Was Porter Goss Briefed on Things Pelosi and Harman Weren’t?

I decided recently that it was time to re-read George Tenet’s book.

And given all the recent discussion about CIA briefings, I was a little surprised to see this paragraph pertaining to early discussions with the UK on the Iraq war.

In May of 2002, my counterpart in Great Britain, the head of MI-6, Sir Richard Dearlove, traveled to Washington along with Prime Minister Blair’s then national security advisor, David Manning, to take Washington’s temperature on Iraq. Sir Richard met with Rice, Hadley, Scooter Libby, and Congressman Porter Goss, who was then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. (309) [my emphasis]

The paragraph almost appears to be a non-sequitur. The previous paragraphs discuss the series of meetings in 2002 that discussed the challenges of war in Iraq, without first addressing the question of "whether" war in Iraq was a good idea. Then the two paragraphs directly preceding this one pose the question, "When did you know for sure that we were going to war in Iraq"–but they focus on July 2002, not May. And the paragraphs following this one discuss the July 2002 Downing Street Memos amd Dearlove’s explanation to Tenet that he had concluded at the July 2002 meeting that war was "inevitable." (They also describe Dearlove disputing Libby’s allegations of a tie between al Qaeda and Iraq.)

So ostensibly, at least, this paragraph about May 2002 might be there for contrast–the previous meetings with which Dearlove was comparing the July 2002 meetings, after which he concluded there had been a "perceptible shift" and the war was definitely going to happen. Except that Tenet offers no details about what was said at that May 2002 meeting (note, Tenet did not apparently attend). 

And regardless of the content of the meeting, what was Porter Goss doing at a meeting with the National Security Advisor, the Deputy National Security Advisor, Cheney’s henchman, and the UK’s chief spook? Was he representing "the temperature" of those in Congress on a potential Iraq war? Or was he participating in the Administration’s early planning for that war?

I raise that question because of all the recent discussions about CIA briefings of Congress. This meeting occurred, of course, just as the Administration was implementing its torture program for Abu Zubaydah. CIA originally claimed that Bob Graham had been briefed on torture, twice, the previous month (April 2002). I have long suspected that Goss–the guy who would later have at least a tangential role in the destruction of the torture tapes that portrayed CIA torturing Abu Zubaydah before the Administration got formal approval from OLC–was "briefed" on torture in the April time frame, and that that was part of the Administration’s CYA for torturing without Congressional approval.

And then there’s the ongoing spat on the program that–Crazy Pete Hoekstra says–was "on-again, off-again" and as far as he knows never happened but which Congress was not informed of.

“If they’d done this thing and hadn’t told us about it, I’d be screaming from the tallest building in Washington,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “But it was on-again, off-again and never happened.” 

Yet it was Goss, not Hoekstra, who would have been the one informed in 2001 when the program "on-again, off-again" started. And Goss, of course, is a candidate to be among the "certain officers" who "have not adhered to the high standards held, as a rule, by the CIA with respect to truthfulness in reporting."

Mind you, Tenet doesn’t appear to be describing a briefing here. But the description of Goss’ attendance at this meeting suggests it may not have been a matter of briefing with him so much as participation in the early planning.

For the Iraq War. And perhaps for other things.

  1. alabama says:

    I’ll admit I’ve been too lazy to do the homework: is Goss an old retainer/friend/fundraiser of the Bush household?

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, he was a spook in Latin America in the 1960s, at a time when Poppy was at least tangentially tied to the CIA if not running the Cubans. Also at a time when SoA would have been actively, presumably teaching torture to Latin American generals. And, as Saltin noted, he had Yalie secret society ties to Negroponte and a Bush uncle.

      So, yeah, there was probably some trust there.

      • NewsNag says:

        Yes, Goss was in the CIA as far back as the early 1960s, in Latin America, and part of the agency’s free-ranging assassination group that was keeping Latin America safe from becoming a continent of democracies. And “once in the CIA always in the CIA” is not just a saying; it’s a fact. Remember also that CIA agent George H.W. Bush was in a supervisory role in the region, especially of the anti-Castro Cubans, whose activities intersected with the assassinations group that Goss was affiliated with.

        And there is that uncovered group photo of that assassinations group taken in a restaurant in Mexico City, which appears to show the young Goss living it up with his assassin buddies. The photo is used on the cover of a book by Daniel Hopsicker, a long-time investigator of such matters. Personally, after reading all of his books, I find him very credible, and also unique in his willingness to put himself on the line in this way.

        So, to me, Goss is the insider’s insider, and whatever nasty stuff Bush I or II was doing, he could be considered trustworthy by them to be on the inside.

        By the way, Marcy, perhaps Sir Richard Dearlove met with those people Tenet mentioned separately, rather than as a group. Just thought that possibility should be considered.

  2. klynn says:

    Mind you, Tenet doesn’t appear to be describing a briefing here. But the description of Goss’ attendance at this meeting suggests it may not have been a matter of briefing with him so much as participation in the early planning.

    Considering Goss’ intel history as well as history with the Bush Family, I agree.

    • NCDem says:

      I read through all the comments but I didn’t see an answer to your question. Actually, Porter Goss was “removed” and didn’t resign. John Negroponte took his place in early May and the President immediately issued a memo related to financial crimes that gave John Negroponte the authority to circumvent our SEC laws if he deemed it to be in our national security interests.

      Goss had been at this “spook” work for a long time and he had gotten sloppy in covering his trail. The plane crash in Mexico the previous month with over 4 tons of cocaine on board didn’t sit well in the WH once the plane was tracked back to our CIA. Very little was discussed in the national media on this other than at McClatchy’s but only after the second drug plane went down in Sept 2007.

      • plunger says:

        tail number 987SA was the second plane.

        Daniel Hopsicker’s Got The Scoop:

        Seventeen months after an American-registered DC9 airliner was busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine, a major international scandal is brewing over a second drug trafficking incident in Mexico’s Yucatan involving an American-registered jet owned by a dummy front company of the kind usually associated with the CIA.

  3. Arbusto says:

    The ease of providing different aspects or subtlety different analysis, etc in separate briefings for specific mindsets is ridiculous. It’s time for Congress to realize how it’s been played by past Administrations (and possibly current) and require written memos and recorded briefing, held in perpetuity for review.

  4. Loo Hoo. says:

    Marcy, you’ll have a golden opportunity to vote for Hoekstra! Who’s running against him?

    Bet Goss isn’t sleeping too well these days.

    • emptywheel says:

      The Dem candidate will be the current Lt Gov John Cherry (though my “aunt” is running). The other GOP candidates are the guy who got thumped by Stabenow in her last election and the former Secretary of State who is also in Congress (at least I thikn she’s still running).

      Obama’s got to appoint Granholm to something so Cherry can run as an incumbent and he should do fine, though without that plus DeVos’ money backing Hoekstra, it’ll tougher.

  5. Leen says:

    And Tenet keeps claiming he is being hung out to dry

    Judy “I was fucking right” Miller’s take on Tenet’s book
    “Mr. Tenet does not believe that the country was “lied” into the Iraq war by neoconservatives who twisted WMD intelligence, or “fixed” it, as Britain’s senior intelligence chief is said to have alleged inaccurately, Mr. Tenet writes. On this point, Mr. Tenet is emphatic: “We told the president what we did on Iraq WMD because we believed it.” “Those who say that we cooked the books or knowingly let the administration say things that we knew to be untrue are just wrong,” he insists. There was no pressure on his analysts, Mr. Tenet says, to produce the WMD intelligence that war advocates wanted, despite his complaints about “Scooter” Libby’s frequent visits to the Agency. “Intelligence professionals did not try to tell policy makers what they wanted to hear, nor did the policy makers lean on us to influence outcomes,” he says in another passage. “The consistency of our views on these weapons programs was carried forward to two presidents of different political parties who pursued vastly different courses of action.”

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, that’s one of the reasons I find it an interesting mention. While Tenet doesn’t go right after Cheney, he makes it clear they were running their own bogus intell shop. The reference to Goss seems innocuous but it might be a way to get stuff out there that Cheney doesn’t want out–such as that he was cooperating with Congress long before he claimed to be.

      • Phoenix Woman says:

        Did Doug “Stupidest F-ing Man on the Face of the Earth” Feith’s OSP apparatus end up getting absorbed into the CIA once it was officially disbanded?

      • prostratedragon says:

        Yeah. Good stuff below from a couple of commenters, too.

        I find nothing else in usual places about either Goss or a May 2002 meeting with the MI6 people, so that’s 2x good.

        Not to mention that no other critter’s name is thrown in there to make it look like potentially a routine, if informal, info session.

  6. ShotoJamf says:

    I don’t really understand why anyone would be surprised that the CIA (and all the other “intelligence” agencies, for that matter) might have lied to Congress.

    Here’s the deal: Intelligence agencies are set up to distort, deceive, and outright lie. That’s what they do. It is, in fact, one of their primary functions. Hearing that the CIA might have deceived Congress is like hearing that the sky is blue. What would be a real surprise is if we found out that they had been telling the truth all along. Now that would be a true revelation.

    • Raven says:

      I always felt the same way about torture. Why would they bother,just make up the shit they wanted and run with it?

      • Clothodi says:

        I believe the reason the Bushies tortured rather than just making shit up, as they were constantly doing anyway, is because they really, really wanted to torture. I think it’s some sort of power trip thing with them.

        • plunger says:

          My contention remains that they all watched it live on the flat screen in Cheney’s office, while being serviced by the Military Stud turned pseudo White House Report, Jeff Gannon/Guckert.

          Odds that Agent Gannon (”The Swallow”) knew more than Pelosi about the CIA’s covert activities? 100%

          Google: Sexpionage

        • prostratedragon says:

          That question, why not just fake it all the way is worth some thought. After all, either way, the truth was going to come out eventually anyhow.

          While your opinion of them is no better than mine, consider that what passes for organizational aims could also be accomplished by an torture program, as opposed to a mere fake evidence factory:

          * An inner circle is created, which, furthermore, is of necessity bound by an almost self-enforcing secrecy oath.

          * Stray bits of info, comings and goings, and rumors of unusual activities might provide enough of a texture of something real going on to persuade skeptical but essential outsiders that there really is a pipeline of some kind and Cheney or whomever really does know important things that they don’t.

    • rapt says:

      Exactly right Shoto, and it follows that run-of-the-mill citizens aren’t intended to know any of their secrets. It further follows that therefore, freedom and democracy and all that stuff is just a big bedtime story.

      Then we must conclude that we the people have no business inquiring about intelligence affairs, as that is the role of their bosses only.

      Alternative: eliminate these secret agencies and their self-serving codes of silence, otherwise known as national security/classified/secret info that only the elite are privy to. Lets face it, secrets are mainly for warmaking, and that is precisely what these guys are there to do.

    • joanneleon says:

      It’s true that the CIA has a long history of deceiving or hiding things from Congress. In fact, if the accounts over the last decades are true, some do it for sport because of a mind set that they have no responsibility to keep Congress or even the executive informed of their activities.

      The reason I’m paying more attention to this new situation is mostly because of Rush Holt. There are very, very few politicians and/or members of Congress I would trust. But I think Rush Holt is serious about this and I believe he is telling the truth. He has said that they wouldn’t be doing this if it were a trivial matter. He also said that it has nothing to do with defending Nancy Pelosi. Last night he talked about it being a matter of national security, the country’s best interests and that people could be hurt.

      Holt is big on privacy matters and I think he has as good a handle on matters in the CIA as any.

      So, I’m paying attention to what Holt is saying when he makes statements to try to get a sense of what’s going on.

  7. whitewidow says:

    Catching up on a few posts, nice job on the Al Haramain post, bmaz.

    Speculating on what “the program” is:

    He [Crazy Pete] argued that what he’s “really concerned about is when [our intelligence agencies] take an action against a foreign country.” Congress should then be briefed and “have an opportunity to stop [the] program if we think it’s inappropriate to move forward…”

    So that seems to indicate it was not an action against a foreign country. Does that mean it was domestic? Or does that mean it wasn’t something that rises to the level of “taking an action”?

    Yet another “program”. Just how many “programs” are there, anyway? And how many more we still don’t know about?

    Alinaustex: Most speculation has centered on the Foggo/Wilkes contracting corruption as the most likely reason for the timing of Goss’ departure.

  8. plunger says:


    He’s GHW’s man inside. He knows things that almost NOBODY ELSE knows.

    In fact – he knows everything. Every dark secret since 1960.

  9. Rayne says:

    I’m afraid I have a massive headache I can’t shake, thinking is fuzzy today combined with scattered attention. I’m wondering how the Ghorbanifar contacts mesh with the on-again-off-again stuff, particularly since Hoekstra is involved (yes, I know, I’m obsessed with that particular line of questioning pertaining to Crazy Pete). Especially since the Ghobanifar timeline says,

    Early 2002: Luti and another DOD official tell Rhode activity had been shut off

    The May 2002 meeting cited in Tenet’s book is sandwiched between Hadley telling Ledeen and Feith to stop dealing with Ghorbanifar in January 2002, and a meeting by either Rohde or Franklin with Ghorbanifar in June 2002.

    Was Goss being included on efforts to destabilize Iran in concert with “generating” intelligence to support their efforts? Was Hoekstra a cut-out designed to present rationale for the efforts, long after the attempts to “generate” the intel needed had failed?

    No answer expected, just kicking the tires. Probably could think of an answer myself if my head wasn’t pounding so badly.

  10. fatster says:

    Just one more excellent article, EW. You are amazing, particularly that you make it seem so effortless.

    Good background info on the “Cheney assassination ring” or whatever it was/is for those wanting to know more.

    Lawmaker won’t deny secret CIA program was ‘Cheney assassination ring’


  11. fatster says:

    O/T: Leahy to be on the tee vee this weekend according to an email I just received. (The entire letter should be in italics, but I can’t accomplish that.)

    This Sunday, Senator Leahy will appear on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer to discuss Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s upcoming confirmation hearings.

    Face the Nation will air this Sunday, July 12. I hope that you will tune in to watch Senator Leahy!


    Carolyn Dwyer
    Campaign Manager
    Leahy for Vermont

  12. fatster says:

    Another little tidbit has appeared:

    “Schakowsky, D-Ill., said Friday that the CIA and Bush administration consciously decided not to tell Congress.

    ‘”It’s not as if this was an oversight and over the years it just got buried. There was a decision under several directors of the CIA and administration not to tell the Congress,” she said.”


  13. fatster says:

    Police to investigate Binyam Mohamed’s torture claims

    “The Metropolitan Police are to investigate claims that British agents colluded in torture, Scotland Yard said today.

    “Officers will look into allegations by Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, that MI5 officers were complicit in the treatment he received while being detained.

    “The case was referred to police by the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, earlier this year.”
    [UK Timesonline]


  14. Mary says:

    OT – EW, your, “With All Due Respect, Mr. President…” is on Harper’s “Linked”

    Sideways to topic – what I don’t understand about the spec on the program that was revealed being Cheney’s assassains is that the Hersh story puts them in DOD. I don’t see why that would be CIAs bailiwick to report on to Congress and why it would be CIA on the hook for that. I can believe that there might have been a program involving CIA too (esp with the Iranians who were disappearing) and that someone used the JSOC program to befuddle and launder the CIA program since it was more arguably a program that could claim it was not required to be briefed to its Congressional oversight committee.

    And now you have all kinds of competing things going out there, including some anonymous statements claiming it was not a covert program, whatever it was and some of which quite to the contrary claim t is linked in with Hersh’s older story. The main thing coming out of it all is that MSM, which sat silent on the earlier reports of Cheney’s assassains, are now chit chatting about it, right as Obama is talking about all the comity between the branches. I guess your own squad of assassains buys you a lot of “comity.”

    In any event, if the program wasn’t covert, then it should have been briefed to full committees. I don’t think it is the JSOC, esp if no one has been making noises about getting Levin cleared and briefed in as well. I can imagine something like domestic breaking and entering, warrantless premises searches stemming from the warrantless surveillance, but conducted domestically which might negate the covert aspect (maybe under a claim that they were in support of law enforcement?), or maybe efforts against US citizens overseas and pretty much anything, but I don’t see how the JSOC program would drop in CIA’s lap.

    • NCDem says:

      “what I don’t understand about the spec on the program that was revealed being Cheney’s assassains is that the Hersh story puts them in DOD. I don’t see why that would be CIAs bailiwick to report on to Congress and why it would be CIA on the hook for that.”

      Mary, I think DOD refers to “Domestic Operations Division” which was created under LBJ and used to monitor domestic activist during the expansion and then later protests of Vietnam. It still operates in CIA but is not well publicized because their disdain for actions of Congress are very well known. This is exactly the type organization that may insist that there crimes not be reported to the Congress for obvious reasons.

  15. MadDog says:

    I’ve been pondering the small bits of info the TradMed has been able to uncover on the latest CIA “mission” and it has lead me to this jumble of thoughts:

    CIA Director Panetta “reportedly” was first made aware of this program on June 23. He immediately halted the program, and then on June 24, he scurried over to Capital Hill to brief both the entire membership of HPSCI and SSCI.

    As a sidenote, HPCSI did not have a “scheduled” hearing/meeting that day, but it did have one scheduled for the following day on June 25.

    While the SSCI calendar shows a Closed Briefing: Intelligence Matters, based on their calendar, one cannot determine if it was originally on the schedule in advance.

    In any event, examine CIA Director Panetta’s actions on June 23. He gets his very first briefing on the program, and his first response is to shut it down, and right fookin’ now!

    And then he runs to immediately tell the Congressional Intel committees!

    Why, you ask, would Director Panetta take these actions, and in particular, with this amount of haste?

    Could it be that Director Panetta immediately understood that the CIA program he had first heard about on June 23 was not only way, way overboard, but was definitely fookin’ illegal?

    A very strange reaction, wouldn’t you say?

    Second, take a look at the reaction of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., (a Republican mind you!) as reported by the Houston Chronicle:

    …In a related move, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked the FBI to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing by CIA employees for the notification failure.

    “Only after this matter has received a full and thorough investigation can members of Congress be confident that they are receiving honest and complete information in their intelligence briefs from the CIA,” Issa wrote in a letter…

    (My Bold)

    Notification failure! But that’s not what the Houston Chronicle reported last night! From my comment then:

    …In a related move, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked the FBI to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing by CIA employees.

    “Only after this matter has received a full and thorough investigation can members of Congress be confident that they are receiving honest and complete information in their intelligence briefs from the CIA,” Issa wrote in a letter…

    No mention of “notification failure”!

    So which of the Houston Chronicle reports are correct/true?

    Assume for a moment that the one without the words “notification failure” was true.

    And ask yourself this:

    Why would Darrell Issa, a Republican write a letter to the FBI requesting a criminal investigation of the CIA in this matter?

    A Republican for heaven’s sake!

    Republicans who had no problems with extraordinary rendition to other countries for purposes of torture. Been there, done that!

    Republicans who had no problems with illegal indefinite detention without trial. Been there, done that!

    Republicans who had no problems with the illegal waterboarding torture of detainees in US custody. Been there, done that!

    What could be so illegal that even Darrell Issa, a Republican, would find it so far out of bounds that he would write a letter to the FBI requesting a criminal investigation of the CIA?

    Not the more normal histrionic speech of the floor of the House of Representatives, or even a quick phone call complaining to CIA Director Panetta, but a fookin’ letter to the FBI requesting a criminal investigation of the CIA!

    Something smells in Swamptown! Something big!

    • MadDog says:

      And to make my point further, there is no way that this program would have been shut down if it was legal!

      Notification be damned!

      And neither lack of effectiveness or ethicality would have prevented this program from continuing.

      Simply put, the program had to have been illegal!

      And the folks in the Bush/Cheney White House and the CIA who gave birth to it damn well knew it!

      Notification of Congress would’ve been the least of their problems. And you can take that to the bank!

    • Mary says:

      Yeah, and the kind of “criminal” investigation that the FBI can do for a “notification failure” would be odd, if the only notification statutory requirement was the NSA requirement, which doesn’t have much in the way of a criminal penalty associated with it.

  16. freepatriot says:

    porter goss is a fucking spook

    he works for the CIA

    I don’t believe a fucking word he says

    he’s a willing participant in the criminal conspiricy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity

    he’s a perpetrator, not a witness

  17. Mary says:

    I’m trending towards an illegal US breaking and entering program that accompanied the illegal US surveillance program. Wasn’t there odd stuff about the Oregon lawyer who was wrongly implicated in the Madrid bombings and strange guys going in and out of his office?

  18. maryo2 says:

    wiki says that Jose Padilla attended Masjid Al-Iman Mosque in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for most of the 1990s.

    Maybe this Domestic Operations Division broke into the mosque in Florida.

  19. MartyDidier says:

    ‘Cheney assassination ring’ RINGS have been in operation in the US for many years. I learned about the rings running in Illinois back in the 90’s from the family I was in who are directly involved in a huge International Drug system with a close link to the CIA. As stated back in the 90’s the Ring here was with designating three Hospitals as “Killing Machines”. Those targetted were someway through setup car accidents or poisining or harmful attacks made to be admitted to one of these three Hosptials. While there, the target was then given a dirt nap dose of something they never came out of. i was one of the targets in 2002 but realized from the family what was happening to me and able to remain safe, however a friend of mine’s close from of 10 years wasn’t so lucky. He was murdered and my friend and her family will testify in court to what happened. The Killing machines as a function here are supported by a large gang of Special Ops people and corrupt police involved in the International Drug smuggline system. This drug system has a purpose tied in with the CIA and Cheney that I’ve discussed in the past. It too will surface eventually.

    Meet the family:
    Mexico drug plane used for US ‘rendition’ flights: report – Sep 4, 2008

    Please note that Clyde O’Connor is my ex-wifes brother’s brother-in-law and business partner with their Florida business of air distribution.

    As this subject unfolds, expect it to mushroom into something that most everyone won’t be able to beleive. Hopsicker’s articles will help illuminate how huge this is, but again, there is a purpose behind what Bush did with WireTapping, the Drug system and many other things that still need to be understood by most everyone. We aren’t there yet but I’m glad it’s coming fast now.

    Marty Didier
    Northbrook, IL

  20. MartyDidier says:

    Added Information to my above Post!

    There are a handfuul of Huge Drug Lords in Illinois. The biggest is in McHenry Illinois who also runs a collection of Security Companies who emplor off duty Police and many others. Please note that this is part of an army of people who are tied in to protecting the Drug system. My ex-wife’s family are also Drug Lords as well as laundering money since the later 70’s somewhat tied into the CIA’s operations. Another Drug Lord also located in McHenry has an interesting twist since the founder a few years ago mysteriously died out west. Sure i believe everything. One of the biggest Drug Lords is in Florida who run a Fishery business. Some of my ex-wife’s family members took vacations on their boats.

    Marty Didier
    Northbrook, IL

  21. MartyDidier says:

    Hmmm — Sorry Pal there’s far too much evidence to say it’s to Conspiracy for anyone to ignore it any longer. And by the way, I’m not scared nor ashamed to post my REAL name, but certaintly you seem to be, while trying to make this into a Conspiracy issue! Why not show everyone who you are and stand behind yourself rather than hide behind “Hmmm”

    Marty Didier
    Northbrook, IL