Your Daily WaPo Torture Apology Debunking

I will say this for today’s daily installment of the WaPo torture apology. The WaPo’s two spook reporters, Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick, at least note–in paragraph 10–that having Buzzy Krongard speak for everyone at CIA might not be logically valid.

It is impossible to extrapolate from the small sample contacted by Washington Post reporters about the effect the varied inquiries are having on the thousands of agency employees, more than one-third of whom are spread around the world. But among the dozens of officials who were part of the program and either remain active or have retired, feelings run high about how the White House and the Justice Department have handled the issue. 

But they never get around to challenging Buzzy and their other sources themselves. They never point out that a lot of the whining their sources do is either transparently bogus or just plain whining. And they present numerous sources from the CIA itself debunking the cries of low morale from the torture apologists, yet still let the torture apologists dictate Pincus and Warrick’s conclusion that the torture investigation has and will devastate CIA morale.

Take the claimed worries about whether the legal advice from one Administration carries over to another one.

A much-discussed question is whether the legal reassurances of one administration carry over to its successor. "When a previous administration says something was legal, and the next says it doesn’t matter, the result is hesitancy to take on cutting-edge missions," the former senior official warned. 

I can’t count the number of times that Obama Administration officials have stated that no one who followed John Yoo’s transparently bad legal advice will be prosecuted, but here’s how Eric Holder reiterated that point in his announcement of the investigation.

Further, [the men and women in our intelligence community] need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

Yet Pincus and Warrick simply print that complaint, without pointing out the entire premise of it is wrong.

Then there’s an anonymous spook’s attempt to establish a false equivalency between the non-release of the DOD abuse photos and last Monday’s release of documents with all non-detainee names protected and the announcement of a review of the abuses portrayed in the documents.

Another former top official said senior managers detect a double standard. He pointed out that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. supported Obama’s decision not to release photos of military abuses of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq because they would harm military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The warning that CIA operations would be made more difficult were disregarded," former official said. 

Never mind that a better parallel with this recent release is the release of the SASC report–which like the IG Report, catalogued abuses, kept the most extreme of those redacted, but included no pictures. Never mind that the CIA already destroyed the closest equivalent to the detainee abuse–the videos of Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri being tortured; recall they did so using precisely the excuse that CIA officers’ identities had to be protected even though they probably destroyed the tapes to hide crimes. Never mind that, as with the DOD abuse photos, DOJ has thus far refused to release the sole photograph–a picture of Abu Zubaydah from October 2002–included in this FOIA. Never mind that some of the deaths have been investigated on the military side, only to find that the CIA, not the Navy Seals, killed the detainees in question.

The simple fact is that DOD has already undergone more scrutiny for its role in detainee abuse than the CIA, without wailing like babies that their entire world is collapsing (which is not to say they don’t deserve more scrutiny). Yet Pincus and Warrick let their sources make this false equivalency unchallenged.

And then there’s this weird claim, that the Administration thought the torture story would be a two-day story.

One former senior official said President Obama was warned in December that release of the Justice Department memos sanctioning harsh interrogation methods would create an uproar that could not be contained. "They [the White House] thought that it would be a two-day story; they were wrong," this official said. 

That’s funny. Because Holder, at least, was disappointed that the release of the memos was just a two-day story.

But they’d miscalculated. The memos had already received such public notoriety that the new details in them did not shock many people. (Even the revelation, a few days later, that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and another detainee had been waterboarded hundreds of times did not drastically alter the contours of the story.)

Frankly, I suspect this story would be a two-day story going forward if Buzzy Krongard and Dick Cheney weren’t taking to every media outlet to bitch and moan.

Point after point after point in this article simply do not make sense.

Now, maybe Pincus and Warrick think they’re doing the torture apologists a favor by printing their patently false complaints with no challenge. But really. At some point, the portrayal of the CIA as a bunch of whiners inventing reasons to be hysterical is going to have a detrimental effect on the morale of those thousands of silent CIA employees busy doing their jobs.

90 replies
  1. perris says:

    we’ve been talking about this over at the lake;

    On Fox News Sunday: Dick Cheney. “Were the actions of some CIA officials appropriate or did they go too far in their effort to protect the country from another terrorist attack?”

    of course they wouldn’t think to frame this;

    “what if there were some CIA officials used tactics that they thought up in a depraved and sick mind only to satisfy their depravity, to which would have caused everyone in the person’s family and all their friends to become enemies of America, would you think THAT was a good

    first, he is a moron and wouldn’t even realise the question was directed at him and his actions, second his head would explode realizing the only answer to that question is “of course they have to be prosecuted”

    but no reporter today will ask this kind of double edged question, even when confronted with an enemy of this state like the dick

    here’s another question I wish some journalist would have the balls to ask this dick;

    “so, if you were subjected to these “techniques”, how long do you think it would take the interrogator to get you to admit you were the person responsible for the attack on the world trade center, that you were the mastermind?”

    “and for that matter, how long do you think it would take for that interrogator to get you to yell at the top of your lungs that torture is a crime and treason?”

    “and one last question, if you were subjected to these techniques, how much of this information that they gained would be accurate??

    • Mary says:

      I’m with you, but think we need to go with specifics.

      For example:
      Mr. Cheney, right now there is a trial in Germany involving a group of men who were plotting bomb attacks targeting US soldiers and US persons in Germany. They have confessed (without the use of torture) and have explained that in addition to the Iraq war, the ultimate factor pressing them to hate America and Americans to such an extent that they would plot these bombings is the US kidnap, disappearance and abuse of German used car salesman Khalid el-Masri, who shared the same name as a man tied to al-Qaeda. Angela Merkel, in an international press event, stated that America had admitted it kidnapped and abused Mr. el-Masri as a “mistake” but in the court proceedings in this country, the CIA has invoked states secrets to prevent Mr. el-Masri from being able to receive any redress for his kidnap and abuse, which resulted in his wife and children thinking he had either died or abandoned them.

      Why do you believe that we should allow the CIA to kidnap and abuse German car salesmen, even kill them, as has been the case of the victims of several CIA disappearances into black sites, and why do you think that it is patriotic to engage in disappearing and abusing innocent men and provoking bombing plots against US soldiers and American civilians?

  2. perris says:

    in discussion with sander0 over at the lake we were discussing why they destroyed the tapes, that being they didn’t want us to witness what they were doing…I had an epiphame;

    they destroyed the tapes so nobody could see the questions being asked!!!

    “was saddam in league with bin laden”

    even though they KNEW he was NOT…this is now clear as day to me, THIS is the reason those tapes were destroyed, among others of course but this was the biggy

    we even have testimony from one of the interrogators that that event actually did happen, whence cheney wanted a connection, they told him there was none and cheney insisted they “try harder”

    this line of questioning and things like it are the real reason they cannot show what’s in those tapes and destroyed them

    • slide says:

      The photos and tapes would also put a face on who is being tortured. We only have one face. Otherwise it all boils down to faceless people having been tortured.

      • perris says:

        we know people were gathered up who had nothing to do with anything, because someone wanted the ransom paid they turned in anyone

        if an assiciate pissed them off in a business deal they were turned in, if someone had someone else arrested for a crime they were turned in

        and these people were held and tortured for information everyone knew they did not have, for information that in most cases was to be made up at a later date

    • Mary says:

      That’s something that has been discussed here some (as well as the fact that the tapes likely showed no actionable intel and a lot of incorrect info being generated during the torture – a point bmaz has hit) This list of “what ifs” is pretty long, including that they might show the use/presence/assistance of contractors who aren’t covered by the OLC opinions, they might show foreign parties, etc.

      One I think about is that they might also include evidence of “other crimes.” We know that, beginning at least with the FBI investigation of Higazy, the approach was taken to use “threats” against family members within the control of torture regimes. We also know that we were having torture regimes pick up people willy nilly for us, in addition to our sending people to the torture regimes for torture, and we know the process became so ingrained that, despite the very firm war crimes standards involving hostage taking, the US military was engaging in widespread hostage taking with a special focus on children and women, in both Afghanistan and especially Iraq. We know there were lots of international and a few national media reports of the hostage taking of women by soldiers and we know that the Iraqi General who was tortured to death in the sleeping bag, after several days of uninterrupted torture, turned himself in because of the hostage taking of his children. We know that KSMs children were disappeared by the US for the purpose of using them in a torture program for KSM.

      So one possiblity would be that the waterboard sessions, involving an election to move the extremes, included references to things being threatened against or done to family members. And now, if anyone were perhaps to investigate the status of those family members, that status might reveal a lot vis a vis the statements made on the tapes. And whether those family members were in US hands or not, if the threats were originating in a US torture session, it would be indicative of US responsibility.

      But think about it – how long has it been now, with the news of KSM’s children open and obvious, and how many “torture” interviews and how many press conferences of how many people – and when does anyone in the MSM ever ask anyone with Gov for info on KSMs children? I think the old piece in the UK press, where they make the statement that we have a child psychologist with them at all times (and of course, we now know from the Yoo Bybee Levin Bradbury Comey concurring opinions that the legality of torture approvals was being premised on the presence of a psychologist). Then, nothing. Maybe that’s bc they wanted plenty of time to experiment on “rehabilitating” them if you wanted to go with innocuous, but no one ever mentions the mother of those children either. Or whether or not she had a psychologist with her as her children were carted off. Just like no one was mentioning al-Libi forever, and once a couple of noises were made, he’s conveniently dead.

    • timbo says:

      perris, I’ve mentioned it before and will say it again…there is a strong likelihood that the questions being asked (and the torture beating gained answers later used) as an excuse to invade Iraq. That would mean that all who participated and had that evidence were guilty of serious war crimes that have no statute of limitations.

  3. tjbs says:

    My take, watching dick, he’s sweating bullets. Give me my stomach medicine so I can finish watching this creep.

    • perris says:

      Give me my stomach medicine so I can finish watching this creep

      look into “oil of oregano”, a miracle drug it is but not a drug…no kidding, look into that

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Given how things are going, I figure there’s less than 1% chance that Cheney lives to see the inside of a courtroom.

        Boxturtle (Given all the folks running interference for him, he’d have to live to 120)

      • brantl says:

        Just make him a pretty little stone one, in transplants, you should stay as close to the original as you can.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Pincus and Warrick are likely writing this because their sources (and they are very well sourced) came to them and called in a bunch of favors. They need help controlling the story and if those two reporters want anything more than the time of day in the future they’ll keep making puff pieces like this.

    Cheney DOES look like a worried man. Perhaps he could use the oil of oregano suggestion. He says torture worked. Am I the only one that wants to scream at him “It doesn’t matter if it worked or not. It’s still illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional.”?

    Boxturtle (The man confesses to torture on national TV and ObamaCo ignores it)

    • oregondave says:

      I thought Pincus was better than that. One question that came to mind was, what did the copy look like before his editors got their hands on it?

    • ybnormal says:

      “Am I the only one that wants to scream at him ‘It doesn’t matter if it worked or not. It’s still illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional.’?”

      In my view it does matter that it doesn’t work.

      If a torturee says something, it cannot be assumed to be true without verifying in some other way. If some other way is available, then there’s NO reason to torture to get true information – just focus on whatever actually works.

      Here’s the rub; if then, there’s no reason to torture for true information, then why do it? I can only think of two reasons. (1) sadistic pleasure (2) getting a forced statement which is irrespective of truth, to support a pre-determioned agenda.

      EITHER one of these objectives is Morally Wrong.

  5. foothillsmike says:

    Osama bin Laden stated that he wanted to destroy our way of life. Cheney represents the realization of OBL’s dream.

  6. bmaz says:

    That’s funny. Because Holder, at least, was disappointed that the release of the memos was just a two-day story.

    No kidding; not to mention they took many days discussing what and if to release of the OLC memos, and then had another last minute delay to bullpen the deal some more, and the howlers were already screeching, before the docs were released. They did not go through all those trials and tribulations because they thought it was no big deal.

    Also, by some Google report, as of a couple of years ago, the CIA had about 25,000 employees with at least 6,000 in the DO side. The only ones these journalists found that were up in arms are the couple of dozen that might be implicated in crimes; how shocking that they are screaming. From that there is extrapolated to be a rift so divisive that the Company just cannot function? When there were so many others encouraging this accountability? This is just sloppy stenography.

  7. allan says:

    Love the way that Buzzy Krongard is quoted with no acknowledgement
    of his connection with Blackwater.
    I guess that’s what separates real journalists from mere “some bloggers”.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Worth considering Walter Pincus’s bio itself:

        Pincus returned to the Washington Post in 1975 where [he] specialized in writing about the CIA and the intelligence community. Pincus always defended the activities of the CIA and criticized Seymour Hersh for his “advocacy journalism” when he tried to expose the illegal activities of the agency. He also condemned the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and in February 1977, described it as “perhaps the worst example of Congressional inquiry run amok.”

        In 1979 Deborah Davis published Katharine the Great. Katharine Graham persuaded the publishers William Jovanovich, to pulp the book. As well as looking at the life of this newspaper proprietor, Davis explored the relationship between the CIA and the Washington Post. Davis also became the first journalist to expose Operation Mockingbird. She also named Walter Pincus as being one of the journalists willing to promote the views of the CIA.

        More to read at the bio link, such as Lawrence Walsh’s complaint in his book Firewall that Bush I used Pincus to spread disinformation on the Iran-Contra investigation. (Pincus, according to this link, had written Walsh was considering indicting Reagan, and pressuring Weinberger to turn state’s evidence on his former boss… none of which was true, but contributed to the final shutdown of the investigation under withering GOP attack.)

      • Nell says:

        Jeremy Scahill keeps harping on … Pincus’ son’s tie to Blackwater

        Can you point me to Scahill on that subject? A search for ‘Pincus’ at Scahill’s website turns up 0 finds. Thanks in advance.

        • Nell says:

          To answer my own question: Here and here.

          Andrew Pincus is a lawyer representing Blackwater in its appearance before Judge Ellis in the Eastern District of Virginia.

  8. MadDog says:

    Tangentially related – Black is the water, dark and deep:

    Blackwater tapped foreigners on secret CIA program

    …Blackwater long has had a close and intertwined relationship with the CIA. Several senior agency leaders have taken up positions with the company. Among them were J. Cofer Black, once the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who would have had operational involvement with the secret plan in the early 2000s. Others included Robert Richer, a former deputy director for operations, and Alvin B. Krongard, a former CIA executive director.

    Another Blackwater hire was Enrique “Ric” Prado, a former operations chief at the Counterterrorism Center. Prado ran the death squad program when it was started up under Tenet, three former intelligence officials said.

    According to one former official, Jose A. Rodriquez Jr., who ran the CIA’s clandestine service and was instrumental in reviving the program, reached out to Prado, then working at Blackwater. The two men had previously worked together in Latin America and then at the Counterterrorism Center, the former officials said.

    After joining Blackwater, according to The New York Times, Prado was involved in the 2004 negotiations between Blackwater officials and the CIA over its involvement in the death squad operation. According to the Times report, Prado, who at one point was Blackwater’s vice president of special programs, worked with Erik Prince, Blackwater’s founder, to sign agreements with the CIA to participate in the program…

    • emptywheel says:

      Read that and noted to myself and a few people back stage that Israelis are, by far, the best trackers of Islamic terrorists. I do hope Blackwater isn’t serving as a front for putting Israelis on the front lines in US pay.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Somebody is serving as a front. I can’t believe that Israel didn’t offer us extensive help after 9/11, on the longshot they weren’t giving us extensive help before. And BushCo (or Clinton, for that matter) would not have turned down their help.

        So I’m sure they’re involved. Via Blackwater or some other CIA front.

        Boxturtle (At the CIA, a Cleaning Contractor is not necessarily a janitor)

        • timbo says:

          Let’s not forget the other scandal whereby an Israeli company was put in charge of the cell-phone network for the Congress of the United States. It’s always boggled my mind that there has been know legal or other follow up on that one…sounded like treason to me at the time. But, if you consider it was done by the folks connected to Blackwater…well, then you get an interesting picture of who was monitoring and blackmailing whom. Further, the communications issue of “traffic that passes outside of the United States” also gets interesting if telecom communications happen to pass outside of the United States on their way back into the United States. I believe Perlman was involved in one such scandal…but the issue of the Congress giving a contract to an Israeli front company has never been fully addressed in my opinion.

    • timbo says:

      Interesting that “the program was revived” after Tenet was fired…and by none other than the ‘ethical giant’, Porter Goss! No wonder they went after Lam to get her out of there. Looks like Busholini and friends had run into a serious legal problem. Am also curious as to Cheney and Rumsfeld more direct connections to Blackwater…a company that didn’t really exist on the map until Bush Co put them on the map.

  9. FrankNaif says:

    Pincus and Warrick also failed to mention Krongard’s role as a principal in Blackwater/Xe, CIA’s go-to ops contractor.

    The other red herring in this story is the premise that sagging CIA morale is a recent phenomena. There are ’sagging CIA morale’ stories going back for the past six or seven years.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Yeah, morale and morals both seemed to sag about two months after BushCo came into office.

      Something else for Obama to clean up. Or ignore because it would interfere with The Agenda.

      Boxturtle (Getting as sick of “The Agenda” as I was of “The War On Terror”)

    • PJEvans says:

      I seem to remember stories like that from the 80s and 90s, too.
      (Maybe they only have them when Ds are in the White House.)

      If they have that many morale problems, they need a major overhaul.

  10. 4jkb4ia says:

    Compelled to state that this op-ed is entirely hopeless. It is also in Frank Rich’s spot, but I don’t know if Rich has ever written about torture. Its one saving grace is stating clearly that a “bad apples” investigation is not much of an investigation at all.

    In course of getting this link, LDP out! (In Japan)

      • Mary says:

        When you decide, maybe you can touch on that he’s become the lead voice other than people with direct affiliations with the torture. His tag under the piece (and under the Daily Beast piece) is that he’s a novelist. Really? A Novelist? Oh, but wait – he’s a novelist who “writes about” security stuff now and then.

        So the pro-torture crew’s big voice other than Hayden & Cheney is – Finder? I think that’s odd.

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Finder, besides being a novelist, is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and former Harvard faculty.

          From a recent interview with Finder:

          I was never on the CIA’s payroll. I was recruited by the CIA, but when I got to Langley, they showed me the cubicle where I’d be sitting and translating Soviet economic journals from Russian into English, and I said, “No thanks.” That wasn’t exactly Jason Bourne stuff….

          I started reading Russian, and then when I got to college, I got really interested in Soviet politics and intelligence, and I did a lot of primary-source documentary analysis on Soviet history, and my plan was to work for the CIA. But what’s cool is, I kind of know the culture, and I know a lot of people in the agency now, and they talk to me because I’m writing fiction. I know if I were writing something for the New York Times, they’d just clam up. I was on the phone two days ago for an hour with a very recent head of the CIA getting all kinds of great stuff. Because he knows he can trust me: I never burn my sources.

          Hmm… maybe former CIA, who knows? In any case, someone certainly very close to CIA, an propagandaist for them. Of course, none of this is mentioned by the New York Times. Finder has found a home at The Daily Beast, as you know. They only refer to him as “the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels.”

          Operations Mockingbird (see my link in earlier comment) is alive and well.

          • Mary says:

            That tells a lot, doesn’t it?

            He has a bias in favor of political assassinations (that was the agency work of Bourne after all, although all the action in the novels centers around him staying alive after he decided that he wasn’t good to go with all that political killing anymore), doesn’t think much of actual intelligence gathering and analysis (this is where you see the real dynamic with ex-CIA, with people like Drumheller and Baer not shy about saying that intel gathering, recruiting sources, etc. should be the focus more so than running mini-Treblinkas) and is so tickled at the importance lent to his self by having someone like “a very recent head of the CIA” actually telling him *secret stuff* that he’s about to pop and would never even dream of applying critical analysis to what they are telling him.

            And that’s what he just offers up, without going behind the curtain. So NYT puts up an op ed from someone who pretty much admittedly pees his pants in excitement over getting to talk to an ex-CIA director. Ugh.

        • bmaz says:

          Okay guys, I will be along in a while with the Finder post. I had a long night on another issue a couple of threads back and an early morning for the Belgian Grand Prix. I am temporally a little loopy right now, and Marcy has a couple of posts freshly up; so give me a while and we can all filet Mr. Finder and his op-ed in the NYT.

          • Mary says:

            I’ll be waiting for it – weekends are bad for me bc I’m only near my laptop for certain periods of time, so a note that no comment means I’m probably out and not seeing it.

    • tjbs says:

      NYT B/S detector is weather they allow comments. They didn’t want feed back from old grouches before 7 AM commenting on Murder/ Torture/ Treason today, when dick’s making his sales pitch. Murder is murder you m/f dick.

  11. Rayne says:

    allan (14) – yeah, you know us DFH bloggers, we don’t check facts…and the mainstream media doesn’t disclose conflicts of interests, theirs or anybody elses’.

    FrankNaif (17) – every time you hear somebody saying that CIA morale is flagging, you have to wonder:

    – are they talking about the CIA white hats (old school intel)?
    – are they talking about the CIA black hats (neo-conservative left-behinds)?
    – are they talking about contractors, and if so, which ones?
    – are they talking about their own morale?

    In Buzzy Krongard’s case, I think it’s all about him and his personal retinue. Poor, poor, beleaguered Buzzy. /snark

  12. dugsdale says:

    Ahh, EW. Why are you not on my teevee this morning schooling Liz Cheney? Why the endless parade of ill informed, axe-grinding blabbers instead?

    I think FDL needs to start a speakers bureau/publicity outlet that does all the crap regular conservative crackpot flack shops do: issue position papers, promo speakers’ availability for yak fests like the Stephie show, really work the connections Ms. Jane is making in her Washington posting to try to get the knowledgeable, articulate FDL’ers (and there are many) on some kind of show or other.

    I know, it takes money and commitment. But it’s a part of “getting the message out there” that progressives are going to need, now that it’s clear we have yet another conservadem in the white house.

    I’d pitch in some bread for that. (Certainly much rather that, than contribute to the DSCC.)

    • wavpeac says:

      That there are at least some of us out there who have a bully pulpit who can state these truths gives me hope. I wish I had more than “hope” but that’s it for now.

      I have to keep reminding myself that as cliche as it is…determination to stick to truth and values, to apply natural consequences, to tolerate the “mess” of being an effective, and moral country is “the road less traveled”.

      But…the truth, like water tends to find it’s way.

  13. Scarecrow says:

    1. An agency whose senior people and mid-level operatives engaged in torture and whose complicity is now a topic for possible investigation should have lousy morale. They don’t deserve a pass.

    2. People in the field who are watching the legal ground shift beneath them because it’s dawned on a few that their work may be illegal and immoral should be pausing — that’s the point. We want these people to pause, and stop committing crimes.

    I’d like a complete accounting of the damage the CIA has done to America’s interests. Frankly, I doubt they could justify their existence given their recent track record.

    • foothillsmike says:

      I doubt they could justify their existence given their recent track record.

      I doubt they could justify their existence given their entire track record.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I think you do the CIA an injustice by blaming them to that extent. They were used as a tool by BushCo and BushCo is not the first administration to do so.

      We need the job that the CIA is supposed to do. Part of the solution is to remove the political appointees from the CIA and make those career positions. Congress and the president set the operational guidelines and the director is responsable for operating within those guidelines or challenging them in court.

      Boxturtle (That’ll never happen, the CIA is such a COOL toy)

      • oregondave says:

        “I was just used as a tool.” How is that different from “I was just following orders”?

        • BoxTurtle says:

          They’re the same darn thing in my book. My point was that we need to remove the political part of the equation. If the CIA director was a career position, civil service, BushCo would not have been able to use them as a tool.

          I have some sympathy for the CIA grunts. When you’re presented with a memo signed by the president by your Director and it’s countersigned by the USAG, it’s real tough to step up and say “That’s illegal”.

          But that’s what the grunts should have done. And maybe DID do, my take is that most of the rough stuff was done by contractors.

          I want Dr. Frankenstein to stand trial, not a whole bunch of Igor’s. But as with any criminal enterprise, you start at the bottom and work your way up.

          Boxturtle (And there are some democrat Frankensteins out there. Them, too)

          • oregondave says:

            But that’s what the grunts should have done. And maybe DID do, my take is that most of the rough stuff was done by contractors.

            My belief is, too, that many in the CIA were able to draw the line and not step over. I get it that they must be demoralized at what others did. Hopefully, they are also mad as hell, and inclined to not take it anymore.

          • pastfedup says:

            One of the dem Frankensteins imo – senator with last name Feinstein – close spelling, too. Got a quick glimpse of her on ‘Fool the Nation’ this AM, she was saying that CIA got some good intelligence after enhanced interrogations, and that Holder’s appointment of a spaecial prosecutor was premature.

            She and several other senatorial Dems are a big part of the problem, and need to be primaried at the first opportunity.

    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      Citizen Sacrecrow:

      At ease, Brother ‘crow, the CIA and the “little people” who make it work were used and abused and the institution completely corrupted by a master corporate bureaucrat who knew how to extort and intimidate workers and dominate political hacks and aparachiks…the only good thing to come of this sorry assed episode is that we may get to dismantlin’ the secret police structure that has grown up over the last 63 years to protect the corporate fascist oligarchy.

  14. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    Why are you spendin’ time debunkin’ lies and distortions from a dyin’ institution that is part of the bubble machine that is about to become a museum piece before our very eyes? Come on Sister Marcy, you have much better things to do with your considerable talents than waste ‘em deconstructing stale air.

    The system of “justice” and “equal protection” to which you have dedicated your life needs you to keep the heat on and the truth in front of the people so that the courts and Congress will be forced to do their duty as prescirbed by the Constitution.


  15. TheraP says:

    I can’t count the number of times that Obama Administration officials have stated that no one who followed John Yoo’s transparently bad legal advice will be prosecuted

    Snark alert: So does this mean that if I hire a really bad lawyer or at the very least one with really bad reasoning, who’s willing to go out on a limb and give me really bad advice… and then I do really bad things – that Obama will see to it that I get a pass? Or Holder?

    Because if you take this to its logical limits… then why have any laws at all? If bad legal advice can somehow get around them. And save you.

    Please, it’s irony. But gosh darn it, I am so sick of the pretense that we are a society of laws! Where does it end, folks? Ok, that’s rhetorical too! (now I’ll go away and leave myself and this thread in peace…)

    • timbo says:

      Yeah, that drum has to be beat until the thought that a bad lawyer giving bad advice gets anyone a legal pass. The fact that none of these lawyers has been disbarred yet, retain tenure at prestigious law institutions, etc, shows the low regard the law in America is held in by the elite who abuse the laws.

  16. Tinroof says:

    Lat graf from the Times article on the ACLU & FOIA this morning (

    “On Monday, the government faces yet another court-imposed deadline to turn over more documents — including the 2001 presidential directive authorizing the secret prisons — or explain why they must be withheld.”

    I foresee a very busy Monday in Marcy’s immediate future. Maybe this is why the Big Dick seems so sweaty lately?

    • oregondave says:

      I just finished reading that Times article.

      Apropos of comments going on here about the effect on CIA is this from Gen. Michael V. Hayden:

      “We got publicly rolled,” General Hayden said. “So our foreign partners may say there is no value to our promise in the future that ‘Don’t worry, we can keep this secret.’ ”

      No, Gen. Hayden, you didn’t get ‘rolled.’ You got held to account by the rule of law.

      • Mary says:

        Mikey Will Do Anything is right, though. I mean, look at what happened when the Germans weren’t allowed to keep THEIR Polish camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka secret – the next time someone asked Poland to set up some secret camps …

        never mind

    • BoxTurtle says:

      a transplant heart from Mother Theresa couldn’t help Cheney

      He’d eat it. Raw.

      Boxturtle (Nice change of pace from the kittens he’s always snarfing)

  17. libbyliberal says:

    perris, good call on Cheney as “enemy of the state” … worth repetition

    blackwater… what is happening with that accountability?

    interrogation training was about 2 weeks, wasn’t it? the learning curve for this art, part of the 100 deaths? And mind-numbing physical and psychological traumas. And not to mention what frankensteinian impact it had on the torturers.

    Now I have read 85% of the detainees were innocent or without serious evidence. Not that the 15 percent should have been tortured (the little matter of morality and that it is a felony and a war crime). Has anyone ever brought this up to Cheney, who would of course DENY DENY DENY … with sociopathic stamina which looks so compelling on tv, especially to authoritarian followers.

    low morale or a truer scenario for CIAers, the relief of accountability and the law being applied finally to an insane and depraved administration. Or are we on this earth to teach people to be lemmings and authoritarian followers and let the sociopaths rule?

    Does Obama know the difference between wholesome loyalty and criminal cronyism. Criminal cronyism is when you help a friend move the body, not just move. Makes a funny joke, but is being an accessory in a felony. Hello?

    still wearing a black arm band over a country that has perpetrated, defended, and/or minimized such depravity.

    Thanks, ew, for your continuing updates.

  18. LabDancer says:

    Apologies to all if this point related to this part of Ms ew’s summary of the state of affairs here:

    “…last Monday’s release of documents with all non-detainee names protected and the announcement of a review of the abuses portrayed in the documents”

    [emphasis added]

    already has been made — but over the history of the Union, remarkably even after the lapse of the statutory basis for demanding the AG of the day to appoint an Independent Special Prosecution for this or that, it was pretty much standard check list stuff either way, whether for interests lobbying FOR appointment [or extending the authority of an existing appointee] to investigate & prosecute a given superficially or supposedly suspicious fact situation, OR for legal teams defending against launching a formal investigation or against an indictment, to file challenge in the federal district court, seeking for the third branch to “review” whatever was the decision of the A.G. on receiving the given complaint, nominally at least to force [mandamus] the A.G. to Do The Right Thing [meaning the right legal thing, as opposed to the assumed-always-bad-&-wrong political thing], though invariably with the stealth effect of attacking the A.G. for cow’ing to the bidding of the White House in serving its political convenience.

    What would happen is that some interest, or coalition of interests, such as a national political party or lobbying group, would somehow mysteriously find itself in possession of information of a “serious” complaint reeking of political influence made to a government agency, or addressed to an already-appointed S.P., having been passed up to the A.G. with a request for decision; whereupon said interest would find some high-profile route to publicizing the A.G. sitting on it, or declining to act on nefarious appearance, such as through the mouth of a minority member of a Congressional subcommittee in, or at least on the steps of, the House, raising “disturbing” implications from this article “in the Washington Post” or whathaveyou [Evans & Novak’s column; Anderson’s column; etc]; and often enough that sort of complaint would find itself embodied in a formal way, filed in the form of an invitation to the court to “review” the decision — i.e. compel everything known to & received by the A.G. & the A.G.’s decision re same to be delivered to the Court, for a judge to consider doing the plain & obvious just thing the A.G. allegedly was ducking on pure politics.

    It may seem obvious now, two-and-a-quarter centuries into the experiment, that for the courts to accept these invitations would be to trammel on separation of powers among the branches of government; but until deep into the 20th century, the third branch didn’t enjoy anything like the status [or flex anywhere near the muscle] implied from the visibility of the Warren court on. In any event, there have actually been efforts to carry on this tradition of trying to force this function of the A.G.’s administrative authority under the judicial microscope into THIS century & well AFTER the lapse of the ISP legislation.

    A useful example of this sort of strategy of challenge at its peak can be found here, in a Circuit Court of Appeals discussion/opinion in the context of little Kenny Starr’s Whitewater excursion:…..s-v-tucker

    dealing, in that instance, with a defense invitation the court to review all materials etc relating one of the necessary predicates or underlying bases of indictment by an ISP:

    the implied obligation on the A.G. to carry out a “preliminary investigation”.

    You will note the court’s opinion re-states a long-standing concept related to separation of powers, to the effect that while Congress may have considered arming the courts with the power to appoint special counsel in cases which fairly scream for it, but for some reason the A.G. is demurring [”obviously”, “patently” or “presumably” for nefarious political motives], Congress didn’t; and thus [to the point that might apply here]:

    It’s no more appropriate for the courts to engage in review of why a particular A.G. appoints, or not, than in review of why a particular A.G. indicts, or not — and thus the courts can not/should not/WILL not review in any way a particular A.G.’s “preliminary investigation”.

    So: supposing one happens to be an A.G.; and supposing one is confronted with a lengthy report from an inspector general looking into the facts & possible legal concerns of a federal agency; and supposing one finds on one’s desk a comprehensive FOIA demand from, say, a smart team of smartypants smartass lawyers at A.C.L.U., who just won’t go away, and who get a supervising judge to cooperate in their quest; and supposing finally one finds one has exhausted every reasonable stretched interpretation of the FOIA’s bases for holding back information, otherwise leaving vast parts of said report un-redacted, including the naming of names pinned to the doing of deeds which FACIALLY make out violations of the Geneva Conventions & certain well-known US Code prohibitions, such as torture, assault, murder & counseling & directing that such be done. What can one do … & also get away with it?

    The un-reviewable preliminary investigation.

    Now, I have this perspective at least in part due to advanced age — but not THAT much more advanced than Holder [despite appearances & athletic challenges to POTUSes over a decade younger]. Indeed, were one to google at a case law website all the applicable terms, such as “preliminary investigation … discretion … review” etc, what would come up would be an unusually high number of returns with Holder’s name on them, as counsel of record or as a named party. Not surprising, really, given the tenor of the times, and so no necessary reflection on him; but they do appear to characterize his tenure through the entire Clinton era, and he does seem to retain a high degree of consciousness of all that.

    • Mary says:

      After looking at what bmaz put up in the earlier thread too, I tend to agree. It’s whey I wondered about the regs etc. that might apply (since msm wasn’t going to bother with that part) and the lack of any standards at all isn’t helpful.

      Plus, you have a lot of other countries engaged in investigations now where some very emabarassing info might come out, even if convictions are not likely to result in extradition. However, it does make it more and more difficult for the US to keep going to the well on getting extradition for non-violent crimes like internet gambling and hacking, when it will not grant extradition to its NATO partners like Italy, Germany, Spain etc. for violent torture crimes involving US governement officials.

      One end run around the embarassment of the overseas investigations and the revelations that real prosecutors (instead of DOJ back pocket prosecutors) entail is the pretense of an “openly acknowledged” investigation here. One of the hurdles in other countries to getting investigations started was whether or not the torturers’ country was a party to certain conventions (like CAT) and already investigating. If so, there’s deference to letting the torturers’ country handle the investigation. So a head fake investigation derails that much more.

      I do think it is worthwhile in all these contexts to go back and look at what Fitzgerald said to Conyers about even his facially broad in-house appointment. He admits that the language used was only to create the perception of independence, not the reality, the perception. He didn’t pull that word out of a hat.

  19. Mary says:

    Argh – I keep getting a “database” error over and over, so let me split this up.

    As mentioned above, they go to Buzzy – without even mentioning that he’s a member of the Blackwater advisory board (hey, where’s the argument that freelance mercenaries and torturers might not free lance their civilian killing and torture to the highest bidder if they are prosecuted for war crimes?) and that the Blackwater sprawl of companies have pecuniary interests in the torture programs.

    I bet the telecoms are saying, “hey, why didn’t we think of that! Telecom employee morale at -50% over being told they cannot eavesdrop on Warren Buffet’s and Angelina Jolie’s calls without a warrant – bum mer”

    And I’m waiting for police across the nation to say that the Burge investigation has demoralized their police – after all, if they can’t torture people whenever they think it’s a good idea to protect the nation, all is lost.

    I swear this, “CIA won’t torture children and car salesmen in the future if they get into trouble for it now, so there!” argument makes me nuts, but Obama has also brought that one on himself with his Pakistani campaign.

  20. Mary says:

    OK – I don’t know what it is in the rest of my comment about p-stan dr*nes and civilians that won’t go through, but something won’t.

    So let me try – the end that doesn’t mention Pakistan –
    Still, the fact that the MSM doesn’t either laugh or shake heads in bemusement or disgust over the argument “Hey, if you don’t let us be the KBG, SS, etc. without consequence, then, like, ya know, someday we’ll be asked to participate in ethnic cleansing and genocide and stuff and maybe we WON’T if we get in trouble now, so there girlfriend, take that!”

    It’s a sad thing when Fox news’ Shep Smith had the most visceral reaction on that kind of argument.

  21. GregB says:

    So here we are.

    We have learned from the media that universal healthcare is the slippery slope towards a Hitleresque dictatorship and that torture without end is the fundamental way to keep a democracy.

    Rabbit meet hole.


  22. JasonLeopold says:

    I left this question in another thread but does the Helgerson quote in this article concern anyone?

    Helgerson also said it would be “very difficult” to mount a successful prosecution of any of the individuals who participated in the program. The Bush-era Justice Department “approved the program orally and in writing; the agency’s chain of command was involved. There would be no jury appeal, and I do not believe there was any criminal intent among those involved,” Helgerson said.

    Doesn’t that conflict with the fact that Helgerson had already recommended cases for prosecution back in 2004?

    I’m surprised he would make such a comment now especially since Durham was named to investigate. The statement alone seems to be an attempt to influence the probe.

    • Mary says:

      I think Helgerson wanted his points made on chain of command and lawyers – IMO the “referrals” were meant to be kabuki in the same way the OLC opinions were meant to be kabuki.

      I would guess the referrals were only of field officers and not chain of command referrals and not out of dept referrals (for DOJ’s OLC or the NSC Principals etc.) and one way you further insulate those guys is to get referrals handed back, esp with some kind of actual finding of good faith.

      IOW, I think Helgerson’s gameplan was never to “go after” the actual torturers so much as generate something that would make the guys at the top look worse and the guys in DOJ see what they were directly responsible for generating and in essence to give everyone in the field some additional protection both in insulating them via the referrals and getting the upchains to back off on their torture experimentation pressure by how ugly the report looked and how it pointed out things like deaths with no sols. It was probably, given the timing, also meant to make sure that the cya and dropped referrals and findings of good faith took place while all the process was still in the hands of people like Chertoff & Fisher (who took the torture field trip but managed to keep it really quiet for a long time) before a possible change in administration. Maybe it was also intended to give Congress a kick in the butt to exercise some oversight to prevent putting the field agents in such a setting and to call back some of the power they were abdicating to mercenaries.

      So I’m not surprised. Helgerson has already had a lot to deal with from generating the report at all – to stand up and say torturers and conspirators should be punished puts him in a bullseye and lord knows, Obama’s pattern so far has been to let the people in the bullseyes be shot with impunity. He’s not found a whistleblower whose actions helped get him elected that he wouldn’t turn his back on (from Mora to Taguba to Coleman to Tamm etc.) while he embraced the people who want to flay the whistleblowers instead. He’s sent the message – you helped get me elected, but the guys who will make me a one term president are the ones I want to like me.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        Mary, thanks so much for this! Incredibly insight! i wonder if there is anything in the material that has been redacted that would underscore your excellent points

        For those interested, there are some interesting other comments by Helgerson in this story (on Fox News online) from a few days ago.

        • LabDancer says:

          I really don’t think that the subsequent comments of either Mary or bmaz are inconsistent with the historical mind-set I suggest Holder would have in choosing terms like ‘preliminary investigation’ & ‘review’. DOJ gets all manner of invitations to consider intervening, some called referrals, others recommendations or requests or queries. Moreover, adopting the concept at Holder’s level works so well & conveniently in suiting not just his agenda but that of Obama, to say the least: for example, it’s at least a bit satisfying & -who knows- may turn out helpful that Cheney’s firing off so much ordnance at what’s essentially an opaque impregnable box.

          That said, it’s not my choice, nor would it be my preference. I’m more in favor of the dogged Waxmanian approach to public servants doing their duty.

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, not really I don’t think. My understanding is that he did not refer them with a recommendation of prosecution, just for review in that regard. And no, not having ever been a federal prosecutor, I cannot expound on the intricacies there, but I think the distinctions exist. It really wasn’t necessary nor overly proper for Helgerson to comment on the state of the evidence at this point though in my limited opinion. We could have done without that. All that said, as you have probably seen me say before, if they do not put superiors in the dock next to the grunts they are looking at, they will play hell trying to convict on any of these cases. Going after only field people with the state of the whole potential record now, is one tough road to hoe; I would be inclined to say the odds are against conviction if that is truly the way it is to be played (all total conjecture, but the best I got).

      • JasonLeopold says:

        Thanks bmaz! You’re right about the recommendation for review and not prosecution. By the way, if you need it or want it and don’t have it here is the link to the panel with Hayden and Chertoff Joseph Finder hosted.

  23. libbyliberal says:

    One of our enemies for justice in this case is the longevity of corruption of the CIA, and its shenanigans throughout all administrations. We are as sick as our secrets as they say. To get to this level of depravity and socipathology it has been a long slippery slope. Bushco was so righteous they weren’t even cognizant of its “wrongness”.

    Pelosi was only explained what EIT they might use? That is how she is covering her ass? Oy vey.

    Cronyism of complicity makes strange bedfellows in this case. But they will protect themselves from accountability and protect their own dirty denial in many sad cases, too, especially the sell out Dems.

  24. Jeff Kaye says:

    Marcy, from your 8/4 article:

    Yet the military withstood oversight and exposure of its role in torture.

    I’d say, at the risk of giving some credence to the crybabies in the WashPo article, that is not something to feel good about. In fact, except for a few derailed careers, not much has come about because of the SASC investigation. Certainly not prosecutions, nor from an internal, organizational standpoint. In fact, as I uniquely pointed out, even JPRA/SERE is still allowed to operate outside their “defensive” Recovery charter on missions of “offensive” support, and apparently are already doing so under Obama/Gates.

    From the SASC report (quoted in link above):

    PRA personnel will not conduct any activities without specific approval from the USJFCOM Commander, Deputy Commander, or the Chief of Staff. Deviations from the JPRA chartered mission of this nature are policy decisions that will be forwarded to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for action. JPRA will continue to direct all requests for external support through USJFCOM and refrain from providing any support or information unless specifically directed by USJFCOM as outlined above.

    …The entire episode narrated in the SASC report becomes then a tale of a military command (USJFCOM) asserting command dominance over a subordinate agency, not a story of how SERE torture was stopped.

    The CIA is likely to suffer the same fate as JPRA, JSOC, the Joint Chiefs, etc., which is to endure nothing more than a reprimand and a reminder to keep the abuses somewhat under wraps. In this instance, I condemn Obama’s decisions to withhold the photos, since that put an end to further heat on the military’s large-scale adoption of abuse and torture. In particular, it gives a freer hand to Special Operations, sending them the message that with McChrystal promoted, nothing bad is going to come down on anything they do.

    We need further investigations of the military and the CIA, and prosecutions of both, along with administration high officials and attorneys who either ordered or facilitated or covered up the use of torture. Anything less is a whitewash, and even worse, a set-up for the next go-round (if not a cover for ongoing operations that amount to war crimes).

    If there’s anything that shows how craven the U.S. press as a whole is, it is the muted response to large-scale voter fraud in the Afghan election, an election where the U.S. backed Karzai had major support from war criminals and warlord mass murderers. Fighting for democracy? Why are we in Afghanistan? (Sorry for drifting so OT, but the latter irritates me every day.) As for how SO personnel might be “prosecuted” by the US for war crimes, consider this odd tale from 2007.

  25. mikey683 says:

    If they do start investigating lower lever CIA types involved in torture at some point someone’s going to ask “Well who told you to do that”? Then hopefully something interesting will hit the fan.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      EW has surely made this point before, and is something to hope for. But I’m not sure now it will even get to that point. The lower-types (like Granger) did this at the Abu Ghraib trial, but it didn’t lead to anything.

  26. WTFOver says:

    Shining light on CIA torturers cum whiners

    This report by Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick is already generating criticism as yet another installment in the Washington Post’s repulsive effort to build public support for Dick Cheney’s defense of abusive interrogations. I think something more subtle is going on in today’s piece. Pincus and Warrick are airing Cheney’s argument that the investigation of CIA abuses damage morale at the Agency, only to cut it down by showing repeatedly that any complaints at the CIA are limited to those few officials who took part in the abuse and now stand to be held accountable for it.

  27. Nell says:

    OT but not by much:

    I’ve just spent much of the day reading and reflecting on The Facts Speak for Themselves, the preliminary report of Honduras’ Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights, issued in 1994. It examines the epidemic of “disappearances” that began with CIA-FBI training of 25 Honduran military intelligence officers in August 1980, and continued with CIA assistance over the next decade, mostly but far from entirely in the next five years (during which U.S. military and “economic” aid to Honduras soared).

    Hundreds of men and women were spied on, followed, kidnaped, and tortured in the 1980s in Honduras. Most of those captured were murdered and buried in secret. The book is the result of the very first effort by the Honduran government, after years of fake “investigations”, impunity, and popular agitation, to undertake an honest investigation into these crimes.

    Anyone who believes the line CIA spinners have put out (through Jane Mayer and many lesser reporters) that the Bush II-era excursion into torture was the result of a “lack of expertise in interrogation” at the CIA needs to read this report. What happenened to those torture- and death-squad-promoting members of the Directorate of Operations between 1993, when the Reagan-BushI era came to an end, and 2001? Did they all develop amnesia or retire?

  28. WTFOver says:

    WaPo Cites Blackwater’s Krongard on Low CIA Morale…..001606.htm

    One day after Newt Gingrich, no friend of the CIA, called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over his plan to investigate the agency, former Vice President Dick Cheney pronounced he was “offended as hell” by the probe. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported “Ex-Intelligence Officials Cite Low Spirits at CIA.” To make its case, the Post turned to one A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. That would be the same Buzzy Krongard who until recently sat on the advisory board of Blackwater.

    But reading the Washington Post analysis of the CIA’s supposed morale problem, readers would never know the former number three man at the agency had close ties to Xe, the mercenary firm previously known as Blackwater and secretly contracted by the Bush Administration for a now-cancelled program to carry out targeted assassinations of terrorists worldwide.

    For its part, the Washington Post on Sunday included statements from John Helgerson, author of the recently released 2004 CIA Inspector General Report on detainee interrogation abuses. Helgerson, the Post noted, “said that the release, though painful, would ensure that the agency confronts difficult issues head on, instead of ignoring or trying to bury them.”

    Which is exactly what the Post itself did about Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard’s checkered past.

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