Condi’s Response to Tenet’s Request for a Review of Torture

Earlier this year, WilliamOckham found a document that appears to be George Tenet’s request of Condi–on June 4, 2004–for reiteration of approval of torture and/or a White House document endorsing the torture policy (click through to the post to see WO’s outline of the false information Tenet included in that document).

The ACLU has received Condi’s response, sent a week later. (h/t MadDog) The summary of the response describes the document as “Memorandum from Condoleezza Rice … regarding review of CIA’s Interrogation Program.” Condi appears to be putting Tenet off on DOJ.

I have reviewed your memorandum to me of June 4, 2004. As we have already discussed, the next logical step is for the Attorney General to complete the relevant legal analysis now in preparation. Once this work is completed and you have returned from your current travel, we can convene a Principals Committee meeting on this subject. In the interim, I will contact Attorney General Ashcroft to underscore the priority we attach to completing expeditiously the Department of Justice’s legal analysis. I also encourage you to carry through on your expressed intention of talking to the Attorney General directly on this subject before any Principals Committee meeting.

Now, the document is interesting when read against the background of reports that–at precisely this time–Tenet requested a document from the White House endorsing torture as a policy. That is, Condi’s response to Tenet’s request for a document from President Bush might have been to pawn Tenet off on DOJ.

With that in mind look at how these two documents–and Condi’s instruction that DOJ would have to review the torture program next–fit into the timeline of debate between DOJ and CIA.

June 3, 2004: Tenet announces his resignation; John McLaughlin resigns as well. SOUTHCOM Commander James Hill traces source of abusive techniques used on al-Qahtani to SERE training.

June 2004: (After announcing his resignation) Tenet requests more explicit approval water-boarding.

June 4, 2004: Tenet requests review from Condi.

June 7, 2004: WSJ refers to March 2003 OLC opinion.

June 8, 2004: WaPo reports on details of Bybee Memo.

June 10, 2004: Goldsmith tells Muller that the Legal Principles are not an opinion of OLC, demands any more request for opinions to be in writing.

June 11, 2004: Condi responds to Tenet’s request for review (Tenet receives this on June 14).

June 15, 2004: Goldsmith informs Ashcroft he will withdraw Bybee Memo and resigns. This effectively leaves the CIA with no legal protection for the water-boarding it had already done.

June 17, 2004: Jack Goldsmith announces his resignation.

June 18, 2004: Goldsmith writes Tenet telling him the IG Report mis-represents Ashcroft’s statements.

June 22, 2004: In an off-the-record briefing, Comey, Goldsmith, and Philbin renounce Bybee Memo. Rizzo sends Philbin copy of earlier approval from Yoo. Muller responds to Goldsmith saying he had forwarded the complaints to John Helgerson, but would release the IG Report that week.

No wonder things were getting so testy between CIA and DOJ. (It may also explain why Goldsmith only withdrew the Bybee One memo, and not the Bybee Two memo.)

72 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Can I say that while I’m surprised Condi ever put anything in writing (she’s second only to those non-writers, non-emailers, PapaDick & Co.), it does not surprise me at all that she ducked all responsibility and tried to pawn it all off on the DOJ.

    Will Condi’s book be called “Profiles in Cowardice”?

    And can I get a Finder’s Fee? *g*

    • Leen says:

      the rethugs seem to be experts at ducking all “responsibility”. The same Condi who ignored all of Richard Clarke’s warnings. “Profiles in Cowardice” fits

  2. MadDog says:

    And btw, did you notice that the Vaughn Index (page 32 of 35 page PDF) description of this document contains the following explanation of its release:

    …This document reflects a discretionary release in part by the National Security Council…

    That gave me a chuckle.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      by the way, in that vaughn index did you notice the letter to Robert Portman at the OMB from Stephen Hadley dated May 2007? Have not seen the name Robert Portman before in relation to torture

      • MadDog says:

        Yeah, I was just re-reading that Hadley document too. A couple questions came to mind:

        1. WTF has the OMB got to do with torture policy? Why is OMB involved at all? I do understand that the OMB is the funnel through which all Federal Register stuff is instituted, but I don’t otherwise understand why they have a dog in this hunt.

        2. Why the necessity of Executive Order 13440 (5 page PDF) in mid-May 2007? I’m sure our Ms. Timeline-iness will inform my ignorance/memory lapse. *g*

        3. Lastly, regardless of the Bush/Cheney regime’s reason for the necessity of this EO, it sure is rather late in the game to rationalize the torture they had already done in years past (2002-2003).

        • bmaz says:

          2. Why the necessity of Executive Order 13440 (5 page PDF) in mid-May 2007? I’m sure our Ms. Timeline-iness will inform my ignorance/memory lapse. *g*

          A whole number of things factored into that I would guess, but trying to button the issue down in light of the MCA and various adverse court rulings probably played a part.

        • JasonLeopold says:

          In this June 10, 2004 Jack Goldsmith letter to Scott Muller up on the timely Marcy included above there is a passing reference to OMB. But it seems like that has to do with writing legal opinions in general.

      • Leen says:

        Just went through that Vaughn index that Mad Dog linked can not find any reference to Portman. Can you show me where his name is mentioned. I am a county captain for Brunner. I am going to call them and tell them to come looking here at EW’s can you show me just where his name is mentioned.

          • Leen says:

            What a catch. This sure could put a dent in Portman’s campaign. In the loop with the torture thugs manipulating the Geneva convention…supporting torture. Wonder what Portman’s response was?

            From hadley

            “Attached are (should be is right?) the most recent draft of the Executive Order entitled ” Interpretation of the Geneva Convention Common Article 3 as applied to certain detentions and interrogations including a recent revision to section 5) and a draft memorandum from me to Robert Portman.

            I provide the draft memorandum to you to ensure you that I accurately convey your position regarding the executive order and the associated CIA interrogation program, in a form that can supplement Director Portman’s memorandum to the President addressing this matter. I ask that you please, consistent with the sensitive nature of the documents, review the draft memorandum and Executive Order. My office will try arrange seperate telephone calls by me to each of you on Monday (or Tuesday morning if more convenient) to confirm that the draft memorandum accurately reflects your views or to suggest any changes required to ensure its accuracy”

            man oh man…Looks like Portman knew about the torture program from the beginning. Being part of the team to approve waterboarding is not going to look so good running for an Ohio senate seat in 2010

            • JasonLeopold says:

              I called the ACLU and spoke to Alex Abdo and he said he was “A little confused by [Portman’s] name as well being that I haven’t seen it before” regarding torture. “I’m unclear why someone in the office of management and budget would involved in conversation of why the geneva conventions shouldn’t be applied.”

              I think this could certainly be a liability for Portman. Of course, I don’t know what that redacted paragraph Hadely wrote says. But it is curious as to what OMB’s involvement was/is and I think Portman’s camp will be surprised when they get a phone call inquiring about it!

                    • JasonLeopold says:

                      thanks for pointing that out bmaz. I was actually unaware of that. That does explain things a bit. Really appreciate it

                  • Mary says:

                    You know, one other thing that was going on in Feb – May 2007 is that Dusty Foggo was getting indicted and then supercededly *g* indicted. He has supposedly also been interviewed in connection with the torture program and he was basically on of the allocations/money guys and part of his charges were using the CIA for money laundering. Someone may have wanted to delineate how much OMB was allowed, or prohibited, from sharing info with the USA in the investigations, esp what with Congress taking a look at the firings of USAs including Carol Lam and her behind doors testimony.

                    just one possibility in the universe of options

              • Rayne says:

                Keep your eyes peeled for any trade deals — “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of deals. Not OMB business either, but it could be a more likely dot in an as-yet unseen dotted line.

                [edit: and do keep the Portman timeline in mind; Portman replaced Bolten at OMB, and Portman up and departs “to spend time with the family” on June 19, 2007. (Probably just a coincidence that Antigua sued the US for 3+ billion in a trade dispute the same day, huh, in relation to the SAFE Port Act?) Portman had been trade rep until the move to OMB.]

  3. fatster says:

    We knew this a few years ago, but I guess now it’s official.

    Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’
    [and boiled alive]

    “The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador [Craig Murray].”


  4. Mary says:

    I think more so than pawning him off, she wasn’t going to put the NSC onboard as giving the pro-toture policy position he wanted without making sure they had post-Abu Ghraib coverage on the legal front. Especially in an election year (says a lot that Bush was re-elected post-Abu Ghraib). It may be that the policy position was supposed to come out of the principals meeting, but that she wanted the other first.

    This all re-presents the issue of Ashcroft’s involvement. There were reports at one time that Condi told him the OLC opinions were not good enough, he was going to have to ante up as AG and affirm to them the validity of those opinions as AG. I’d think she wouldn’t go for that just verbally. Now it could be she was willing to take something as simple as having him literally “sign off” on the OLC memo too, but I wonder. No one seems to have ever released or anted up the Ashcroft review/approval of the OLC memos that supposedly she asked for and received.

    BTW – what is the sourcing on “June 22, 2004: In an off-the-record briefing, Comey, Goldsmith, and Philbin renounce Bybee Memo.”? Was that Bybee 1 or 2? And a briefing to whom?

    Also, for your June 15, 2004 item, there was still at least Bybee 2, right? And possibly, it seems, some kind of Ashcroft certification to the Principals.

    • MadDog says:

      I think more so than pawning him off, she wasn’t going to put the NSC onboard as giving the pro-toture policy position he wanted without making sure they had post-Abu Ghraib coverage on the legal front…

      Good point, but I still think Condi was also feeling her own innate cowardice come to the fore. And that after being a complicit actor as well as cheerleader at the outset of the torture regime.

  5. cinnamonape says:

    Condi mentions that Tenet was “travelling”…any idea where?

    Also do you mean that James Pavitt (not McLaughlin), the CIA’s deputy director of operations who oversees all covert operations -resigned at the same time.

    Sources said Pavitt’s resignation is “entirely unrelated” to Tenet’s — that Pavitt’s plan to resign has been in the works for three to four weeks.

    Pavitt, who has spent 30 years in the intelligence business, including the last five years as the CIA’s deputy director of operations, testified before the 9/11 commission in mid-April. It marked the first time in the agency’s history that someone of his position testified publicly.

    Bush also announced that Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin will become the agency’s acting chief once Tenet steps down next month.

    McLaughlin, IIRC, resigned (was forced out) after Bush appointed Porter Goss as Director.

    • Leen says:

      I wondered the same thing.

      On that Tenet document they made sure that “key members of congress have been briefed from the beginning” stood out between all of the black out

  6. MadDog says:

    Tangentially OT – Via ABC News’ The Blotter:

    EXCLUSIVE: Convicted CIA Spy Says “We Broke the Law”

    One of the 23 Americans convicted today by an Italian court says the United States “broke the law” in the CIA kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

    “And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this,” said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson…

    …Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee told ABC News that the trial was a disaster for CIA officers like DeSousa on the frontline.

    “I think these people have been put out there. They’ve been hung out to dry. They’re taking the fall potentially for a decision that was made by their superiors in our agencies. It’s the wrong place to go…”

    When Crazy Pete is right…

  7. cinnamonape says:

    Could be that he was involved in some way to providing the off-the-books funding, but was concerned about the legal issues if the US got caught funding programs that violated the Geneva Conventions. Or maybe he was worried about sitting in on the NSC meetings where torture was being bandied about. Perhaps Portman didn’t feel good about being like a Nazi at Wannsee. So Hadley, Condi, Rummy and others had to provide him with their interpretation of the Geneva Protocols. “See, the way we read it what we are doing isn’t torture and the detainees aren’t protected anyways.”

  8. Garrett says:

    The odd form of the Hadley/Dept. Heads/Portman exchange, “please inform me that the following is your position on the policy,” is interesting for FOIA purposes.

    As a joke: it’s not very “deliberative”.

    As a matter of the reality of the decisionmaking process here, the withheld section isn’t very “predecisional”.

    There could be earlier predecisional discussion, but at this point the policy had already been Decidered. Identical statements from all the agency heads is an expression of policy, not deliberation about it. “Confirms and elaborates the positions of the heads of relevant departments” trumps “draft”.

    • Mary says:

      That was my reaction – oooo, lookey, a post-decisional directive. ;)

      @20 & @52/53 I think one of the more interesting parts of that story has to do with the conviciton of the AF guy – Romano.

      Yesterday when they said they uphelp diplomatic immunity for 3 I took a fast look for a story on who got immunity and couldn’t find it. The story y’all are linking at the Blotter has that detail.

      Also convicted was Air Force Colonel Joseph Romano, who allegedly helped facilitate the CIA kidnapping team’s flight to Egypt from a U.S. air base in Italy.

      The Department of Defense had unsuccessfully claimed the court had no jurisdiction over Romano under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement.

      “We are clearly disappointed with the ruling and the lack of respect for the fact that we have asserted jurisdiction in this case,” said Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell.

      Yeah – all that “lack of respect” for the fact that Italy has jurisdiction over its residents while on Italian soil – oh, wait, I mean lack of respect for the assertion by the US over jurisdiction of the crimes and war crimes committed by its members on foreign soil. After all, the US can point to it’s military commission involving the sleeping bag torture killing to show how it works when it asserts jurisdiction.

      One thing that has received way too little focus is how the US descent into depravity and outlawry is going to effect out SOFAs with other countries, many of whom were not wild about those when they thought that we really would prosecute criminals who commit crimes against their citizens and residents. Now that they know that we only “look forward” after Executive branch/military crimes committed and it’s basically public record that we are claiming the right to kidnap and molest their citizens, of all genders and ages, at any time and from time to time, and it’s a political rather than criminal matter in the eyes of Bush Obama and the Republican Democratic Congress, we’ve bought a world of trouble in the future.

      • bobschacht says:

        One thing that has received way too little focus is how the US descent into depravity and outlawry is going to effect out SOFAs with other countries,…

        Excellent point.
        Are SOFAs all dated, with expiration dates? If so, it might be interesting to find out when our current SOFAs expire. I wonder if this might be the kind of thing that finally moves Obama off the dime to start dealing with the mess he has swept under the rug.

        Bob in AZ

  9. alinaustex says:

    What is the staute of limitations for conspiring to committ torture in the United States ?
    And this wild eyed conjecture based on some rumblings here in Austin– but supposedly one of the reasons its taking so long to finish the Durham grand jury is because the prosecutors are ‘crossfooting” who paid for what as it relates to the destroyed torture media. Sometimes it seems that electronic financial forenisics reconstruction/deconstruction can take awhile .
    And Perris if you are hanging out here now -some of the ex gwb43 – employees down here in Austin are talking quietly about a whole separate set of books that financed Team B – not only at the CIA but at the DOD – specifically referencing the pallets of cash that went to the Green Zone.
    Bmaz I know this is wild eyed conjecture so I have donned my protective goggles in anticipation of your studied and spirited response …

    • klynn says:

      Sometimes it seems that electronic financial forenisics reconstruction/deconstruction can take awhile .
      And Perris if you are hanging out here now -some of the ex gwb43 – employees down here in Austin are talking quietly about a whole separate set of books that financed Team B – not only at the CIA but at the DOD – specifically referencing the pallets of cash that went to the Green Zone.

      Hopefully Perris will swing by. This is interesting to learn. I know Perris and I have been addressing the idea that a separate set of books was financing team B and tracked some of the “backdoor” links to Cheney placed people in different departments of government. Sara has had some good info on this as well as Jeff Kaye.

      Remember Portman is known for his keen ability to “job outsource” just about anything.

      And I see Perris has been by!

      • perris says:

        klynn THANX for that!!!

        “team b”…I cannot understand why the progressives don’t HAMMER at this for a number of reasons

        1) it gets the professionals on our side, the will understand they will NOT be compromised if WE understand it was not them and regardless what some of us think of the cia, we’re gonna NEED them on our side if we are to prevail against those criminals on cheney’s team of torture in his house of pain

        2) it INFORMS THE PUBLIC and they will understand those against the program are not against the cia

        3) IT MAKES CHENEY THE BAD GUY not the cia

        the more we make this “cheney’s team” rather then “the cia” the better chance we have to prevail

        there are other reasons but I have to go to work, I wish we were all over “cheney’s team of torture” instead of “the cia torture team”


        • Leen says:

          Since Cheney thought the folks over at the CIA were a bunch of amateur’s “Cheney’s team” seems appropriate.

          Cheney’s interview (page 21)
          (U)The Vice President described himself as a long time admirer of the CIA and its people and programs, but he characterized their performance in the Wilson matter as “amateur hour.” His mindset about the entire issue led him to wonder to himself about what was going on out at Langely”

          • perris says:

            his “long time admiration” had nothing to do with the professionals, he has ALWAYS hated them, it’s the very reason he created “team b” when he worked for ford, he needed to undermine nixon’s treaty of detante and the real cia wouldn’t play along

            rumsfeld and himself created the fake cia to make up crap, cheney was the underling to rumsfeld back then, wolfowitze and a host of other current day Iraq playerws were on board

            this is something that simply does not get enough play

    • bmaz says:

      Conspiracy is five years from the last substantive overt act; note that is not the last act of any kind generally, but that of the more recent of the predicate bookend crimes as would apply to the destruction of the tapes. as to actual acts of torture themselves, eight years. I have never heard of the term “crossfooting” before, sounds like a bunch of Texas sized hooey you are being fed. An inquiry into “who paid for what” in relation to the actual destruction of the tapes strikes me as absurd as to being the factor that has slowed things to a fucking two year standstill. But hey, in Texas wild rumors always trump common sense I guess.

      • Mary says:

        Origins on crossfooting (from a once upon a time, a long time ago, accounting major) This was something done to double check on your figure compiliations. As an example, if you were totalling various expense accounts on a monthly basis to get yearly totals, you would set up columns with the types of expense as headings (office supplies, utilities, equipment rental payments, etc.) along the top, then set up rows of months with the month on the left, so for the first row – January – you would have figures under the headings that apply, and so forth.

        To get your pre-excel totals, first you would “foot” which would mean to go under each column heading and go down the rows and total the column – then to do the same thing with each row, so you would end up with “totals” for all Jan expenses on the right side of your sheet, and all office supply expenses for all the months on the bottom of the sheet, under the column heading. To help double check your figures, you would “cross foot” by adding all the number totals across the bottom (totals by expense type), then you would add all the number totals down the right side (totals by month) and the two figures should be the same – i.e., you cross footed.

        It kind of evolves to mean belts and suspenders checking and/or digging in to make sure all the numbers make sense. I wonder if the slang was meant to really reference numbers per se, or to reference making sure all ducks were definitely in a row. I wouldn’t trust much from it in any event.

        One thing that might be interesting on the $$ flow front, though, would tie to the reports that the same woman who alledgely signed off on the the el-Masri kidnap to torture and didn’t want to let him go – who was also supposedly one who went to watch waterboarding for the vicarious thrill of it without any need to be there and got a censure supposedly for using the interrogations as her personal torture porn – that she was also the one that Jose Rodriguez sent to have the tapes destroyed. How she was getting paid or her trips were being paid for might, I guess, conceiveably be a tangential issue, but I don’t really see it.

        @68 – thank you. That’s a bit more upbeat.

        @64 – I’m not an uber-expert on them, but I think most are negotiated for fairly long terms, however, I know part of what is going on in Iraq is that the SOFA is being used in part as the draw-down of forces document as well as an agreement on how to handle “coalition” forces actions in sovereign Iraq. Originally, the SOFA that Maliki put in place last year was supposed to go before the Iraqis in July of this year. But no one proposed a bill before the July elections, so it was left hanging. Some were not happy and pushed, so that at one point there was talk that whether, and the terms on which, US soldiers were going to stay in Iraq which was supposed to be voted on in July, would now be included in and addressed in the Jan 2010 elections.

        So to get the SOFA originally, the only way they could pull it off was to include the provision that the people of Iraq would get to vote on US continued presence this last July – that’s how the got it approved to start with. But it looks from polling like if the matter went to vote – Iraqis would overwhelming vote US forces out. So Maliki and others have not really wanted to put any of this to a vote. So after the discussion post-July elections on moving the vote to the Jan elections, since last month the word is that Maliki won’t get any bill before the public for vote in Jan either, he’s just going to ignore all that for awhile bc he’s too worried about what will happen once all forces are gone.

        But the US SOFA with Iran given by the Shah was used by Khomenei as propaganda leverage to overthrow the Shah – some well known quote about an American dog being more protected than an Iranian from a US soldier under the SOFA.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh. Nice history of accounting lesson; but I still ain’t buying this bullshit in relation to the torture tape investigation.

  10. perris says:

    not pretty

    I’m talking of people being raped with broken bottles,” he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. “I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I’m talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on

    this article needs to be saved and reposted whenever cheney has the gall to go back on torture tour usa

    marcy, I hope you get a chance to decompose the entire interview

    • perris says:

      I remember when abu-torture first claimed some kind of “authority” to “redifine” torture

      they then came up with some pretty depraved crap, like “there must be organ failure or pain of death, or a person must experience permanent damage, or a person must die”

      I told those defending this depraved definition (A cut and paste from my 2002 conversation with one of these fools;

      there are so many forms of torture that risk neither life nor limb it is impossible to enumerate

      we can force them naked on the floor freezing to the brink of consciousness, but we don’t let them sleep, their toes feel like they will break off if we move them…we can then pour water that’s even room temperature and it will feel as if it’s boiling their skin off their bones, though no mark will be left

      we can drill into the root of your tooth, risk neither life nor limb, you will be in such pain you would rather take your own life, and you will surely know torture

      we can drip water on your head, drop by drop, risk neither life nor limb, and you will surely know torture

      we can pull your fingernails out on at a time, risk neither life nor limb

      we can have savages sodomize your daughter, your son, your wife…in front of you, we will not suffer you any pain at all, yet you will know the full measure of torture

      we can have savages sodomize you with a 2 by four, in front of your daughter, your wife, your son…this will be torture to each of you”

      • perris says:

        here’s an interview, someone on the torture squad;

        One of the 23 Americans convicted today by an Italian court says the United States “broke the law” in the CIA kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

        “And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this,” said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson.

        DeSousa says U.S. “abandoned and betrayed” her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping

        she’s got only a portion right

        the real price was paid by the victims not the criminals, there is no defense she can hide behind “I was given orders”

        the real price was paid by the LOSS of information, it was paid by how the program UNDERMINED success

        the real price is the FACT that we CREATED terrorists and ENEMIES against our cause and our nation

    • Leen says:

      Not one person or persons held accountable for all of the false pre-war intelligence. Not sure what the point was of the time spent investigating Phase I and Phase II of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) the false pre war intelligence and then not holding anyone accountable for it. Just one more solid example that the mucky muck thugs are clearly ABOVE THE LAW

  11. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m way behind the curve on this, but if anyone is still hanging around this thread, I have a question. Is there a list of dates for the 17 documents released last Friday? I’m particularly interested in #6, which, from the text of the document appears to have been written by Goldsmith after he saw the IG report, but before the June 22, 2004 withdrawal of the Bybee memo.

  12. alinaustex says:

    BMAZ@ 58

    crossfooting is a slang accounting term that means to see where the money was supposed to have gone as opposed where it actually went -as in wheter the church tith money went to the church or whether it went to the beer and pretzel purchases -at least down here in Texas thats what it means

    • fatster says:

      Oh, I like that. “Crossfootng.” It’s amazing what all I learn at this one site–each and every day. Thnx.

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