The CIA’s Cherry Pick, Two

Update, July 21: As this post describes, the CIA explains that the timelines and outlines are derivative records, and therefore permissibly withheld from the Vaughn Index.

In my last post, I noted that the CIA’s selection of materials for the Vaughn Index (Part One, Part Two) just happened to avoid any deliberative discussions from April and May, when interrogators were reportedly getting approval for techniques on a regular basis.

In this post, I will look at what the CIA has included and excluded from the later part of its Vaughn Index–the materials in which the torture tapes and their destruction were discussed. I’ve taken the timelines I did in this post and added in what we learn from the Vaughn Index–the additions are bolded.

Once again, the CIA’s selection of materials for Hellerstein’s reviews appear very careful. While the materials include specific details on waterboarding, they appear to exclude the main investigative records surrounding both the torture and the destruction of the tapes.

The IG Report materials

One chunk of material pertains to the IG Report on interrogation eventually published in 2004. The materials in the index include:

January 9, 2003: Review of Interrogation Videotapes. A 5-page memorandum for the record written by a CIA attorney. The document contains information relating to the contents of the destroyed videotapes, pre-decisional information pertaining to policy and legal guidance, confidential communications between the attorney and CIA personnel, and attorney work-product.
February 3, 2003: Interview report
February 10, 2003: Interview report
May 9, 2003: Notes from Tape Review. A 47-page handwritten document of notes from a review of the videotapes that was written in the field with a one-page email enclosed. The notes and email include information concerning the destroyed videotapes that was incorporated into a final report.
May 22, 2003: Trip Report. A 4-page memorandum for the record written by a CIA employee. The document contains information regarding the destroyed videotapes, and recommendations and opinions of CIA employees.
June 17, 2003: Notes of CIA Attorney Discussion. A 6-page record of handwritten notes from a CIA employee discussing the interrogation videotapes with a CIA attorney. The notes include details concerning the destroyed videotapes, communications between the attorney and Agency management, and attorney work-product.
June 18, 2003: Email
June 18, 2003: Interview report

A few interesting details about these materials. We know from the IG declaration submitted in this case that the IG review was initiated in January 2003. I earlier wondered whether that January 9 document was the document that initiated the review; I can’t tell one way or another from the description. But I find it interesting that it is titled "review of interrogation videotapes." Is it possible that the entire IG review started as a review of the torture tapes?

As expected, those May documents appear to have been the work product of the IG’s trip to view the torture tapes.  I’m pretty interested that the CIA did not let Hellerstein review any of the interview reports. Are they worried about letting him see the product of the IG’s investigation?

The torture tape scandal materials

One chunk of the material pertains to the CIA’s reaction as the torture tape scandal broke in December 2007. Note, I’ve put these amongst the other known dates from the scandal.

December 3, 2007: Review of Potential Public Statement. A 3-page email chain between a CIA employee and his management discussing comments on a two-page attachment that is a draft of an Agency statement regarding the destroyed videotapes.
December 5, 2007: NYT informs CIA they’re going to publish story on tapes
December 6, 2007: Michael Hayden writes letter to CIA personnel explaining matter; NYT breaks story of torture tape destruction
December 8, 2007: DOJ opens preliminary investigation into torture tape destruction
December 10, 2007: Trip Report. A one-page email from a CIA employee to his management, with a 4-page attachment that is a memorandum for the record written by a CIA employee. The document contains information concerning the destroyed videotapes and preliminary recommendations and opinions of CIA employees.
December 10, 2007: 2-page email
December 11, 2007: Hayden briefs SSCI on the torture tape destruction, discussed the techniques used on Abu Zubaydah, including waterboarding
December 12, 2008: ACLU moves to hold CIA in contempt for destroying torture tapes
December 28, 2007: 7-page interview report
January 2, 2008: Mukasey announces appointment of John Durham to conduct investigation into torture tape destruction
January 7, 2008: Notes Concerning Destroyed Tapes. A one-page email between a CIA employee and his management with a 12-page attachment of notes concerning the destroyed videotapes. The email discusses the attachment; first hearing on ACLU’s contempt motion
January 10, 2008: CIA submits motion opposing contempt

As we discussed in my last post on this, the first document appears to be the CIA’s initial reaction (and potential public statement) to learning the NYT was going to break this story.

I find it interesting that there’s a "trip report" from the days after DOJ announced a preliminary investigation of the torture tape destruction.

More interesting, I note that the CIA did not give Hellerstein the interview report that precedes Mukasey’s decision to appoint John Durham. As a product of an ongoing investigation, this may be proper. But once again, Hellerstein doesn’t get to see the investigations underlying the torture and tortore tape destruction.

The unknown timelines and notes

And then there are a slew of undated documents, many of them timelines and outlines. Of those, we get only:

Not Dated: A one-page note which summarizes details of waterboard exposures from the destroyed videotapes.
Not Dated: A 3-page memo which summarizes details of waterboard exposures from the destroyed videotapes. 

I find this particularly interesting. The CIA is willing to give undated descriptions of waterboarding itself to Hellerstein. But not any timelines that would put those waterboarding scenes into the context of what they did with Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri over time.

32 replies
  1. alabama says:

    Abu Ghraib must have traumatized these guys. Rather like waterboarding. They really don’t want any pictures floating around….

  2. drational says:

    I was thinking the videotape summarization of the “details of waterboard exposures from the destroyed videotapes” may have led to the accounting of the 83 and 183 numbers in the IG report, but KSM was not videotaped, so scratch that.

    • emptywheel says:

      The videotape may have led to the AZ number though.

      The KSM number likely came from one of three sources:

      1) The cables
      2) The receipts on water bottles emptied
      3) Some asshole bragging that he had waterboarded a terrorist 183, not like those sissies who had only waterboarded AZ 83 times

      I’m mostly joking with option 3, though.

      • Mary says:

        Or maybe detailed notes from consultants like Mitchell who were basically treating this all as a big experiment offshoot of their learned helplessness area of interest. Might even appear in the cables, but creepy researcher notes had to exist at some point, something like – this session, X, included 14 waterboarding session, providing a total to date of 48 waterboarding sessions applied over 4 days with ranges to date of 2 to 22 waterboardings per session, observations noted as sessions increased include …

        yada yada That’s why they were the consultants – they study that kind of stuff and CIA would want as much detailed data from some of their few remaining situations where they could “legally” engage in human experimenation as possible.

  3. maryo2 says:

    Are “details of waterboard exposures” the number of water bottles emptied?

    And the lack of dates because the volume of water exceeds limits defined in a known memo that predates the exposures?

  4. klynn says:

    Dangerous ground to exclude anything on the torture tape destruction. Even criminal.

    Hellerstein will have a heyday with that exclusion.

  5. emptywheel says:

    Not criminal. He asked for a selection, they gave him one, even more than 1/10 of the materials.

    Plus, teh whole point is supposed to be the content of teh tapes, and the focus on waterboarding delivers that.

    • klynn says:

      Plus, the whole point is supposed to be the content of teh tapes, and the focus on waterboarding delivers that.

      Wait, all materials regarding the tape destruction investigation are excluded? No one sees a conflict with this?

      Cherry-Pick has a whole new meaning now.

  6. emptywheel says:

    No, they’re not, sorry if I suggested that. After all, the draft statement from December 2007 is about the torture tape destruction.

    My point is that we don’t get the CIA’s own investigative documents, for the most part. We get the content of the tapes, which is, after all, what CIA refused to hand over before.

    But there’s not a document from 2005 wherein Porter Goss says “Hey, Jose, let’s destroy those tapes before Jim Comey gets a hold of them.” DOesn’t exist, as far as the CIA is telling.

    (Though curiously, teh memo that DNI Negroponte sent Goss in 2005 telling him not to destroy the torture tapes doesn’t show, as far as we know, though it may have been included in earlier FOIA documents. )

    • klynn says:

      But didn’t Hellerstein order that information?

      The government shall produce documents relating to the destruction of the tapes, which describe the persons and reasons behind their destruction, from a period reasonably longer than April through December 2002. I find that the period for such production should be April 1, 2002 through June 30, 2003. If this longer period imposes an unreasonable burden, the Government should show why, and whether a reasonably shorter period would provide sufficient disclosure.

      This reads to me like a charge for, “I want who, what, when, where, why and, to what extent irt the tape destruction.”

      • emptywheel says:

        Right. And it’s included here, to the extent that it wasn’t already turned over (for example, the IG report, which includes tons on what the videotapes showed, was already turned over, even if all but three words, practically, were redacted).

        The issue is whether the CIA included it in the stuff that Hellerstein gets to review to say whether their exclusion is proper or not.

        • klynn says:

          Klynn shaking her head at CIA playing games.

          Tisk, tisk.

          The one-page email from January 7, 2008 might be the only possible nugget of tape destruction investigation material.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I dunno. If I had a son like W, I’d be tempted to jump out of a plane as well.

      Boxturtle (BTW, I think there was a 89yr old who jumped regularly here in Greene Co)

    • emptywheel says:

      My now 70 year old FIL took up skydiving about 5 years ago. His wife’s not a big fan, particularly since the major heart surgery, so now he’s stuck driving his motorcycle around the treacherous roads of Ireland at insane speeds.

    • fatster says:

      Betcha he’ll have plenty of experts jumping with him, one of whom he’ll be be connected to very tightly. I think he got his first experience bailing out of that plane during WWII, or am I misrememberng?

  7. BoxTurtle says:

    The judge now knows exactly what to ask for. Question is, will he do it?

    Boxturtle (Don’t ask the question if you can’t stand the answer)

  8. MadDog says:

    EW, some additional info:

    Wrt the Declaration of Constance E. Rea, on page 6 she says this:

    11. In January 2003, OIG initiated a special review of the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program. This review was intended to evaluate CIA detention and interrogation activities, and was not initiated in response to an allegation of wrongdoing. The special review was led by the Deputy Inspector General and the team comprised personnel from across OIG, including the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Counsel to the Inspector General, a senior Investigations Staff manager, three Investigators, two Inspectors, an Auditor, a Research Assistant, and a Secretary…

    (My Bold)

    During a Googling session Tuesday last week, I attempted to track down the names of the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, and for the Counsel to the Inspector General.

    These were my results:

    The Assistant Inspector General for Investigations – Mona B. Alderson, CIA Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. See page 3 wrt her declaration dated Nov. 9, 2004 from this filing (21 page PDF).

    The Counsel to the Inspector General – Rick Cinquegrana as per this CV (2 page PDF):

    Counsel to the Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, Central Intelligence Agency • 2003-2004

    Provided legal and policy advice to the Inspector General, other senior managers, and auditors, inspectors, and investigators. Participate in selected investigative and special review teams.

    More Googling of “Rick Cinquegrana” shows that he was secondarily involved in a small scandal wrt to the original person, L. Britt Snider, a former inspector general at the CIA, hired as staff director to lead the 9/11 Commission.

  9. seesdifferent says:

    December 5, 2007: NYT informs CIA they’re going to publish story on tapes
    December 6, 2007: Michael Hayden writes letter to CIA personnel explaining matter; NYT breaks story of torture tape destruction
    December 8, 2007: DOJ opens preliminary investigation into torture tape destruction

    Inclusion of stuff like this is just padding the parcel with newspaper clippings. I hope the judge asks them who they’re trying to fool.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The interviewee gets to determine the evidence the interviewer gets to review? Why is it that the CIA’s “cooperation” with this inspector general looks more like obstruction?

  11. kgb999 says:

    January 9, 2003 is also the date that Mora finally forced a meeting with Haynes and the legal councils for the Joint Chiefs, the DoD and most branches of the Military. He presented evidence of abuse at GTMO (compiled by Dr. Gella based on interrogation logs) and left Haynes with the Gallotta report indicating Dec. 2 authorizations may be illegal.

    Mora also had meetings about the topic with aids for Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld on the 8th.

    (According to the Armed Services Committee detainee report)

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