From the Blogger’s Basement on Jane Mayer

Since Spencer asked, I read Jane Mayer’s piece this morning while sitting at my kitchen table eating mr. ew’s "best in the world" sourdough pancakes (from our homegrown sourdough), syrup from my syrup guy out in Mason, my butcher Bob’s amazing breakfast links, and locally roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. Though I admittedly read it while still wearing the t-shirt I had slept in.

Aside from the bloggers-on-cheetos slur, there were some interesting bits in the story. Mayer catalogs the changing fortunes of Mitchell and Jessen’s torture boondoggle.

In April, Panetta fired all the C.I.A.’s contract interrogators, including the former military psychologists who appear to have designed the most brutal interrogation techniques: James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. The two men, who ran a consulting company, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, had recommended that interrogators apply to detainees theories of “learned helplessness” that were based on experiments with abused dogs. The firm’s principals reportedly billed the agency a thousand dollars a day for their services. “We saved some money in the deal, too!” Panetta said. (Remarkably, a month after Obama took office the C.I.A. had signed a fresh contract with the firm.)

According to ProPublica, the investigative reporting group, Mitchell and Jessen’s firm, which in 2007 had a hundred and twenty people on its staff, recently closed its offices, in Spokane, Washington. One employee was Deuce Martinez, a former C.I.A. interrogator in the black-site program; Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association, was on the company’s board. (According to Kirk Hubbard, the former head of the C.I.A.’s research and analysis division, Matarazzo served on an agency professional-standards board during the time the interrogation program was set up, but was not consulted about the interrogations.)

I’ll note that April was the same month that the ICRC Report, SASC Report, and Ali Soufan’s first public statements came out (all of which specifically implicated the contractors). It’s amazing how quickly a little sunshine can make outsourcing torture unsustainable.

Mayer also notes something I’ve been sensing too–that John Durham’s investigation into the torture tape destruction may well have to investigate the reasons why the CIA had to destroy the tapes, most notably all the torture they did before OLC had authorized it.

A prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department, John Durham, has convened a grand jury in Washington to weigh potential criminal charges against C.I.A. officers who were involved in the destruction of ninety-two videotapes documenting the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and other detainees. Mickum told me that he has met several times with Durham, and believes that the scope of his inquiry may have expanded to include a review of whether the C.I.A. began using brutal methods on Zubaydah before it received written authorization from the Justice Department. (This would provide an extra motive for destroying the videotapes.) Mickum said, “I got the sense he was very serious.”

Other than that, it really takes a thorough reading of the whole thing to get a handle on Obama’s wavering approach to stamping out torture.

77 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not wed to it. Though this sounds like wavering to me:

      But Obama’s message has been uncharacteristically muddled on the question of accountability. He has said that Attorney General Holder should be the one to decide whether to take criminal action; he has also said that he would support further congressional investigation, as long as it was done in a bipartisan fashion. At the same time, he has signalled that he has no appetite for “looking backwards,” and in late April, during a private White House meeting with congressional leaders, he rejected the idea of an outside truth commission.

      And this is the bit that I expect will change it–unless (as I think will happen) an “executive investigation” started under Bush ends up bringing indictments that might lead further.

      It turns out, however, that Panetta initially supported the creation of a truth commission. “I’m not big on commissions,” Panetta told me. “On the other hand, I could see that it might make some sense, frankly, to appoint a high-level commission, with somebody like Sandra Day O’Connor, Lee Hamilton—people like that.” The appeal was that Obama could delegate to others the legal problems stemming from Bush Administration actions, allowing him to focus on his ambitious political agenda. “In the discussion phase”—early in the spring, before Obama decided the issue—“I was for it,” Panetta said. “Because every time a question came up, you could basically say, ‘The commission, hopefully, is looking at this.’ ” But by late April Obama had vetoed the idea, fearing that it would look vindictive and, possibly, inflame his predecessor. “It was the President who basically said, ‘If I do this, it will look like I’m trying to go after Cheney and Bush,’ ” Panetta said. “He just didn’t think it made sense. And then everybody kind of backed away from it.”

      Ken Gude, an associate director at the Center for American Progress, who specializes in national-security issues, and who has close ties to the White House, believes that Obama’s instinct, like Panetta’s, was to set up a truth commission of some sort. “I think the political staff walked it back,” he says. “They said it would be a distraction.” Obama’s political advisers dread any issue that could trigger a culture war and diminish his support among independent voters. They also see little advantage in picking a fight with the C.I.A. But the decision to discourage an accountability process, Gude says, has backfired. The Administration has lost control of the story, as revelations about C.I.A. misdeeds have continued to emerge through lawsuits and the press. “It’s now become the distraction they wanted to avoid,” Gude says. “The White House briefings have been dominated by questions about releasing documents and photos.” It’s understandable, he says, that Obama wouldn’t want to spend his energy on Bush’s mistakes. But, he warns, “they can’t leave the impression that they’re trying to cover it up.”

      • bmaz says:

        I saw that. I think if you analyze Obama’s rhetoric, you can make the case out for wavering. However, if you analyze his actions, save for the release of the OLC memos, he has been remarkable consistent. Even on the areas, like FOIA, where he showed initial promise, he is now going consistently the wrong way. I would argue that the OLC memos release was an isolated attempt by him to throw a bone and he likely regrets even that now.

        And, will nobody rid me of fucking Lee Hamilton commissions? Please.

        • bmaz says:

          And I would like to point out that I am cranky because I didn’t have

          mr. ew’s “best in the world” sourdough pancakes (from our homegrown sourdough), syrup from my syrup guy out in Mason, my butcher Bob’s amazing breakfast links

          And to add insult to injury, I am being peppered via email by masaccio from his vacation enclave in the French countryside where he is lounging and eating chocolate. It is all very disconcerting to a hungry bmaz!

  1. phred says:

    120 employees? That’s a lot of learned helplessness or abused dogs. Either way, it’s not pretty. Someone needs to review 120 personnel files for explicit job descriptions and travel vouchers. Since DoJ appears to be too busy defending DOMA, maybe we can ask PETA to look into it…

  2. behindthefall says:

    Did they pick the dogs up from shelters? Or did they do the abusing themselves? If the latter, under whose ethical review guidelines?

    And what happened to that whole company and the people who headed it: just kinda went “Poof”? And just what was “Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association” saying to himself while all this was going on? And what does he have to say for himself these days?

    (I would not be a bit surprized if some of these people can’t be found.)

    • emptywheel says:

      I guess it’s easier to destroy records if you close the whole boondoggle.

      Though I guess they already destroyed the key records, didn’t they?

      • behindthefall says:

        These people seem to have come so badly adrift from humanity that I wonder if their real bosses — presumably also adrift — did not decide that human memories also should be expunged: no man, no memory.

  3. JimWhite says:

    they can’t leave the impression that they’re trying to cover it up

    Sheesh. I’d hate to see what would be going on if they were trying to give that impression, because it certainly looks that way from here. “Look forward”, “no prosecution for those following legal orders”, “state secrets”…and on and on…

  4. phred says:

    Gude says… “they can’t leave the impression that they’re trying to cover it up.”

    As Gude indicates, the WH has already given the impression that they’re trying to cover it up. The question now is whether they will act to change that impression. Gude implies they have to, but we have yet to see any evidence of that.

  5. maeme says:

    bmaz; I am right with you girl. Lee Hamilton is a daily phone call to Dick Cheney on any commission he has ever been involved with since day one.

      • Lindy says:

        I hope you can find and post it. This is what interested me most:

        …lawyers for the man suing Mr. Yoo, Jose Padilla, say it provides substantive interpretation of constitutional issues for all detainees and could have a broad impact.

        • watercarrier4diogenes says:

          Glennzilla has a “Various Items” post up this morning with an item in it on this ruling:

          (5) I hope to write more about this with time permitting, but this decision (.pdf) by Bush 43-appointed federal Judge Jeffrey White from Friday — refusing to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla against John Yoo, which alleges that Yoo violated numerous constitutional rights of Padilla’s by virtue of his torture and other memos — is both extremely significant and very well-reasoned.

          Well worth a complete read.

          • Lindy says:

            Thanks for the link. IANAL, so I have a hard time slogging through some of these rulings because a lot of the language is specific to them. It helps to have others weigh in.

          • bmaz says:

            And Lindy too – I am reading it now. A lot to digest, a whole lot to digest. Will probably write something on this, but it is going to take a while. I’ll say this, the tenor of the opinion sure reinforces my statement Friday on the Jeppesen case:

            … this is the 9th circuit bitchez, not one of your jimmied up east coast gigs.

  6. Rayne says:

    Just occurred to me as I finished the lead on Mayer’s piece:

    We haven’t heard a peep out of Deadeye and his Baby Mini-Me since the Comey emails surfaced last week.


    What a coincidence.

  7. lurkinlil says:

    Panetta acknowledges that there are some people still at the C.I.A. who may be tainted by the torture program. Nevertheless, he says, “I really respect the people who say we shouldn’t have gotten involved in the interrogation business but we had to do our jobs. I don’t think I should penalize people who were doing their duty. If you have a President who exercises bad judgment, the C.I.A. pays the price.

    (my bold)

    And what price has been paid by the detainees for this bad judgment, especially those who are/were completely innocent, especially those who are now dead or permanently damaged mentally and physically, especially those who have lost their jobs/property/reputations/? And what of their families, what price have they paid? The most we can get our government to say is “Oops, we made a small mis-step (not really a mistake), c’est la vie. You can trust us to do it better next time. We’re just going to put this in the closet and keep it as our little secret. Let’s move forward.”

    No, we don’t want to penalize anyone for what has been done in the past.

    Ya know, if I hung my dog from a hook in the ceiling, starved him and then waterboarded him, I would go to jail for it. But I guess it’s OK when it’s done to people.

    • phred says:

      the C.I.A. pays the price

      Yeah, that is a pretty shocking thing for Panetta to say isn’t it?

      For all the brouhaha about empathy with respect to Sotomayor, there is a stunning lack of it extended to people who we brutalized and murdered. Sometimes the things that aren’t said, say the most.

      • Rayne says:

        On the other hand, one might wonder exactly how rogue the agency would have gone if some white hats in the agency hadn’t worked to rein in the black hats, Cheney-bots and contractors…

        • phred says:

          Perhaps, but given the excesses of the CIA over decades now, it seems like the white hats never manage to keep the black hats in check. I think we would be better served if we dismantled the CIA and started over. Portraying the CIA as the injured party isn’t just ridiculous, it is an insult to our intelligence.

          • skdadl says:

            Is “more poignant and convincing” Helgerson’s phrase (as Mayer makes it sound) or Mitchell’s (or some other CIA source’s)?

            To me, that article is a too-smooth presentation of too much that leaves me rigid with anger and scorn, over and over again. Thugs who think they are the best and the brightest but who turn into crybabies when it turns out that they were supposed to have something a little more substantial between their ears than a bleeding OLC opinion. But “it’s not fair!” — the universal wail of the overprivileged brat who never grew up and doesn’t expect to soon.

            And then there’s Panetta’s faith in his new improved rendition program, this time with extra-strong double-acting promises from the Egyptians and the Syrians and the Pakistanis that they will make nice as they work as proxy interrogators for him and Obama. Panetta sounds like a simpleton, frankly (although that could be a ruse), but more important is why? Why does the U.S. need to kidnap people who aren’t Americans and send them somewhere else to be interrogated? Why?

            I keep trying to write more usefully about this article, but I can’t. phred @ 40 is right — the whole system is an insult, to our intelligence and more, to our humanity.

              • skdadl says:

                I thought so. I admire Mayer so much most of the time, but for some reason, this article bothered me, not just because of the content but because of the way she smoothed things out.

                I guess I just like it better the way we do it here, peeling the onions. She is synthesizing conclusions, and she skims over so many details that really hit us hard, day after day, as you laid them out here. That is one that matters — it matters that it be read right.

  8. BoxTurtle says:

    OT: For those of us who are Maple fans, I’ll let you in of a secret known only to a few residents of Maple producing states.

    If you go to a grocery, you’ll usually see three types of syrup: Light medium and dark, all grade A. Grade A is what is exported from the maple producing states to the rest of the world.

    Grade B dark is what we keep for ourselves. Much more intense maple flavor, somewhat sweeter, and much darker. The folks who deride grade B as “cooking syrup” either do not know of what they speak or they obtained some improperly produced/labeled/stored grade B syrup that was bitter. Grade C is cooking syrup.

    Boxturtle (Poor Bmaz…I doubt there’s any grade B syrup in his entire state)

    • behindthefall says:

      I never quite was convinced that Grade A Extra Pale was really the best-tasting but attributed that to a lack of discernment on my part. Nice to hear your opinion agrees with my palate.

  9. Petrocelli says:

    *tsk* *tsk* … 31 comments in and not one request for “The Greatest Sourdough Pancakes” recipe …

    I hope masaccio told the French that he’s a Canuck … they may add some pretty weird things to their recipes,
    for Murkans

  10. Jeff Kaye says:

    An interesting article, but some uncharacteristically sloppy fact-checking by Jane Mayer. Mitchell-Jessen did indeed close their Spokane offices, but as Sheri Fink at ProPublica reported, they now share an office address with huge contractor Tate Inc. — Later today, on the regular FDL site, I should have an article up that examines the world of contractors for torture, and how they mutate and transform from one entity to another, all while piling up the big dollars (far more than $1000 a day). The article will specifically look at that in the light of how the torture program unfolded. (Sorry to pimp your article, Marcy, but I think it’s relevant in this case.)

    Also, Jane got this wrong, and in a way that disturbs me, because it covers up (I presume unintentionally) a salient piece of U.S. history. Describing the fate of “independent” CIA directors, Ms. Mayer wrote the following:

    In 1995, President Clinton appointed John Deutch, who had previously served at the Pentagon. Deutch tried to improve the oversight of clandestine operatives after evidence surfaced that an agent in Guatemala had covered up two murders.

    In fact, the “agent” was a CIA contract killer who was also a military intelligence officer in the Guatemalan army, Colonel Julio Roberto Alpirez. Alpirez was fingered for not up killings, but having directly ordered the murder of the husband of Jennifer Harbury. Furthermore, this “agent” and the military he belonged to, used death squads and other military means to kill 100,000s of Guatemalans, death squads the CIA was implicated in either running or countenancing. This scandal was exposed by a Democratic congressman, and Deutch didn’t just try to improve oversight, but fired about 100 CIA personnel. The CIA revolted, and Deutch was gone: enter Tenet.

    I wrote about all this just weeks ago, though no reason to believe Mayer saw it.

    While Mayer writes of Panetta’s support of renditions, Panetta’s weak assurances of safeguards don’t impress. And when later in the article, Panetta’s idea of some elite govt interrogation team is bandied about, no link is made to the fact that the likely scenario is that CIA returns to its pre-9/11 norms of outsourcing torture to foreign nations. Perhaps the aim of the article is to get us to make the connections.

    But with CIA I suspect we’ll get what seems to have happened with the SASC revelations of Pentagon torture: a redacted report, a partial hang-out, and no follow-through on filling in the missing pieces, and certainly no accountability for those responsible, who simply slip away like teflon ghosts into the shadow-filled night.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks for the additional context (Mayer does have a word limit – an advantage of cheetoh based commentary over Ensure-ance based efforts)

      I wouldn’t say Obama has been wavering – he’s lied and parsed and when he was faced with what he thought were his thoroughly ground down, under his bootheel “subjects” who “had to” support him in anything bc The bogeymanRepublicans were so much worse and there was no other option – faced with them calling him on his lies, he had to cough up bits of phlegm encased truthiness now and then to keep from having to actually do anything about all the things he promised to do “something” (but nothing all that specific) about. It’s like the mindless yammering about “closing” GITMO from the primaries on, when the “critics” weren’t seeing a flashing neon OPEN sign as the problem with GITMO and yet it allowed him to ever have to pony up and deal with the actual problems. Then we he did – by keeping tribunals, opting for forever detentions, shipping people around the globe without concern for CAT, blocking info with states secrets invocations, etc. he wasn’t technically breaking a promise, just breaking from rhetoric to reality.

      I got pretty estranged from some pretty nice people who didn’t want to fess up that their response to Obama’s rhetoric was a lot like Bush’s followers’ responses to his rhetoric. Obama has used transparency-accountability/vote for me a lot like Bush used Iraq/9-11; juxtaposed, but not connectedy by any thread of logic or fact.
      Re the article – So Feinstein fought the battle to make sure Kappes stayed (Senator Feinstein insisted to Obama Administration officials privately that Kappes continue as deputy director; it was a condition of her support for Panetta), because, after all, why not when as Feinstein notes for Mayer:

      “There’s no vote that I regret more than the vote to authorize war with Iraq”; her vote was based on intelligence that she describes as “flat wrong.”

      Wouldn’t want to get away from the guys who did their masters bidding to bring you the “flat wrong” info. I’m sure that means Feinstein will take her investigation wherever it should go. Or not.

      Then there’s Panetta emphasizing to Mayer that he ain’t be supportin no torturers

      [Pannetta]said that when he took over the agency he “wanted to be damn sure” that there was nobody on the payroll who should be prosecuted for torture or related crimes

      Whew – what a relief to find out that, just like the telecoms and NSA on the wiretap program, there was no one who committed crimes who should be prosecuted for committing crimes. Like, oh, maybe this chick:

      The C.I.A. has apparently done nothing to penalize the officer who oversaw one of the most notorious renditions—that of a German car salesman named Khaled el-Masri. He was abducted while on a holiday in Macedonia, and flown by the agency to Afghanistan, where he was detained in a dungeon for five months without charges, before being released. From the start, the rendition team suspected that his case was one of mistaken identity. But the C.I.A. officer in charge at Langley—the agency asked that the officer’s name be withheld—insisted that Masri be further interrogated. “She just looked in her crystal ball and it said that he was bad,” a colleague recalls. Masri says that he was chained in a freezing cell with no bed, and given water so putrid that he could smell it across the room. He was threatened and stripped, and could hear other detainees crying all around him. After several weeks, the C.I.A. officer in charge learned that Masri’s German passport was not a forgery, as was originally suspected, and that he was not the terror suspect the agency thought he was. (The names were similar.) Even so, the officer in charge refused to release him. Eventually, Masri went on a hunger strike, losing sixty pounds. Skeptics in the agency went directly over the officer’s head to Tenet, who realized that his agency had been brutalizing an innocent man. Masri was released after a hundred and forty-nine days. But the officer in charge was not disciplined; in fact, a former colleague says, “she’s been promoted—twice.” Masri, meanwhile, has been unable to sue the U.S. government for either an apology or damages, because the courts consider the very existence of rendition a state secret—a position that the Obama Justice Department has so far supported.

      How super nifty keeno kewl for Obama and Panetta that they don’t have anyone who should be prosecuted to deal with.

      How do we know that? Bc of the standard Panetta asked Helgerson to use:

      According to Panetta, Helgerson, who is not a lawyer, assured him that no officer still at the agency had engaged in actions that went beyond the legal boundaries as they were understood during the Bush years

      This gets to what, IMO, was the problem that Comey had with the “combined” opinion. EW – I saw your earlier comment and I may well have said that, that Comey’s problem might have been the fact that it allowed waterboarding to continue. My big problem with the “combined” opinion, though, I know I have mentioned and I think the emails reveal it was something that likely bothered Comey too.

      I’ve stressed the nature of the opinions being given in Bybee II and the Bradbury May 10 opnions as being “reliance opinions” instead of what Bybee I was. What happens in the combined memo, though, is that the full ficitions are abandoned and in a various devious way. Yes, they do dig into some specific fact patterns involving Ghul, but unlike the specifications in Bybee II and the first May 10 opinion, where they at least try to say that the torture is being reserved for those who are “high value Al-Qaeda (morphing after Yoo into a broader grouping) terrorists with “operational” info etc., the “combined” memo does something much worse. Way worse.

      In the middle it abandons any pretense of talking about High Value Detainees and says, “hey, since ya know, all this stuff we’re doing isn’t torture and all, and since it doesn’t shock the conscience and since it doesn’t violate the 5th and 8th, we can do it anyone, right?” Anyone. Anyone detained for any reason, without regard to their being a “high value” detainee or not, or having ties to terrorist organizations or not.

      I’m pretty sure this was at least one thing Comey mentioned, and definitely on thing that stuck with Ullyot, given the email references to Ullyot’s observation that he understood Comey was worried that the Combined memo might set the boundaries for “prototypical” interrogations. (Comey indicates that is only one thing he’s concerned about)

      So that is how you get Helgerson and Panetta able to say that there is no one at the CIA who should be prosecuted for anything, even in a story that mentions the multiple promotions of someone who should directed the kidnap and disappearance and torture of a man while his family fell apart – even while knowing him to be wholly innocent.

      Again, combine that May 10 memo on what is acceptable for any detainee, bc it is not “torture” and doesn’t shock the conscience etc. (per the May 30 memo) for other standards, and you tell me what that does to something like Fitzgerald’s allegations in the Burge case, that Burge lied about *torture* What do we know about how Fitzgerald’s boss has defined torture? You know that OLC thingy? The “mini-Sup Ct”

      And apparently Panetta’s concern is not whether there is anyone to prosecute, even under the Bush “anything goes” standards (with the torture deaths that Mayer points out, which hardly seem to be things that can be argued as not-torture under things other than Bybee I’s “killing while interrogating isn’t like, *real* killing dude” non-intent fiction.) but instead whether torture murders etc. are “still at” the CIA.

      So someone like this guy is not a big deal, if he’s not still working for the CIA:

      In November 2002, a newly minted CIA case officer in charge of a secret prison just north of Kabul allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets … By morning, the Afghan man had frozen to death

      the guards buried the Afghan, who was in his twenties, in an unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery used by Afghan forces, officials said. The captive’s family has never been notified; his remains have never been returned for burial. He is on no one’s registry of captives, not even as a “ghost detainee

      Unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery – umm, is that what Sadaam called his war crimes burial sites too? Unacknowledged cemeteries?

      Mayer talks about that killing and others in the Panetta article, but not in the context of specifically asking Panetta what he is doing about them – or how Panetta could give Helgerson credibility if Helgerson was saying that those torture killings were authorized.

      Umm, that “high value detainee” aspect that supposedly Bybee II and Bradbury I required? From the Priest story:

      The Afghan detainee had been captured in Pakistan along with a group of other Afghans. His connection to al Qaeda or the value of his intelligence was never established before he died. “He was probably associated with people who were associated with al Qaeda,” one U.S. government official said. Probably knew someone who knew someone, so it must be ok to torture him to death, ghost him and dump the body in an “unacknoweldged” war crimes site.

      That agent, back at the time of Priest’s story, was getting promotions as was the CIA agent in charge of the Italian debacle. I don’t know if they are still there, but certainly nothing in Panetta’s standards would prevent them from being there. All the CIA rapist really needs to come up with is how he was softening up his rape victims with rape as one of his “preliminaries” to later questioning and blackmail and he’s off the hook under Panetta’s “standards” too. Thank God for standards.

      Oh, and from the earlier thread, I have to wonder looking at the CIA briefing list which of those briefings on EITs informed the ranking members about the guy that was frozen to death and dumped in a war crimes pit? Bc Priest says they were told:

      Shortly after the death, the CIA briefed the chairmen and vice chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees, the only four people in Congress whom the CIA has decided to routinely brief on detainee and interrogation issues. But, one official said, the briefing was not complete.

      Was that the Feb briefing? Or one not on the list (3 mos could be “shortly” but so could something shorter). And why was the death not filled in to the full committee if it was a the result of an “intelligence gathering” operation? And if it wasn’t – if it was a “covert action” were was the finding allowing for disappearing someone with no proven al-Qaeda ties and torturing them to death? And was it the early torture murder, coupled with the CIA memo that a big chunk of the GITMO detainees were innocent (both occuring in the later half of 2002) that set a big part of the secrecy stage? Bc you really might want a war in Iraq and diversions at that point, esp with the CIA already tied to the killing of an American infant and his mother in Latin America.


  11. TheraP says:

    the changing fortunes of Mitchell and Jessen’s torture boondoggle bondage

    This is the way my mind read it. So I conclude that my unconscious mind hopes(?) that the guys who started out torturing are now in bondage to torture.

    I gotta admit I like that idea. Since they made sure detainees would be haunted by PTSD, it’s only fitting that now they should be haunted – by what they set in motion.

    @34: I never believed that $1000/day figure. I’m guessing more like $2500-3000/day.

    And if consultants morph, it’s just like the right wing organizations do it.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Re payscale

      Here’s a look at what the number one contractor for JPRA/SERE/Special ops charges for a “Consultant 8″, $173.25, per hour (M.S. degree or higher) (and these rates likely very similar to M-J):

      Provides independent oversight advice to executive management for overall contract operations, often involving multiple projects/tasks and groups of personnel at multiple locations. Responsible for advice to senior level management within the client organization. Required to be aware of overall program status, including all relevant projects and their potential impact on organizational strategic vision. The consultant plans, organizes, and oversees work efforts, assigns resources, manages personnel, provides risk management, ensures quality management, and monitors overall project and performance. Minimum experience 15 years.

      So, an 8-hr day, no overtime, or extra pay for work abroad, per diem, etc., or negotiated danger pay, or whatever, is $1,386 for a day’s work.

      • Rayne says:

        Well, that’s one way of stripping off all the overhead from a 120-person business and hiring just the two “highly-qualified” people a business wants…while not pissing off the rest of the existing staff in the business since failing to post jobs like this to the outside looks like targeted hiring of cronies instead of hiring competitively.

        I think I’m going to have to modify my billing rates upward after reading that job posting. Damn, I can do that and I crack one hella cat-o-nine-tails, too.

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Btw, I cannot find M-J listed on the GSA contracts database, or other databases. I’m assuming the $1000 day figure is something link, something accepted. If anyone has a link to the actual info, that would be helpful.

          But since that torture program was likely a special access program, as EW has made clear, the details would have been made inaccessible to regular scrutiny. They may have charged $5000 a day, who knows, really?

          Or payment can be in kind, or in future promises, etc.

          As with government in general, it’s just enough, perhaps to know that you’ve joined the gravy train, and that there will be plenty enough to go around for years and years and years, as the “war on terror” will never end (hurrah!).

          And because I’m feeling generous, and if anyone wishes to follow up, the old Spokane phone number for Mitchell, Jessen and Associates, (509) 624-6657, can also be found to be the same as that for RS Consulting, and the Safe Travel Institute (where old M-J partners hang out with other SERE and FBI personnel). The latter is definitely in business: “Who We Are”.

          This is not just about incestuous connections, IMO, but the kind of obfuscation re entities that one finds with CIA proprietaries, e.g., all share the same addresses, similar phone numbers, board members, etc.

          • Rayne says:

            Whoops, I had a comment disappear on me…anyhow, I wonder if you’ve looked at Tate’s contract history within GSA and other databases.

            I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tate “absorbed” M-J.

            Also wonder whether the professor might be kind enough to offer a pointer or two about where to look. Prof’s been awfully quiet of late, though.

  12. fatster says:

    In case this hasn’t been linked yet:


    Cheney almost wishing US was attacked, Panetta says


Published: June 14, 2009 
Updated 11 minutes ago

    “Dick Cheney’s attitude towards the Obama administration’s national security policies suggests the former vice president secretly wishes the US was attacked, says Leon Panetta, the U.S. director of central intelligence.

    “In an interview published in the latest issue of the New Yorker, the head of the CIA expresses frustration at Cheney’s speech last month, on the same day that President Obama outlined his national security strategy in a separate speech.’…..etta-says/

    Here’s the New Yorker link:…..fact_mayer

  13. SaltinWound says:

    Remember Plame, when this all started (for me)? In that narrative, we thought of the C.I.A. as the good guys. Bmaz, I took the bait and clicked. Marcy didn’t have the seriousness of purpose I expected.

  14. kbskiff says:

    My guess why the torture tapes were destroyed.

    The tapes show these very people hired by our government committing murder.

    How much you want to bet someone has copies to cover their ass? Smart move if you ask me because once the dam breaks it all will come out in a deluge. Those criminals who conspired with those who actually committed the murders and designed the cover up such as Rove and Cheney will find that they aren’t as smart as they thought they were.

    • plunger says:

      Those tapes also reveal the presence of individuals in command positions and instruction positions from countries other than the US. These techniques were taught.

  15. Jeff Kaye says:

    Furthermore, when I checked only a few weeks back, Tate Inc’s website was listing two open positions for a “SERE Instructor.” SERE refers to “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape,” a training program the U.S. military offers to help personnel prepare for enemy capture.

    With no one really held accountable for what went down, it’s only business as usual… with modifications.

  16. Petrocelli says:

    “… the whole system is an insult, to our intelligence and more, to our humanity.” – skdadl

    Well said, skdadl !

    I thought the new guy understood this.

    • skdadl says:

      Petro, read through the list of irresponsible spoiled-brat thugs who have survived in that agency, plus the chummy apologies they are still making for one another, and I think we have to give up on the new guy.

      An aside: Do we think that the “friend of Brennan’s” who snerks at bloggers early on is Emile Nakhleh, later named as friend of Brennan? Whoever he is, that guy can’t have any of my lightly steamed locally grown organic asparagus, boy.

      • Mary says:

        I don’t think so, but ? Nakhleh did the Aug memo on all the mistakes at GITMO and in the print interactions I’ve read doesn’t come across that snippy/petty/silly. That sounds more, imo, more like someone who is into the cowboy parts of the CIA. And who is really good at never saying that Brennan wasn’t tied in with torture, just that anyone who might care would be a cheetoh muncher, not someone who’s son or daugher lost an arm or a leg or a mind in the ME war that torture helped cooked up, or someone who watched the military decay from the inside as it was turned into a torture implement, or someone who is counting the bodies of the Bush/CIA war of choice, or someone …

        Whatever. It’s not a comment from someone who is really serious about anything other than personal affiliations.

  17. Jeff Kaye says:

    I wonder if you’ve looked at Tate’s contract history within GSA and other databases.

    Yes, and you should see the some of the results of that research in my very next posting.

      • MadDog says:

        I did, read it, and I’m almost positive there was no mention of wearing underwear (as he reluctantly dons a pair).

        Standards of attire at Emptywheel’s. What is the world coming to when one can’t blog in the altogether? Sheesh! *g*

  18. phred says:

    Mad “Going Commando” Dog.

    Don’t go changin’ MD, we like you just the way you are… (wolf whistle, hubba hubba ; )

      • emptywheel says:


        I’m sorry–but if someone is imposing dress restrictions you take the Cheetos away from him and tell him to go back to his land of cocktail weenies.

        There is no dress restriction. Particularly not underwear…

        Jeebus–what they’ll try to shoehorn blogging into next…

  19. dustbunny44 says:

    Not sure I got all the details here, but it appears that a huge nest of, um, bad guys all recently lost their jobs. These kinds of dudes have a way of keeping their skills fresh by finding new places to practice ‘em – this country has a long history of putting together “necessary evildoers” that then go looking for evil to do when their current gig is up.
    Who’s keeping an eye on these jokers, or better yet, can someone give them some kind of “community service” to do to keep them from creating more havoc? For example, (and I’m making this up here to make a point) they might be kept off the streets by hiring them to advise our staff on ways not to torture, or teach how to survive torture to ranger schools, or something. Someone with more experience than me can find them the perfect job, but I truly believe it will be cheaper to hire them to be harmless than to clean up the harm they do if we just let them go.

  20. BayStateLibrul says:


    A new chapter in aversion theory…
    So, the Cubbies fire their hitting coach cuz their not hitting?

  21. scribe says:

    It’s wavering because, in the words of Lupica a month or two ago, Obama is a “pleaser”. His core operative principle is to make everyone happy. He wants everyone to be happy. Thus, the bipartisan unity schtick. The insistence that 80 is the new 60. The whole muddle that people persuaded themselves was 11-dimensional Vulcan chess mastery. And, speaking solely for myself and addressing my small contribution to the effort, while a lot of my commentary and analysis literally did come from a basement office, I was fueled by coffee and potato chips. Thick/wavy cut, salted, unflavored. And, sometimes, donuts. I don’t do Cheetos.

  22. lurkinlil says:

    oops, I guess you can’t use the tab

    those signs that say:

    No shirt, no shoes, no service

    Ever wonder why they don’t mention pants?

  23. pmorlan says:

    The Senate Intelligence Committee recently embarked on its own, closed-door investigation of the torture program; Panetta told me that he has been assured that the committee members’ work “would be about lessons learned, as opposed to going after people.”

    Now this sounds more like the Diane Feinstein we all know and love to hate. I wonder if they’ve given anyone immunity yet?

  24. eqbal00 says:

    This does seem unlikely:

    The firm’s principals reportedly billed the agency a thousand dollars a day for their services… According to ProPublica, the investigative reporting group, Mitchell and Jessen’s firm, which in 2007 had a hundred and twenty people on its staff, recently closed its offices, in Spokane, Washington

    How are they gonna support 120 people on $1K a day in their core line of business? No wonder they made changes.

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