CIA: A Different Kind of Derivative Trading

This is going to be one of my really weedy posts, but if it’s any consolation, I went crazy while weeding (in the garden) yesterday and accidentally pulled up a huge tomatillo plant that was just about to bear tons of tomatillos. So I’m suffering from having gotten myself lost in the weeds right now.

Back in June, I did a close review of which documents from its index the CIA had described for ACLU in its Vaughn Index (Part One, Part Two) of documents pertaining to events described in the torture tapes. It appeared that the CIA had included fewer documents from May–the period when CIA was fighting with FBI over control of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation–than it did from later in its document series.

By comparing the total index with the Vaughn index, though, we can get a sense of what the CIA did include. For most of the series of cables reporting to and from the field, the CIA submitted fairly regular cables–every 10, 11, or 12 cables. From June 22, 2002 through August 20, 2002, they appear to have submitted every 10 document, like clockwork (in addition to the handwritten log dated August 4). (It’s impossible to exactly identify a pattern from after that because so many of the cables are the same length, though it is possible that it sticks pretty close to the every tenth cable pattern.)

But things in April–when the FBI and CIA were fighting over control of the interrogation and Abu Zubaydah was reportedly cooperating with the FBI–and May–when the small box was introduced at least two months before OLC approved its use–things are a bit more irregular. In April, for example, the CIA submitted documents 1, 12, 1922, 32, 42 or 43, and 53 (plus the handwritten log, which was document 3); that gives you gaps of 11, 7, 13, 10, 10, 10, 10, and 10 documents (not including the log in the series). In May, CIA submitted documents 64, 65, or 66, 77 or 78, 89 or 90, document 99, 110, 123, 134, 146, document 155 or 156, ad 165; while it’s harder to pin down the gaps, there is necessarily one 13-document gap early in the month, a 9-document gap between May 8 and 11,  another 13-document gap between May 14 and 17, a 12-document gap between May 20 and 24, and one 9-document gap between May 24 and 30. 

In other words, whereas later in the series the CIA just provided every tenth document, for this early period, they cherry-picked what they submitted. [my emphasis]

I asked the ACLU why the gaps were irregular, they asked the CIA, and the CIA has finally answered that question. Here’s their response, with my comments about each response.

First, the apparent deviation from the "every tenth contemporaneous cable" portion of the sample is because (1) three of the entries from the mostly-cable section of the May 18, 2009 list were not cables, so they were skipped over (i.e., not counted) for the one-in-ten sampling; and (2) twenty cables were non-contemporaneous cables, so they were also skipped over for the one-in-ten sample. Second, as you surmised, the non-cable records identified on the May 19 [sic], 2009 list that were excluded from the Vaughn were excluded because they are non-contemporaneous (i.e., derivative).

Third, Vaughn item number 64 corresponds to document 568 on the May 18, 2009 list. Although the May 18, 2009 list refers to the document as an "outline," and the Vaughn index refers to the document as a "memo," both entries refer to the same document.

This explanation does provide a plausible explanation for the known gaps, though it identifies some interesting new communication patterns for key periods of Abu Zubaydah’s torture.

Let me start from the back: with Vaughn document 64. It was pretty clear that this document had to be document 568, as it was the only undated outline of 3 pages in length. But note, for the moment, the description of it:

Waterboard Summary

This document is a three-page memo which summarizes details of waterboard exposures from the destroyted videotapes. [my emphasis]

Next, this document made something clear that wasn’t clear to me before (but should have been)–the CIA succeeded in exempting documents it considered derivative. This goes back to their April 9 letter, in which they said:

The Government will not create Vaughn-like entries for the following categories of documents: documents that do not describe the interrogations but contain the raw intelligence that was collected from the interrogations, and derivative documents that merely summarize information contained within interrogation records.

So long as derivative records can be claimed not to relate to the reasons behind the destruction of the videotapes, nothing in Judge Hellerstein’s April 20 order requires CIA to hand over derivative documents. 

Which explains why CIA excluded all the timelines and outlines described in the index. I guess the CIA is making a (fair) distinction between notes made while actually viewing the videotapes, the waterboard summary above, and summaries of interrogation records themselves.

Bummer. Being deprived of timelines for me is almost as sad an event as ripping out my almost-bearing tomatillo plant.

Which brings us to the last (actually first) explanation the CIA gave ACLU–meant to explain why there are 13 and 11 document gaps in May, unlike the other months. They say, 

(1) three of the entries from the mostly-cable section of the May 18, 2009 list were not cables, so they were skipped over (i.e., not counted) for the one-in-ten sampling; and (2) twenty cables were non-contemporaneous cables, so they were also skipped over for the one-in-ten sample

By "mostly-cable section" of the index, I assume they mean documents 1 through 549 of the index. And, yes, there are three documents that are not cables: documents 3 and 255, which are handwritten interrogation logs included in the Vaughn Index as documents 57 and 58; and document 540, which was a memo sent from HQ to the Field at about the time that people started dying from torture in Afghanistan and close to the time the CIA stopped videotaping interrogations. That leaves 546 cables, of which they claim 20 are derivative, leaving 526 non-derivative cables. Altogether, they have included 53 cables in their Vaughn index, so they have sampled one tenth of those cables.

This appears to be a plausible (or at least convenient) explanation. As the second set of columns in this spreadsheet shows, if you take every tenth cable from the index as ordered, you always have at least a 10-cable break, with a number of 11, 12, and 13-cable breaks.

What that reveals, then, are certain periods during which the field was sending summaries of the torture sessions back to HQ in addition to original interrogation reports:

April 25 to April 28: One "derivative" cable

April 28 to May 1: One to three "derivative" cables

May 1 to May 5: One to three derivative cables (four total derivative cables from April 28 to May 5)

May 5 to May 8: Two derivative cables

May 11 to May 14: One derivative cable

May 14 to May 17: Three derivative cables

May 17 to May 20: One derivative cable

May 20 to May 24: One derivative cable

[break]

May 30 to June 4: Three derivative cables

[break]

June 8 to June 13: One derivative cable

June 13 to June 22: One derivative cable

[long break]

August 24 to August 31: One derivative cable

[long break]

September 22 to September 24: One derivative cable

The CIA was not cherry-picking. Rather, they had defined one set of communication as derivative and thereby shielded it according to the terms of Judge Hellerstein’s order. (Note, my math shows 19 of these derivative cables, though this method is error-prone). 

So the CIA was not–assuming these are derivative cables–withholding these cables improperly. But the communication pattern is interesting on its own right. It suggests that in the early period–particularly during the period when the FBI remained onsite–the Field was sending their normal records, and sending a second set of summary records. Perhaps they were sending updates to Tenet’s office in addition to Counterterrorism. Perhaps they were sending–say–the White House updates (though they do specify HQ). Perhaps the second set of cables were cables intended to be shared with the FBI (I can see why CIA would want to withhold those). Perhaps James Mitchell was sending updates to Bruce Jessen so they could plan more torture.

Whatever the explanation, these derivative cables seem to indicate a parallel set of communications during the early period of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation.

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  1. WTFOver says:

    President Obama’s Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp Task Force Will Miss Its Reporting Deadline

    A key report on closing the facility has been delayed until the fall

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/207596

    An Obama administration task force set up to develop a plan for the closure of the USA concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay will miss its first deadline this week — and put off a key report until the fall — amid continued divisions over how to resolve one of the president’s thorniest policy dilemmas.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The summaries of documents subject to disclosure would themselves seem necessary to disclose. While obviously prepared later than the original documents, it is important to see the patterns expressed in the summaries. They are not neutral, objective documents so much as they are prepared with explicit readers in mind. Hence, they may inconsistently include, exclude certain documents or portions of them or describe them in more or less useful or brutal detail.

  3. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    No disrespect to your lost tomatillo plant, EW, but this was totally worth it. My God, I have no clue how you ferret these things out:

    So long as derivative records can be claimed not to relate to the reasons behind the destruction of the videotapes, nothing in Judge Hellerstein’s April 20 order requires CIA to hand over derivative documents.

    Which explains why CIA excluded all the timelines and outlines described in the index. I guess the CIA is making a (fair) distinction between notes made while actually viewing the videotapes, the waterboard summary above, and summaries of interrogation records themselves.

    to deduce this:

    certain periods during which the field was sending summaries of the torture sessions back to HQ in addition to original interrogation reports:

    and end at this:

    Whatever the explanation, these derivative cables seem to indicate a parallel set of communications during the early period of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation.

    I’m just gobsmacked.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The CIA would have failed in its calling had it not devised a statistical method that appeared objective, but which protected from disclosure what could most hurt the agency or its patrons. Hence, classifying as “derivative” documents it wanted to shield from disclosure, or choosing a “random” selection number or statistical process only after it was determined that it shielded the most or the most sensitive documents.

    It’s the reverse of what government contractors do: write “objective” product or service bidding requirements, which only their product or service can meet.

    So I hope Hellerstein considers revising his order.

  5. Mary says:

    As a non-techie, how do the IMs that were supposedly also going back and forth fit in, if at all? Are they preserved or preservable? Apparently they aren’t referenced in the Vaughn index and I guess not preserved per se. So, if, for example, a derivative doc talks about Z not being an al-Qaeda operative, they wouldn’t necessarily deem that to be responsive since it doesn’t on its face relate to the reason for destruction, even though in context with a get out of jail OLC opinion that requires Z be an al-Qaeda member it might provide quite a bit of the reason for destruction?

    • emptywheel says:

      I asked the ACLU about that–they have not discussed the IMs yet with CIA. There were a bunch of other intell related docs that were also excluded. Or it’s possible they weren’t archived.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        When they have that conversation, will they make some clear criteria for IM’s that are text only, as opposed to say… IMs with video? Because if they don’t, this is going to continue going around and around and around… and people’s tempers will rise.

        FWIW: I hope Hellerstein is thoroughly, utterly, intensely cheesed with the CIA. Can he legally revise his request to demand that CIA include the ‘hidden info’ that you’re pointing to here?

        And it’s hard not to suspect that one of the sets of parallel communications didn’t lead straight to the Oval Office and/or OVP.

    • MadDog says:

      As a non-techie, how do the IMs that were supposedly also going back and forth fit in, if at all? Are they preserved or preservable?

      Depends on the systems in use, so the answer could be yes or no.

      On the “leaning yes” side, I find it hard to imagine that they were not if they were at all used for sending approval for individual torture techniques.

      If I were a torturer and my headquarters folks were giving me the go-ahead for individual torture techniques, I’d damn sure want a record of such approvals in order to protect my own butt.

      And remember, per the CIA’s List of Contemporaneous and Derivative Records (5/18/2009) (17 page PDF), there were no cables from HQTRS to FIELD until 5/28/02, so where were those fookin’ individual torture technique approvals?

      Were they via the IMs? Verbal? Not bloodly likely to be verbal, but see below.

      On the “leaning no” side, I could well imagine that the CIA’s organizational bias towards “not documenting” stuff would mean that by intention no records were kept.

      And as I’ve said here once before, it might have gone something like this:

      Mitchell, as a former Air Force officer of many years of service, would have come from a government environment where every fookin’ thing was documented in triplicate.

      Now Mitchell comes onboard to the CIA as his ultimate wet dream. But as a “contractor”.

      Mitchell assumes that his infantile James Bond-ish understanding of things CIA means that everything is hush-hush, and that nothing is ever put in writing.

      So Mitchell undertakes his role as Chief Torturer with relish and without the requisite “in writing approvals” that are going to eventually leave his butt hanging way, way out in the wind.

      Real CIA employees shake their heads, snicker and say “rather thee than me”.

      • Mary says:

        Thanks – it did sound like some of the IMs had videos too.

        The fact that they are just now being mentioned much makes me wonder if that mention is coming out a) because they do exist and with the admin change, some of those who know about them are going to start mentioning them if there are more investigations; or b) because they weren’t preserved and leave it open for different people to make different sorts of claims as to what was and was not in them, muddying the waters further.

        • Rayne says:

          Very, very skeptical that IMs had video; as I said in an exchange in earlier thread, there was a lot of hassle regarding IM standards ca. 2002, and video transfer would have required both ends sending/receiving have same standard along with adequate technology. (Buffering alone makes my head ache thinking about it.)

          Ditto for any emails ca. 2001-2003; we’d have seen indications of large non-document attachments.

          Or did we?

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Perfect? No.
            Problems? Plenty.
            But some preliminary format? I suspect that was the case.

            RealVideo is a proprietary video format developed by RealNetworks. It was first released in 1997 and as of 2008 is at version 11. RealVideo is supported on many platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, and several mobile phones.

            RealVideo is usually paired with RealAudio and packaged in a RealMedia (.rm) container. RealMedia is suitable for use as a streaming media format, that is one which is viewed while it is being sent over the network. Streaming video can be used to watch live television, since it does not require downloading the video in advance.

            You’ll note this option on CSPAN.
            Back in the day, Rob Glaser was VP for Multimedia for Microsoft, which he left to found RealNetworks. IIRC, it’s now in a combo meal deal with MS, after (I hear through at least 4 degrees of separation) their business interests finally prompted them to heal the rift.
            FWIW, Maria Cantwell, junior senator from Washington State, worked for Glaser. No, I never worked at RNWK, so don’t ask ;-))

            The Sorenson codec (also known as Sorenson Video Codec, Sorenson Video Quantizer or SVQ) is a digital video codec devised by the company Sorenson Media. It is used in Apple’s QuickTime and in Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash).

            The Sorenson Video codec first appeared with the release of QuickTime 3 on March 30, 1998. With QuickTime 4, it was given wide exposure for the release of the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on March 11, 1999. Sorenson Video 2 was released in March 1999; however, it mainly included minor improvements and optimizations to the Developer Edition of the encoder, as movies encoded with it were backwards compatible with the Sorenson Video decoder. An improved Sorenson Video 3 codec debuted with the release of QuickTime 5.0.2 on July 1, 2001.

            • Rayne says:

              Again, as I pointed out in a previous thread, we don’t know the platforms and there may have been several across which they were working. The platforms would dictate
              – the compression (and therefore choppiness) of the video, if any
              – the ability to receive video (there were so many different competing IM standards at the time, no one was the clear winner)
              – archival copies (IMs originally were real time communications that were not archived and a function of the OS)

              We also have no idea what kind of network they were working across; were they using signal getting transmitted over satellite at any time during transmission, or no?

              I think we’ve come to take video for granted since the emergence of YouTube only a mere two years ago; in the time frame in question it would have been far more choppy, halting, making satellite transmission of closed circuit video far more likely.

              We haven’t ruled that out yet, either; we had extensive exchanges dating back about January 2008 re: the possibility that somebody/ies at uppermost levels of the adminstration could have been watching live remote video.

              • alabama says:

                Bush gets his thrills watching torture videos. He probably kept copies of the very ones we’re talking about.

                How do you subpoena torture tapes from an ex-president? Could it be done? Is there a legal mechanism for doing this? It would certainly save a lot of money and time.

              • Gitcheegumee says:

                I really must be a masochist to be wading into tech territory,but here goes.

                Would ANOTHER country have had the technology to transmit these IM and/or videos..like maybe Israel,back then?

              • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                Yes, agree that we’ve come to take video for granted — at least, those of us who spend lots of time online.

                However, if you look at that White House culture of BushCheney and Rove, it was steeped in PR and imagery. These people (along with Scalia!) actually seem to think that ‘24′ is real. More real than life.
                How appealing that must have been for a craptastic group of intellectual ideologues who’d never, ever served in the military?

                At some point, they were using video. Take that to the bank.
                At what point, and how good the quality was, I don’t know.
                But recall that Goldsmith had said that in Oct 2003, he’d been to some site where they had Hamden and he saw him via webcam.

                No idea what the government did, or didn’t, have.
                But if I were Sen Jay Rockefeller, or Sen Whitehouse, or Sen Levin, or frankly if I were in the military, I’d want to know what the WH-OVP was running. And I’d want to know who was helping them, so I would have a general idea who might be most likely to blackmail or otherwise compromise.

                As for Addington, Cheney, Rice, Chertoff, I see no symptoms that it bothers them in the least. I think that many people really, truly were determined to ’stop terrorists’ even if they thought that it required torture.

                I think we live in a highly dramatized world where we think everything is instant; just look at the noxious hullaballoo over whether ‘Obama’s polls are dropping’ or whether Health Care will go down if it doesn’t pass this week. (Fear!! Anxiety!! Hopeless Despair! Booga-booga!) It’s almost a formula for making a lot more errors than needed to occur.

                Apart from the ethical issues, Congress needs to ask why better results didn’t occur. How did the US get sucked into a nightmare in the middle of the desert at 120 degrees? And how did so many make such profligate fortunes from it all…?

                And how did Porter Goss get away with overseeing the destruction of so much evidence? Whose butt(s) was he covering?

                • Rayne says:

                  I’ll have to poke around some time when I’m not working under a deadline, but I think we’ve quoted the reference to Goldsmith watching Hamden sometime in January 2008 after the announcement of an investigation into the missing tapes.

                  Could also be in Jane Mayer’s book as well as Goldsmith’s own book.

                  But I really thought Goldsmith saw Hamden on closed circuit video.

                  • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                    Found it, Rayne.

                    But if it was via webcam, then if the circuits were only in the physical facility it was limited to closed circuit on location. I’m skeptical that it would have stopped there. Also, no clue whether the webcams were backing up onto security DVD (which, I suppose, is how banks and merchants do it).

      • alabama says:

        Can we see where this is headed, if it didn’t get there long ago? High-priced ontractor malpractice insurance at the taxpayer’s expense. Two times over if the contracted torturer happens to be a licensed doctor or lawyer….

        • whitewidow says:

          Why, Alabama, I do believe you are a cynic:)

          OT-sort of

          Reading about Lamberth’s ruling about more CIA lying, I loved this line.

          “The court does not give the government a high degree of deference because of its prior misrepresentations regarding the state secrets privilege in this case,” Lamberth ruled.

          And then there’s this.

          Horn says he became suspicious when he came back from a trip out of town to find his government-issued rectangular coffee table replaced with a round one.

          Can anybody point me to any operation that the CIA actually succeeded at?
          Anyone? Bueller?

          • Mary says:

            The interesting part is going to be the heart of the underlying claim by Horn. His claim is that as a US citizen, the US gov couldn’t wiretap him in Burma without a warrant.

            DOJ has argued that, “sure we can” it’s like, ya know, when Bobby Knight goes to Panama. (was it Panama?)

            Anyway, if Lamberth finds a “no you can’t” instead of a “sure you can” then some real cracks are going to erupt.

  6. Mary says:

    they have not discussed the IMs yet with CIA

    That’ll be a lovely conversation. I’m wondering if the CIA can get some additional extensions out of Hellerstein, what with their attorneys all being tied up with trying to not have Lamberth find them in contempt or impose sanctions on them? And testifying about covering up re: the CIA role in killing a missionary’s infant.

  7. MadDog says:

    …So long as derivative records can be claimed not to relate to the reasons behind the destruction of the videotapes, nothing in Judge Hellerstein’s April 20 order requires CIA to hand over derivative documents…

    I’m not sure that conclusion is correct. I have a differing interpretation based on this part of Judge Hellerstein’s April 20 order:

    3. The Government shall produce records relating to the content of the tapes not merely from August 2002, but from the entire period of the tapes that were destroyed…

    Those derivative records are almost certainly “relate[d] to the content of the tapes”, hence they should have also been included in the sampling.

    That the CIA says they are “non-contemporaneous” or “summaries” is irrelevant with respect to the Judge’s April 20 order, notwithstanding the CIA’s intentions as described in their April 9 letter.

    The Judge’s April 20 order does nothing to recognize the CIA’s “non-contemporaneous” or “summaries” definition as entitled to withholding, so by the Judge’s own definitions, the CIA has not met his order requirements.

    • klynn says:

      Do I understand that you are suggesting the parallel docs are the text with video and they simply provided the text versions to the court?

      • MadDog says:

        I think you meant ROTL’s mention of IM text and/or video.

        I, myself, was only thinking text messaging, but perhaps I, who disdains even cellphones/cameras, should broaden my techie horizons. *g*

    • alabama says:

      Might there be a problem with the word “from”? Not in the phrase “from August 2002″, but maybe in the phrase “from the entire period that the tapes were destroyed….”? Where the first is punctual, the second is fuzzy; a distinction without a difference, perhaps, except that the CIA is looking for excuses.

  8. Mary says:

    Without actually knowing what is in the derivatives, it’s kind of hard to konw if they arguably go to “reasons behind” the destruction as well, isn’t it? And even on that, some things may not be obvious on the face of the derivative (it might not say, “hey – here’s a reason to destroy tapes) but may be implicit in it (as, for example, a summary that discusses reasons why someone is convinced that Z isn’t a high value al-Qaeda operative which, combined with the Yoo memo which specifies that protection against torture liability is premised on Z actually being a high value al-Qaeda representative, and you have a reason to destroy evidence. Or if you have derivatives talking about the realization of goals towards “learned helplessness” with its concomittant lasting impact, which would contradict the reasoning in the Yoo and Bradbury opinions of non-permanent or not lasting damage — you have a lot of things that might implicitly would go towards the reasons for the destruction, especially when combined with other documents.

    • emptywheel says:

      I agree–assuming those cables have a non-CTC audience, which is just an assumption but a likely one–then they would be very interesting indeed.

    • klynn says:

      Without actually knowing what is in the derivatives, it’s kind of hard to konw if they arguably go to “reasons behind” the destruction as well, isn’t it? And even on that, some things may not be obvious on the face of the derivative (it might not say, “hey – here’s a reason to destroy tapes) but may be implicit in it (as, for example, a summary that discusses reasons why someone is convinced that Z isn’t a high value al-Qaeda operative which, combined with the Yoo memo which specifies that protection against torture liability is premised on Z actually being a high value al-Qaeda representative, and you have a reason to destroy evidence. Or if you have derivatives talking about the realization of goals towards “learned helplessness” with its concomittant lasting impact, which would contradict the reasoning in the Yoo and Bradbury opinions of non-permanent or not lasting damage — you have a lot of things that might implicitly would go towards the reasons for the destruction, especially when combined with other documents.

      That is one wonderful comment when reading it after reading the bmaz post, CIA Fraud In State Secrets Assertions.

      This parallel set of communications now appears to be an attempt to commit fraud.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        This parallel set of communications now appears to be an attempt to commit fraud.

        Still catching up here, and would have run right over Mary’s point.
        Just a hat tip to all the ‘thinkers’ around these parts. My, oh, my.
        Now, to help FauxNewz understand that it is **emphatically NOT** about political partisanship.
        It’s about trying to figure out why we had leadership that got punk’d while pouring gas on the embers of ignorance, fear, tribal loyalties, and illiteracy.

        What a great way to undercut your own military; start a ‘parallel structure’ and only read in the people in your own tribal cult. Mindboggling.

        • libbyliberal says:

          I think we need both thinkers and feelers. Both contribute, those amidst the forests analyzing the trees. Those reporting on the forests from above and connecting the philosophical and/or moral dots.

          Shadow systems … in our military, in our banking and legislative systems … extra-judicial shenanigans to the point of massive sexual abuse i.e., torture program … and if we tiptoe carefully and not CALL it torture but “enhanced interrogation” we can live in at least semi-denial, crazymakingly dysfunctional, and protect our corrupt denying leaderships.

          Glenn Greenwald vs. Chuck Todd, revealed Todd thinks having a “passionate commitment to the rule of law” is an indication of ideological partisanship … liberal bleeding-heartism. Wow. So political elite is above the law so sayeth the corporate press.

          • Hmmm says:

            The emerging attempt to rebrand rule of law as a political position — and come to think of it, what other option do the cons and neocons and criminals of the W years have? — is pernicious in the extreme, and must be watched for and called out and argued down whenever it surfaces.

            • libbyliberal says:

              Hmmmm… thanks for replying to me.

              This quote came to mind from St. Thomas Moore (Paul Scofield in A Man For All Seasons)

              WILLIAM ROPER: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

              SIR THOMAS MORE: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

              ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

              MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

              ***

              And what winds are blowing now thanks to Bushco and all that deregulation thanks to Reagan and oh yeah, Clinton, etc. and now the man who talks the talk when opportunity beckons but feels no obligation to walk the walk.

              If lawlessness is not checked it becomes exponentially more horrifying.

  9. LabDancer says:

    ew- my recollection is that when you wrote on this earlier we- I remember me doing it and given I’ve no illusions about being among the brighter bulbs here I’m there were others- discussed the notion that there was really no reason to conclude that the communications listed on the Vaughn Index captured all form of communications from the field to higher-ups in Washington and surrounds.

    So I don’t think that part of your post comes as any sort of shock — tho characteristically you back it up with solid circumstantial evidence [no snark intended; many a trial lawyer will tell it’s often the best type].

    Nor does it seem shocking to learn that whatso we all here call tomayto Bushies out there all call tomahto and decided unilaterally to call the whole thing off self-define the limits of what information and materials would be relevant and ‘responsive’.

    What’s shocking — or would be — is if this arbitrary separation of cherries from tomatitos were permitted to continue.

    • emptywheel says:

      The big tomatillo got confused with a mustard weed hiding behind the winter squash plant (either buttercup or acorn, I don’t know which) that replanted from last year and has taken over the neighborhood.

      But i guess you were talking metaphorically.

  10. Mary says:

    So maybe video?

    Maybe even a primitive version of a torture interrogation truthfulness calculator?



  11. Hmmm says:

    Thinking about IMs. If it turns out that the message contents themselves were not preserved, then I wonder whether it would be possible to FOIA or otherwise obtain any of the metadata from those IMs, for example the “to” or “from” address(es), or the times of day. Times of day could be compared to, for example, the Secret Service records of where Dick was. “To” addresses could be compared to account holders in the WH or OVP.

    • Rayne says:

      This line of questioning is the best and most likely to yield early fruit.

      If it works the way I believe it does, we’d know right to the exact machine the message was sent to.

      But you know that’s the bit they’d redact.

      Gitcheegumee (37) — doubtful. We still have a technology bottleneck. For instance, MPEG-4 technology didn’t debut until spring of 2002, meaning it would not have been deployed in an approved system.

      What we can’t prove right now is that they were using non-approved, non-secure channels — but we’d still have technology bottlenecks.

      edit: damn, where are all the geeks this week? could really use some messaging gurus…

      • Hmmm says:

        But you know that’s the bit they’d redact.

        True. Further, it might help explain the impounded and made-inoperable HDs in the missing-emails anti-investigation. Come to think of it, since I think the beams may have crossed here (torture vs. missing WH emails) it might be worth comparing the Missing WH Emails Timeline to any specifically known torture dates. (Though most likely some energetic person here has already performed that cross-check.)

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        I had read an article about Israeli wiretapping.
        That would unlikely have any reference to the IM’s being discussed here,
        but in the general interest,I’ll post a snippet of the article that delineates the systems used,just for the record.

        “There is a reasonable explanation for Israeli support for expanded wiretapping inside the U.S.: Narus/Verint/NICE (surveillance) systems

        The NSA has long relied on Israeli produced wiretapping systems for much of its domestic telephone/e-mail intercepts that are gathered through CALEA-mandated diverters put in place by the phone companies beginning in the 1990s. Much of this equipment is manufactured by NARUS, VERINT, and NICE, companies founded and still operated by retired Israeli signals intelligence officers.

        The US has a number of information-sharing arrangements with foreign “countries. The ECHELON program run jointly with the UK is most widely known. Under the USA-UK system, the US and British Commonwealth countries reads and shares each others intercepts, in order to evade laws limiting domestic wiretapping.

        Israel also has an interest in maintaining its commercial and intelligence-gathering interests in the United States. The potential downsides of such an arrangement are obvious – it’s appalling that this issue hasn’t been openly addressed until now except by James Bamford and a few retired intelligence officers.”

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          he US and British Commonwealth countries reads and shares each others intercepts, in order to evade laws limiting domestic wiretapping.

          Israel also has an interest in maintaining its commercial and intelligence-gathering interests in the United States.

          But BushCheney didn’t know about AIG FP in London…?
          Who wants to buy oceanfront property atop Mt. Rushmore?

  12. fatster says:

    Reports, reports, reports. Where are our reports?

    Two key Gitmo reports delayed an additional six months
    BY RAW STORY 

Published: July 20, 2009

    “A task force appointed by President Barack Obama to craft detention policy in the wake of his decision to close Guantanamo Bay will take another six months to release their recommendations.

    . . .

    “At the same time, the administration official and the Justice Department said another detainee task force, this one charged with examining interrogation policy, would receive a two-month extension for its report”


    “>Link
    .

  13. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Okay, long ‘comment’ takes from several EW Timelines:

    The one in this post
    Portions of TortureTapeTimeline from 2002
    Portions of the Missing WH Emails Timeline, which basically says that during the time period covered in this post there was a changeover and lotsa stuff went missing.

    —————————-

    Disappearing WH Emails Timeline: Late 2001 to early 2002: White House deactivates ARMS system put in place by Clinton Administration to archive emails.

    Disappearing WH Emails Timeline: Between 2002 and 2003: White House converts from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.

    April 25 to April 28: One “derivative” cable

    April 28 to May 1: One to three “derivative” cables

    May 1 to May 5: One to three derivative cables (four total derivative cables from April 28 to May 5)

    TortureTapeTimeline: May 2, 2002: The US “un-signs” the International Criminal Court treaty.

    May 5 to May 8: Two derivative cables

    TortureTapeTimeline: May 8, 2002: Jose Padilla taken into custody based on material warrant signed by Michael Mukasey and based on testimony from Abu Zubaydah.

    May 11 to May 14: One derivative cable

    May 14 to May 17: Three derivative cables

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

    May 17 to May 20: One derivative cable

    TortureTapeTimeline: Mid to Late May: Ali Soufan leaves interrogation because of “borderline torture” (threat of small box confinement).

    May 20 to May 24: One derivative cable

    TortureTapeTimeline: May 28, 2002: CIA HQ sends cable to Abu Zubaydah’s interrogators.
    [break]

    May 30 to June 4: Three derivative cables

    June 8 to June 13: One derivative cable

    June 13 to June 22: One derivative cable

    TortureTapeTimeline: June 25, 2002: Moussaoui arraigned.

    TortureTapeTimeline: July 10, 2002: Date of first interrogation report from Abu Zubaydah cited in 9/11 Report.

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

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

    TortureTapeTimeline: Late July 2002: Bybee discusses SERE with Yoo and Ashcroft.

    TortureTapeTimeline: July 24, 2002: Bybee advised CIA that Ashcroft concluded proposed techniques were legal.

    TortureTapeTimeline: July 26, 2002: Bybee tells CIA waterboarding is legal. CIA begins to waterboard Abu Zubaydah.

    TortureTapeTimeline: July 31, 2002: DIA issues second report doubting al-Libi’s confession of Iraq-al Qaeda ties.

    TortureTapeTimeline: August 1, 2002: “Bybee Memo” (written by John Yoo) describes torture as that which is equivalent to :the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

    August 24 to August 31: One derivative cable

    TortureTapeTimeline: September 4, 2002: Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi briefed on OLC memos, not told Abu Zubaydah had already been tortured.

    TortureTapeTimeline: September 11, 2002: Ramzi bin al-Shibh captured, purportedly as a result of intelligence gained through torturing Abu Zubaydah.

    TortureTapeTimeline: September 16, 2002: JTF 170 Gitmo attend training at JPRA’s SERE school.

    September 22 to September 24: One derivative cable

    TortureTapeTimeline: September 25, 2002: Jim Haynes, John Rizzo, David Addington, Jack Goldsmith, Patrick Philbin, Alice Fisher visit Gitmo and Charleston (Padilla) and Norfolk (Hamdi) brigs.

    —————————-

    FWIW, when I read that July 13, 2002 entry I began to wonder whether anyone at DoJ had witnessed any interrogation video.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      FWIW, this combined timeline certainly supports the hypothesis that the torture began long before the war, at a period when someone may have wanted to extract some information that could be used as a premise for war — assuming that I’ve lined things up correctly using all EW’s hard work.

      (And wow, if I’ve messed up the coordinates, I certainly apologize!!)

    • emptywheel says:

      FWIW, the one I noticed right off (because of Mary’s training) is that September one that immediately precedes the field trip to Gitmo.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Indeed, I tried to highlight the names of what I regard as the most egregious attys on that item. (It does seem as if Philbin was mostly keeping tabs and making notes; he was in Ashcroft’s hospital room in March 2004 with Comey. Ditto Goldsmith. No wonder there was a rumble inside DoJ. And note also who else was there on behalf of the Dark Side: Haynes, Alice Fisher, Addington.)

        I didn’t mention that one b/c I already have been commenting wayyyy to much the past few days. But wow, this stuff has my brain buzzing with puzzlement.

        It’s weird, but I have this odd sense that somehow we’re actually really fairly close to some kind of revelations or epiphanies. And this post **really** added to that sense; things are kind of coming together and coalescing in very odd ways, slowly, one bit at at time. But it’s just strangely constantly unfolding in odd, strange little bits…

  14. Hmmm says:

    Thanks, rOTL.

    For whatever it’s worth, I wouldn’t expect the IMs to have contained video. It would seem a little better-suited to the (incredibly evil) situation to have had both (1) a continuous, secure 1-way video feed from cameras in the field to displays at HQ for observation (perhaps using USG secure video conferencing technology), and also (2) a 2-way IM link between field & HQ for instant approvals of each successive next step. Maybe on a Blackberry-type handheld device, or maybe on a computer, but most likely over a secure, wired connection rather than any sort of potentially interceptable radio link. That way, the whomever was approving could watch the whole show yet still be kept secret from everyone in the field room — their voices would never be heard, their faces would never be seen. If the incoming video were limited to video clips attached to IMs, then (1) those approving would risk missing the full picture, and (2) those in the field would have an extra task of editing the video down to clips before attaching it to the IMs. Under those working conditions, I’d doubt they would have had the time nor inclination for that.

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    @43 re: Missing Clinton documents

    http://government.zdnet.com/?p=4835
    ZDNET
    May 21st, 2009
    National Archives lost 2TB drive from Clinton years
    Posted by Richard Koman @ May 21, 2009 @ 5:13 P

    “The nation’s record keeper” – the National Archives and Record Administration – has lost a two-terabyte hard drive containing digital records from Bill Clinton’s presidency.

    In a statement, NARA said that it “takes very seriously the loss of an external hard drive that contained copies of electronic storage tapes from the Executive Office of the President of the Clinton Administration.” The agency said that it has reviewed its internal information controls and improved its security processes. (InfoWeek)

    It’s not just Clinton’s privacy that’s affected. It contains names and SSNs of an untold number of visitors. It contains snapshots of the hard drives of departing administration officials, information that had been stored on 113 4mm tape cartridges.

  16. libbyliberal says:

    George W. pushed hard to literally “brand” pledges at his frat house at Yale using a real branding iron. Yale Daily News got wind of it and protested and he was only allowed to use lit cigarettes and hot coat hangers. (disclosed in “The Bush Tragedy”) But he certainly carried out his yearnings to inflict pain and control and relive that rush of control and malice as empowered frat boy so many years later on a much grander scale. I’m thinking, maybe authorizing him to brand with the lit cigs and the hot coat hangers should have been re-thought by the Yale university authorities? I’m just sayin’…

    Cuz being POTUS gives you lots of power to push the envelope doesn’t it, and rank has so much power that he and Cheney and company got exponentially diabolical about this kind of cruelty. Monstrous cruelty, and all the following people met up in meetings to discuss repellent and immoral acts and illegal acts and to authorize them as “administration policy.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/b…..hies-role/

    Senate Intelligence Report Notes c/o John Sifton:

    “[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”

    [snip]

    “On July 13, 2002, according to CIA records, attorneys from the CIA’s Office of General Counsel [including Rizzo] met with the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [Bellinger], a Deputy Assistant Attorney General from OLC [likely John Yoo], the head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice [Michael Chertoff], the chief of staff to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [Kenneth Wainstein], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] to provide an overview of the proposed interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah.”

    The Senate Intelligence Committee “narrative” directly points to then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in particular as the person who gave the first approval for the use of torture techniques on behalf of the White House: “On July 17, 2002, according to CIA records, the Director of Central Intelligence [George Tenet] met with the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], who advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.”

    In the spring of 2003, the DCI [Tenet] asked for a reaffirmation of the policies and practices in the interrogation program. In July 2003, according to CIA records, the NSC Principals met to discuss the interrogation techniques employed in the CIA program. According to CIA records, the DCI and the CIA’s General Counsel attended a meeting with the Vice President [Dick Cheney], the National Security Adviser [Rice], the Attorney General [Ashcroft], the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the Counsel to the President [Gonzales, again], and the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [Bellinger, again] to describe the CIA’s interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. According to CIA records, at the conclusion of that meeting, the Principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy.”

    FWIW…

  17. researcher says:

    best kept secret in the nation

    republics deserve their leaders, their cia’s, their military, their industrial military complex, their health care system, their educational system, their corporations, the list is very long. oh forgot their politicans and their lobbyists. yes even harry reid and yes even george bush jr.

    but hey it isnt it fun to blame others.

    this is capitalism at its best or worst depending on your ability to create wealth.

    “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty which are embodied in one maxim: the fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” Bertrand Russell.

    how few how very few in america understand russell’s words. even most progressives dont have a clue what he is saying above.

    ok that is enough for one day.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      this is capitalism at its best or worst depending on your ability to create wealth.

      After the implosion of the Soviet Union in the last 1990s, a lot of punks, jerks, fearful asshats, criminals of assorted varieties, and twits viewed ‘capitalism’ the way that Cargo Cults view the mythical, benevolent ‘John’: they thought if they became ‘capitalists’ they could be rich, rich, rich and the milk and honey would flow like oil from a Saudi spigot.

      ‘Capitalism’ was used as a front for criminal activity, sometimes out of ignorance — and sometimes deliberately.

      ‘Capitalism’ is a lose term.
      Your use of ‘capitalism’ as an excuse to abandon all moral judgment is, IMHO, exhibits a popular, lazy claim to be lazy, predatory, and dumb.

      ‘Capitalism’ as a functioning system that can allocate resources and share wealth so that ‘everyone does better when everyone does better’ needs to be recovered.

      In the last 60 years or more, ‘economics’ became ‘mathematized’ and the underlying social and cultural aspects were ignored by well-paid, arrogant cretins who made a very good living doing a lot of math, which then allowed them to ignore the social consequences of commerce.

      Derivatives are a way to **disguise** actual, true value.
      Until we rid ourselves of ‘economic fictions and lies’ and figure out accurate pricing systems that account for TRUE costs and genuine value, we’ll be stuck in a polluted, politically toxic mess.

      Lecture for the a.m. now over; off to your next class.
      But homework could include some Soros, some ‘Adam’s Fallacy’ some http://www.amazon.com/Supercap…..38;sr=1-1, and — since we all love a nice, yummy dessert, some Nomi Prins.

      And if the thought of all that reading intimidates you, click over to youtube and search on some of those titles or authors. You are in for a treat. (And when you get done with those titles, you have Paul Hawken waiting for you.)

      Prins will be at the FDL Book Salon this fall with her new book; you might enjoy one of those events, but read the book first.

      You strike me as someone who hangs out in the back of the class with a pack of cigs dangling from your pocket, a couple of ear piercings, and a few tattoos. Those sometimes turn out to the brightest students, and they often start off with insults.

      EW is a Master Instructor, so stop with the snotty attitude and get your brain moving.

      Okay, before EW and bmaz bust my ass, I’m done.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        The link between ‘Adam’s Fallacy’ (as in ‘Adam Smith’s Fallacy’) and Nomi Prins leads to Robert Reich’s terrific ‘Supercapitalism’.

        Political systems are usually extravagant rationalizations for economic systems.
        We have rot in both, but they tend to originate in flawed economic thinking.
        Like all errors, they can be corrected.
        But first, you have to know how to spot the errors.