.

        The incestuous fix was in! The 9/11 Commission, the CIA OIG Special Review, you name it, the very same players were foxes guarding the henhouse.

  23. fatster says:

    O/T for the car people:

    Judge OKs Chrysler plan to terminate franchises

    Judge approves Chrysler plan to eliminate 789 dealer franchises effective immediately
AP News
    Jun 09, 2009 16:05 EST

    “A bankruptcy judge says Chrysler can go ahead with its plan to terminate the franchises of 789 of its dealers.

  24. fatster says:

    O/T, or action on the Meltdown/Bailout front

    House committee subpoenas Federal Reserve

    “The congressional panel investigating what happened to all that bank bailout money has issued a subpoena to the Federal Reserve, asking them to hand over all documents relating to the takeover of Merrill Lynch by the Bank of America.

    “On January 1, BofA finalized its purchase of Merrill Lynch for just over $29.1 billion. That made the bank eligible for an additional $20 billion in federal rescue money, bringing BofA’s total to some $45 billion. Now, Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) want to know exactly what the banks and the Federal Reserve agreed to when they arranged the deal last year.

    “Full text of the press release from Kucinich’s office:”


  25. Becca says:

    So suddenly the big black redaction pen is out of ink, is that the excuse? They can’t cross off the ’names and identifying information’ for these guys?

    Y’know, it’s like they can’t even be bothered to come up with plausible fake excuses anymore.

    If we look at the reasons behind the reasons: If the names are become known, some other country will do what we wouldn’t and indict them for torture and ’crimes against humanity.’ ”Following orders” and ”it was necessary” are excuses already found to be legally indefensible. That’s the big, steaming pile of crap in the middle of the room, which all our government officials keep hoping we don’t notice.

  26. bmaz says:

    BREAKING NEWS: The Supremes have finished up their detailed 31 hour consideration of the fourth largest bankruptcy in the nation’s history and okayed it to proceed. Chrysler case all done in 37.84 days! Whoo-hoo! Feel the due process America!

    • JThomason says:

      Once one sees how easy it is to dismantle the tort system, taking out a few contracts is no big deal.

      • bmaz says:

        Yep, that and, even more so, the slippery slope decimation of the 4th Amendment, exclusionary rule and Miranda, all of which are functionally neutered now, is exactly why I gripe about this. The result had to be gotten to, quite unfortunately, and in a quick fashion, but it could have been done so much more transparently and fairly to the little claimants and interested parties. I am no BK specialist, but how this has been done (more than the speed, which by itself causes concern) just kills me.

  27. Rayne says:

    You know what’s giving me heartburn — besides Panetta’s insistence on protecting contractors’ privacy — is section 13, in which Panetta says some content is attorney-client privileged and legal work product.

    WE ARE THE CLIENT. We’re paying the tab. It’s OUR policies that are supposed to be evaluated against past, current or anticipated CIA activity. We’re entitled to see this deliberation as they are not the executive office.

    Unless they’re hiding contractors’ consults, this makes no sense at all. It’s the spaghetti defense, throwing everything at the wall to see what’ll stick to keep these documents out of the public eye.

  28. JasonLeopold says:

    hey there folks. I’m wondering if EW or anyone thinks the indexes contains information applicable to the waterboarding of al-Nashir or if you think it’s just about Abu Zubaydah. It seems that Panetta is only talking about Abu Zubaydah in his declaration. Not sure if that’s even an important point in the big picture but was wondering what you all think.

  29. JasonLeopold says:

    I think I may have missed the Nashiri reference in the declaration and indexes somewhere along the way.

  30. JasonLeopold says:

    Disregard my query. just found the info about Nashiri in EW’s previous post. Sorry about that. I’m late to the game today.

    • bmaz says:

      In fairness, there does seem to be a dichotomy between the implications of al-Nashiri in the schedules and the discussion in the declaration.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        thanks for that. Appreciate it. Do you recall or maybe others do how many videotapes there are of al-Nashiri? For some reason I thought I had read that it was two videotapes.

          • bmaz says:

            Still not positive I buy the “golly gosh we just taped over them” bit. So the ones that were not taped over were not taped over – why? They just happened to be the last ones? There is no evidence of that. They were random? Then why so? There are a whole boatload of these kind of questions, and the boat only gets bigger with the more information available. I dunno…..

            • emptywheel says:

              Well, the lsat ones of AZ are tape and rewind, and both the Nashiri ones.

              So it is not unreasonable to believe after a point in time, they started doing it–just like they started taping over the email tape backups in the White House.

              • bmaz says:

                Maybe. And I am not saying it is inconceivable. Just not sure I am all in for it. I am a technotard, but I see a difference between the overwrite on a computer protocol, which is foreseeably an easy setting on a computer, if not indeed a default perhaps. That doesn’t strike me so much as the case for the video system, although many commercial security systems do operate in that manner. My inclination is that it would be much more of a conscious and manual deal with the videotaping they purport to have been doing. All incredibly rank speculation though; I have no real idea. Tell you what, both instances are freaking incredible considering the implications, nature of evidence and presumptions of preservation that ought to have attached. Pretty malevolent.

  31. Mary says:

    After looking quickly at Panetta’s declaration, a few random thoughts.

    Someone else below thread(s) mentioned the footnote on Panetta rushing in to actually classify and reclassify and that is pretty noteworthy. It sure reads like he first is declaring (declarations are supposed to be of facts) that everything at issue has been properly marked with classification information but then … he drops a footnote that seems to say uh, actually what I just declared isn’t true and indicates that some things were not marked at all and some were marked SECRET rather than TOP Secret and they are “fixing” that, although they won’t change the originals. HUH?

    Towards the end, when he’s searching for statutory authorizations rather than just the Classification order as outs for producing docs he seems to several times say that the “DNI” can make the determinations that he, Panetta, is making. The name Blair comes to mind – unless I’m misreading what he says I think he threw in stuff that Blair would have to ok.

    He also references EW’s classification bailiwick, the special access program. His lifts, with out me going and looking stuff up, are that it should be the Dir of CIA who determines whether there will be a special access program or not and how it will run, but then he seems to go on to say that rather than the DirCIA,

    Officials at the National Security Council (NSC) determined that in light of the extraordinary circumstances affecting the vital interests of the United States and the sensitivity of the activities contemplated in the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program it was essential to limit access to the information in the program.

    “Officials at” and not “the Council?” And I’m guessing he means the old Council, although he is digging and rummaging through things NOW to reclassify and classify them even when they had no classification marking originally (I’m not sure that unclassified to TOP SECRET is really covered by what he cites on authority to upgrade classification) The Special Access is supposed to be supported by a finding – I’d normally assume that means a Presidential finding but he makes it sound as if the “finding” is that some “officials at” the NSC thought it was a good idea. I may be misreading that but it didn’t seem to flow to me.

    His primary argument is the “operational nature” of information (like the cables) makes it special and subect to additional protection, but since some of the 65 documents he admits are just notes from people who watched the drowning videos, I have to wonder how he claims those are “operational” -notes from watching the video at some later point in time. ????????

    And since he spends all kinds of time on identities and locations and identifying foreign govs as being the info that he wants to keep private and almost nada on why the rest of it, you’re sitting there thinking well damn, just go redac that info then and that’s when he comes up with the unique assertion in paragraph 14 that “no meaningful segregable information can be released” HUH? Why not? Well, bc he’s decided that “innocuous words” that have already been “released in other contexts” are just so darned intertwined with torturenational security that he can’t relese them? What the hell does that mean? It makes no sense – what, words like “transparency” and phrases like “no one is above the law,” those old innocuous sounding words already released – gov can’t release anything with those words in it now? /s

    Really makes no sense and “mosaic theory” be damned. It’s pretty jarring when you have to say that it is innocuous words, already released, that will gravely damage national security to the point where you can’t release them.

    He says that the “CIA will continue to be involved in questioning terrorist [suspects] under legally approved guidelines” but doesn’t mention how those guidelines are legally approved if they are kept secret from any court of review.

    It’s interesting that he does admit that the EITs as ACTUALLY applied were different from the EITs described in the “abstract” in the OLC memos(which EW has discussed some already) Seems to me that you have a CIA admission against interest that the EITs as applied are not protected by the memos. Kind of a Star Trekian, Shields down Sulu moment.

    I’m not sure that he ever alleges coherently in his “oh noes, the al-Qaeda will use this for propaganda” section that the information will disclose anything that al-Qaeda isn’t ALREADY using for propaganda.

    On the cables, too, I wonder to what extent, if they were FROM CONTRACTORS, you could argue that the originator had classification authority? Do they have a Tenet delegation of classification authority to non-gov actors like the Contractors? Mitchell was give the ability to classifiy his own actions vis a vis the detainees, even though he wasn’t a gov employee? That seems, um, *odd*

    But the verymost odd thing to me was at the very beginning, where Panetta declasres, “The judgments expressed in this declaration are my own.” emph added


    • emptywheel says:

      Dangit, Mary, that’s my next post.

      Not entirely, but yes, there’s the not-classified-properly-now-classified cables, and the NSC classification.

      Which is my next post.

  32. susiedow says:

    Odd. Something very different stood out from Panetta’s declaration:

    Page 6 of 24

    As the Court also knows, some of the operational documents currently at issue contain descriptions of [Enhance Interrogation Techniques] being applied during specific overseas interrogations. These descriptions, however, are of EITs as applied [sic] in actual operations, and are of a qualitatively different nature than the EIT description in the abstract [sic] contained in the OLC memorandum.

    That sounds to me like the harsh reality of what really went on during the interrogation sessions is far far worse than anyone can begin to imagine.

    • LabDancer says:

      But ’sounds like’ still isn’t the same as ’says’, and the history of the CIA per Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” is characterized by the slimy distinction.

      Does ‘qualitatively different’ mean ‘less bad’? All this nice reasonable older Dem establishment gent is doing is asking that all we nice reasonable folk should reasonably grant some reasonable hedge for that — especially because all the reasonable Beltway types and talking heads won’t just grant that hedge, they’ll actually opine on its value for us on our teevees. Could it mean ‘worse’? The vast base of authoritarians get off just thinking it might be so, and the Chicken Littles are pray for it [eg See Morning Joe host couple]. Might it mean ‘not less bad, not worse, just … not reasonably comparable’? Oh noes: please don’t leave us to think for ourselves!

      It brings to mind the Cook/Moore “I thought of being a judge, but I didn’t have the Latin” routine — Reason #1 in a series on why one should kiss goodbye one’s dream of being appointed the director of the CIA: can’t stomach the bureauspeak.

  33. rosalind says:

    OT: from a link at Huffpo – London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

    However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique to simulate drowning.

    “CIA Interrogation technique” – hey Leon, how ya liking that?

    (and a kingdom for a way to kill the “simulate” b.s. verbiage)

  34. mui1 says:

    Reading Worthington’s Guantanomo files book. I am so ashamed of this country, I barely know how to expres it. All these torturers and their enablers need to be thrown in jail. There is no justification for Gitmo, except to torture. There is no excuse for lack of transparency on this matter except to cover for the torturers and their enablers.

  35. Rayne says:

    And Red Wings lose to Penguins 2-1 at Pittsburg.

    Some of the worst officiating I’ve seen in a long time. Apparently they wanted this to go all seven games in the series; at least the last game is in Detroit.

  36. Leen says:

    this endlessly repeated claim by Obama, Holder, Pelosi, Feingold, Leahy, Waxman, Whitehouse “no one is above the law” is a bunch of bullshit

  37. SomeGuy says:

    I love that he seems completly unaware of the irony. For an encore he could refer to the ACLU lawyer as the Grand Inquisitor.

  38. cinnamonape says:

    It seems to me that there is a big flaw in Panetta’s argument. “Privacy” deals with actions one undertakes as a private citizen, not in behalf of the the Federal government on contract or while operating as an agent of that government.

    The FOIA does not bar information from being released that may relate to criminal, ethical or embarassing actions or decisions made when participating in a Federal contract. If you use that contract as an opportunity to party with prostitutes or go on a wild drinking binge that results in vandalism the FOIA doesn’t protect you.

    If you get off work, go home and do the same thing it might…as you “opportunity” to participate in such actions doesn’t relate to your employment.

    Panetta’s claim that the release of the identities of these individuals could be “embarassing”, or might subject them to civil action, criminal charges, or professional ethical investigations is precisely the reason they should be released.

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