John Durham’s Thirteen Documents

As William Ockham has noted, there are thirteen documents described in the torture tapes FOIA over which John Durham has asserted a law enforcement exemption.

Of the 55 documents [in the Vaughn Declaration], the Agency determined that 13 documents could be released in part. Prior to releasing the 13 documents, however, the Agency was informed by the Department of Justice that Special Prosecutor John Durham was asserting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption (b)(7)(A) over the portions of the 13 documents that the CIA was prepared to release.

Now, it may be that those are the only documents from this time frame that Durham sought to protect (he has said he was more concerned about documents closer to 2005), or it may be that he only reviewed the 13 that the CIA would have otherwise released.

But it seems worthwhile to pull out which of the 55 documents described in the Vaughn Index were singled out by Durham. I’ve put them below, in the likely date order.

Document 1, April 27, 2002, AZ Interrogation

This document is a one-page email from a CIA officer to another CIA officer, with several additional CIA officers and attorneys copied. The email contains information relating to the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah,

Document 15, October 25, 2002, Disposition of videotapes–security risks

This is a two-page cable from field to CIA headquarters discussing the security risks if videotapes are retained.

Document 8, December 3, 2002, Closing of facility and destruction of classified information

This document is a two-page cable from CIA Headquarters to the field discussing the destruction of videotapes and other classified material at a field facility.

Document 16, December 20, 2002, Source material on videotapes

This is a three-page memo, with a cable attached, from headquarters to field regarding the policies on tape usage and destruction.

Document 18, January 13, 2003, Guidance on retention of videotapes

This is a two-page email, with a cable attached from CIA headquarters to field, providing guidance on the procedures for retention of AZ videotapes.

Document 29, UNDATED, Meeting on disposition of AZ tapes

This is a one-page email that on scheduling a meeting to discuss the disposition of the tapes. [Neighbor emails are from February 2003 and concern the response to Jane Harman’s concerns about torture tape destruction.]

Document 6, August 4, 2003, Response to destruction of videotapes

This document is a thirteen page cable that discusses the disposition of the 92 videotapes.

Document 3, November 8, 2005, Request for approval to destroy videotapes

This document is a one-page cable from the field to CIA Headquarters requesting permission to destroy 92 videotapes.

Document 5, November 8, 2005, Request for approval to proceed w/authorization of tape destruction

This document is a one-page cable from the field to CIA Headquarters requesting permission to destroy 92 videotapes.

Document 2, November 9, 2005, Request approval to destroy field videotapes

This document is a fourteen-page email chain with six embedded cables. Three of the cables relate to the decision to destroy the 92 videotapes. The remaining cables discuss an unrelated counter-terrorism operation.

Document 4, November 9, 2005, Videotape destruction confirmation

This document is a one page cable from the field to CIA Headquarters, confirming the destruction of the videotapes.

Document 23, November 25, 2005, Short backgrounder of tape destruction

This is a three-page email chain that provides background information on the tape destruction.

Document 22, October 5, 2007, Videotapes–cable granting approval

This is a one-page email, between CIA officers, approving destruction of tapes. [This must have a cable–presumably the November 9, 2005 one–attached to it to have been included in this Vaughn Index]

And here are my thoughts on the inclusion of these documents among Durham’s 13.

Document 1 is interesting because it is actually the second document, by date, in the series (there is one dated April 17). It would have been written at a time when both FBI officers were still in Thailand, but would also have been written at a time when the interrogators were beginning to use harsher treatment (such as nudity and sleep deprivation).

Document 15, 8, and 16 are just three of quite a few in this series that capture discussions between Field and HQ over whether or not Field could destroy the torture tapes. They start in October not long after a photograph of Abu Zubaydah was taken on October 11. And the actual closure discussions take place against the backdrop of detainees dying in Afghanistan, even while CIA asked to expand the use of torture.  I’m especially intrigued by the reference to destruction of videotapes “and other classified material” in Document 8.

Document 18 was written after OGC finished its review of the torture tapes (completed on January 9), and appears to have been done in anticipation of briefing Congress–there was some related discussion of how they could refer to the tapes, apparently in an attempt to avoid referring to them in such a way as CIA would acknowledge they were official records.

I suspect Document 29 was written in February 2003, because it appears in the middle of the several emails pertaining to CIA’s and the White House’s efforts to respond to Jane Harman. In any case, given that it’s an email about scheduling a meeting–and not, apparently, about the discussion or resolution of that meeting, I suspect it’s important because of the invitees as much as anything else. Of course, all of this is a bunch of wildarsed guessing.

I am perhaps most intrigued by Document 6, dated August 4, 2003. Here’s what the timeline just before that date looks like:

June 26, 2003: In speech, Bush says we will prosecute those who torture. In response, Tenet requests and gets memo approving of water-boarding–giving the program “top cover.”

July 13, 2003: CIA Directorate of Intelligence, Khalid Shaykh Muhammed: Preeminent Source on Al-Qa’ida (July 13, 2004) created.

July 29, 2003: Tenet and Muller meet with Cheney, Condi, Ashcroft, Acting head of OLC?, DAAG, Gonzales, and Bellinger to discuss torture. Principals reaffirmed that program was lawful. CIA claims Ashcroft reaffirmed support for program, but Ashcroft contested their description of his approval.

August 4, 2003: 13-page cable discussing “disposition of the 92 videotapes.”

That is, this was a discussion about destroying the torture tapes not long after CIA had demanded a document from President Bush authorizing torture. Further, it was written just the controversial July 29, 2003 meeting including Cheney. It was at this meeting, remember, where Ashcroft gave some kind of reaffirmation for the program, though CIA and DOJ differed on how extensive that reaffirmation was. In other words, this discussion about the torture tape destruction took place when top Administration officials were reassessing whether they could keep their torture program going (notably, in the wake of the torture of KSM).

Documents 3, 5, 2, and 4 seem to capture the chain of documents asking for–and getting–authorization for the destruction of the torture tapes. Note the two different formulations asking for permission: one requesting authorization to destroy the tapes, the other asking for approach to give authorization to destroy the tapes (so there may be two levels of command here).

Document 23 is the second most intriguing document, IMO. Who got this background, weeks after the torture tape destruction–and also after CIA had told Leonie Brinkema the government had no such videos? Is this document as interesting for its intended recipient as anything else?

As I noted here, Document 22 appears to reflect the CIA researching itself who authorized the torture tape destruction after it had discovered they had missed some.

62 replies
  1. Jeff Kaye says:

    Do you think Document 8 refers to the destruction of other videotapes, beyond the 92 in question, and whatever other classified material existed at the site they were closing? Most likely this is part of the general discussion re the disposition of the AZ tapes, about much back and forth in December and Jan 03 (leading to the reply to the Harman letter and all that). But one can’t be sure.

    OT, but relevant: did you hear that Phillip Carter, Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy, just quit? The story is over at WashPost.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      are you thinking al-Qahtani? There were tapes made in August 02. Think August 13 or around that time. Haven’t read Marcy’s previous posts yet though in the event she mentioned it.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      you know what’s funny. Last Saturday, the Senate passed a bill to create a human rights section at DOJ within one of the offices at the agency. The human rights section would, among other things, prosecute Americans who tortured and committed war crimes. That is actually what the folks in this section would do. In what decade or century they would do that is unclear.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Why one needs a division to prosecute laws already on the books, I don’t know. I see it passed with “unanimous consent”. Must be CYA. It says the Atty Gen must consult with the Secty of State and head of Dept of Homeland Security.

        Meanwhile, I wasn’t thinking of Al Qahtani, as the doc in question (#8) refers to the shutting down of a field facility (possibly the Thailand site?). EW is much more on top of all these issues than I.

        Do you have a take on news of the Carter resignation? Looks like “slaughter of the lambs” over at the WH, for human rights types anyway. Certainly Carter was naive. Look at that last paragraph of the WashPost story:

        Carter, who worked on Vets for Obama during the president’s campaign, attempted to build relationships with the human rights community, which remains critical of the administration’s decision to employ a reformed system of military commissions. Even so, groups such as Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union spurned an invitation to visit the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, arguing that such a tour would be meaningless unless they could meet independently with detainees.

        • JasonLeopold says:

          Hey bmaz. This was quietly passed Saturday on the same day the vote to open debate on the healthcare bill passed.

          • JasonLeopold says:

            Here is the relevant info: To establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to enforce human rights laws, to make technical and conforming amendments to criminal and immigration laws pertaining to human rights violations, and for other purposes.

            This Act may be cited as the `Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009′.


            (a) Repeal- Section 103(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1103(h)) is repealed.

            (b) Section To Enforce Human Rights Laws- Chapter 31 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 509A the following:

            `Sec. 509B. Section to enforce human rights laws

            `(a) Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009, the Attorney General shall establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice with responsibility for the enforcement of laws against suspected participants in serious human rights offenses.

            `(b) The section established under subsection (a) is authorized to–

            `(1) take appropriate legal action against individuals suspected of participating in serious human rights offenses; and

            `(2) coordinate any such legal action with the United States Attorney for the relevant jurisdiction.

            `(c) The Attorney General shall, as appropriate, consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State.

            `(d) In determining the appropriate legal action to take against individuals who are suspected of committing serious human rights offenses under Federal law, the section shall take into consideration the availability of criminal prosecution under the laws of the United States for such offenses or in a foreign jurisdiction that is prepared to undertake a prosecution for the conduct that forms the basis for such offenses.

            `(e) The term `serious human rights offenses’ includes violations of Federal criminal laws relating to genocide, torture, war crimes, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers under sections 1091, 2340, 2340A, 2441, and 2442 of title 18, United States Code.’.

            • greenharper says:

              I hope that this is serious.

              Yet I can’t avoid the nasty little suspicion that it’s intended, in part at least, to head off foreign prosecutions of Americans for war crimes.

              We shall see.

              • JasonLeopold says:

                Sorry for the OT again. I should add that this appears aimed at international human rights abusers. And Leahy, who co-sponsored this legislation, seemed to suggest as much:

                Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009, a bill which I was pleased to cosponsor, builds on the foundation created by the Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act. It seeks to improve our ability to identify and prosecute human rights abusers. It proposes consolidating two sections within the Department of Justice: the Office of Special Investigations, and the Domestic Security Section, which is charged with criminally prosecuting human rights abusers.

                This bill also amends a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes those who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide, as defined in Section 1091(a) of title 18, United States Code, inadmissible, and therefore ineligible for the protection of our asylum laws. This bill does not alter our intent, which the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, that asylum laws are meant to implement our obligations under the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Like our asylum laws, that international treaty bars those who have committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity from qualifying as a refugee

            • bmaz says:

              Yeah, I read the final version on Thomas. Here is a typical description (saw several others just like it at sites that track the Senate or Congress):

              The new section would prosecute torture, genocide, child soldiers and war crimes that are committed by any person who is in the United States. The bill is sponsored by Senate Judiciary human rights and the law chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

              Now, since it says “committed by any person who is in the United States” that sounds innocuous enough that the Repubs would not freak out (remember this was unanimous consent I think); you sure would think they would if it could be applied to troops, spooks, contractors etc. abroad. However, when I read the whole of what was actually passed, here from your Thomas link, I find this language:


              (a) Genocide- Section 1091 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–
              (1) in subsection (a)–
              (A) by striking `, in a circumstance described in subsection (d)’; and
              (B) by striking `or attempts to do so,’;
              (2) in subsection (c), by striking `in a circumstance described in subsection (d)’;
              (3) by striking subsection (d) and (e); and
              (4) by inserting after subsection (c) the following:
              `(d) Attempt and Conspiracy- Any person who attempts or conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be punished in the same manner as a person who completes the offense.
              `(e) Jurisdiction- There is jurisdiction over the offenses described in subsections (a), (c), and (d) if–
              `(1) the offense is committed in whole or in part within the United States; or
              `(2) regardless of where the offense is committed, the alleged offender is–
              `(A) a national of the United States (as that term is defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101));
              `(B) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States (as that term is defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101));
              `(C) a stateless person whose habitual residence is in the United States; or
              `(D) present in the United States.
              `(f) Nonapplicability of Certain Limitations- Notwithstanding section 3282, in the case of an offense under this section, an indictment may be found, or information instituted, at any time without limitation.’.
              (b) Immigration

              Now I have not gone in and checked every comma and interspliced word that the jerks have changed around, and how “Section 3” fits in, so I am certain I must be missing something, but as I read the provisions of these definitions, at least as to genocide, it would so apply to US citizens (which are “US nationals” under 8 USC 1101) including the above described groups perpetrating acts overseas. Again, I must be screwing something up here, and even if restricted to genocide, I don’t see how the howling Repubs went for it…..

              • bobschacht says:

                it would so apply to US citizens (which are “US nationals” under 8 USC 1101) including the above described groups perpetrating acts overseas.

                Yeah, I noticed that, too. Read at face value, it seems quite significant.
                And did you notice the wording,

                (f) Nonapplicability of Certain Limitations- Notwithstanding section 3282, in the case of an offense under this section, an indictment may be found, or information instituted, at any time without limitation.’.

                [emphasis added]

                Gotta wonder what Coburn was doing in with the cosponsors.

                Bob in AZ

                • JasonLeopold says:

                  Coburn’s involvement is indeed curious. Funny thing is that when I called his office yesterday his press aides had no idea what I was talking about. They did not believe he co-sponsored this bill. I kid you not.

              • JasonLeopold says:

                Yes. I called Leahy’s office yesterday to try and get them to give me clarification but they told me to simply refer to Leahy’s statement they posted on his website. Here is the link since I failed to provide it above.

                It’s very strange.

                • bmaz says:

                  Somehow, the language I am seeing must be restricted to this action described in Leahy’s statement:

                  This bill also amends a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes those who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide, as defined in Section 1091(a) of title 18, United States Code, inadmissible, and therefore ineligible for the protection of our asylum laws.

                  so that such suspects/defendants are merely “inadmissible”. Not what it looks like, but I can see mere inadmissibility getting by the howlers where I cannot a fuller reading.

                  • JasonLeopold says:

                    I believe you’re right on that. It’s just very strange to see “war crimes, torture” in the language of the bill and yet it doesn’t apply to those individuals in the previous administration who fit that description

                    • bobschacht says:

                      It’s just very strange to see “war crimes, torture” in the language of the bill and yet it doesn’t apply to those individuals in the previous administration who fit that description.

                      What language do you see that excludes them? I didn’t notice any such language, so it must have escaped my attention.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • JasonLeopold says:

                      Actually, it doesn’t say that at all, Bob. I am assuming way too much. Perhaps just being cynical.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Bob, to the extent that this adds to prior law, or even just amends prior law, it cannot apply retroactively to those in or about the prior administration because that would violate the no ex post facto clause in Article I Section 9 of the Constitution. So that is out of consideration; but I have a hard time believing a law truly doing these things, even applicable prospectively, could get by the Republican war howlers, and certainly not by unanimous consent. That is why I think there is something in the overall application of the effective language that is not readily apparent which makes this whole act a whole lot less than it at first appears on its face.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      You are right, of course, about retroactivity. I was thinking wishfully.

                      But prospectively, it might have snuck past the Republican war howlers because (a) their attention was on the Health Care bill, and (b) they saw Tom Coburn as cosponsor, so maybe they thought that it must be OK, or maybe they just weren’t paying close attention.

                      If it actually has prospective substance, it might help as a deterrent to the beasties at Bagram and elsewhere whom Obama has not yet reined in.

                      However, your cynicism may well be justified.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • bobschacht says:

                      Actually, bmaz, I wonder if your application of the ex post facto idea is relevant, because this bill does not seem to create new offenses, for the most part, but rather creates an office dedicated to investigating and prosecuting *existing* war crimes statutes, etc. –at least in part. So I don’t see that the personnel in this new office would be barred from investigating violations of war crimes, etc. that were on the books when the violations occurred.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • bmaz says:

                      The DOJ did not need a new office in order to prosecute offenders, they have always had that jurisdiction. But there are substantive changes to certain provisions it appears, such as the limitations provision for instance; there are others too such as pertinent scope of territorial jurisdiction etc. I hate the way Thomas reports things, and I am not necessarily overly adroit at reading statutes in “act” language as opposed to annotated and crossreferenced statutes in a WestLaw publication or something; I am still convinced there is something I am not piecing together. But if you simply read the Thomas link from Jason, that I reposted above, it sure looks like the thing does all kinds of interesting stuff above and beyond simply ordering up a new office in the DOJ.

                    • JasonLeopold says:

                      In the version of this bill introduced by Durbin back in July it specifically said (my emphasis):

                      The term `serious human rights offenses under Federal law’ includes–

                      `(2) genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, Nazi persecution, or the use or recruitment of child soldiers, as described in subparagraphs (E) and (G) of section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)).’.

                      A general summary of the bill described it as (again my emphasis):

                      Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009 – Repeals provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that establish an Office of Special Investigations within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to detect, investigate, and denaturalize aliens who have participated in Nazi persecution, genocide, or the commission of any act of torture or extrajudicial killing.

                      When it was amended on Nov. 6, they struck out the Nazi references.

                      Also, the bill says the purpose is:

                      To establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to enforce human rights laws, to make technical and conforming amendments to criminal and immigration laws pertaining to human rights violations, and for other purposes (my emphasis).

                      What do you think “other purposes” could mean?

      • bobschacht says:

        Thanks for this!
        This is quite remarkable. Of course, it shouldn’t be necessary to create such an office; these are things the DOJ should be doing as a matter of course. But having offices for people who are actually tasked with this specific responsibility would seem to sharpen the focus a bit.

        Furthermore, this legislation seems to have no statute of limitations, if I understand it correctly!

        Very interesting.

        Bob in AZ

    • emptywheel says:

      It almost certainly refers to the 92, otherwise wouldn’t show up in this FOIA. I did wonder, though, whether Document 6 refers to one set of tapes having been destroyed, as if there were two sets.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Maybe sloppiness in way the Vaughn descriptions are written? For instance, sometimes they refer specifically to AZ videotapes. Are we to infer that when they don’t specifically identify the issue as “AZ” that we are looking at something other than AZ tapes, a mixture, tapes of someone else?

        When we don’t know enough, we may start reading too much into things (or at least I do).

        This is a great job of pulling out the Durham withheld tapes. That is a big question: why these, and not any others?

        • MadDog says:

          I think EW is on to something here:

          …Documents 3, 5, 2, and 4 seem to capture the chain of documents asking for–and getting–authorization for the destruction of the torture tapes. Note the two different formulations asking for permission: one requesting authorization to destroy the tapes, the other asking for approach to give authorization to destroy the tapes (so there may be two levels of command here)…

          (My Bold)

          In re-reading one of the NYT articles about this cover-up, this portion jumped out at me in relation to EW’s surmise:

          …One day in November 2005, Mr. Rodriguez sent a cable ordering the destruction of the recordings. Soon afterward, he notified both Mr. Goss and Mr. Rizzo, taking full responsibility for the decision…

          Coupled with the quoted remark from ACLU’s latest timeline (from page 3 of 3 page PDF):

          Subject: “Request approval to destroy field videotapes.” Fourteen-page email with six embedded cables. “Three of the cables relate to the decision to destroy the 92 videotapes.” (11/20/2009 Vaughn Index 2)

          This leads me to believe that one of those cables was the Rodriguez cable that the NYT article describes. Remember that at this time Rodriguez was the head of the Directorate of Operations (DO)/National Clandestine Services (NCS) (Note: A curiousity was that the NCS was formally established on 10/13/05 just days after the torture tapes’ destruction).

          If EW is correct, perhaps some of the other cables in the chain are to the management folks over at the CIA’s CTC (CounterTerrorist Center) which also played a decision-point management role in interrogations down to the individual tactic/torture used.

          Perhaps it comes down to who the CIA folks/contractors at the torture site actually reported to. Perhaps they reported to the CTC instead of the DO (and soon to be NCS).

          The formulation of the phrase used to describe Document 5 is “unusual” to say the least: “Request for approval to proceed w/authorization of tape destruction”.

          As a synopsis of Document 5, I would guess it has an intended meaning that is accurate.

            • MadDog says:

              I have the same dim memory. *g*

              I did some googling around last night and found some organization charts for the CIA for the years 2004 and 2005.

              As you can see from the org charts, the CIA’s CounterTerrorist Center (CTC) was an organization that reported up through the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) in 2004, and then through the successor organization, the National Clandestine Services (NCS), in 2005.

              So while that may undercut a separate “reporting chain” theory a wee bit, it still may be the case that the CIA folks/contractors at the torture site in Thailand needed their own immediate CTC management to “sign-off” on the videotape destruction.

              Given my experience both in the military, and in large corporate organizations, when tasked with doing something from on high, it was SOP to double check with one’s immediate management.

              That a high level muckety-muck tells one to do something is not ever an excuse for keeping one’s own direct management out of the loop.

  2. alabama says:

    Deranging, but there’s no harm in trying to process this information….

    These guys pride themselves on their toughness, their “better not mess with us” posture, their high-minded service to God and Country under the most dire of circumstances. Yes, well, everyone loves a hero, so their attitude is understandable, predictably so… And hasn’t Cheney himself assured us that torture is a necessary evil?

    If so, why destroy these tapes? I don’t suppose for a minute that these folks are worried about breaking the law, because that’s what real men have to do under dire circumstances (Clint Eastwood shows us how, if we’re inclined to doubt this).

    Leaving me with only one explanation: after you’ve waterboarded a person fifty or sixty times, you begin to look pretty stupid, even comical. It’s as if you were showing everyone once and for all that you had no real idea of what the hell you were doing. Comical, therefore, as in “candid camera”. To some viewers, it might even look as if the tapes were taken to make torture look dumb. This is not the wished-for scenario, and so the tapes have to hit the cutting-room floor.

    (I’m assuming that real men don’t throw up when watching these tapes. They just snort with contempt at the stupidity shown in the making of them. Because it goes without saying that waterboarding is as American as a flag in a given Bush’s lapel.)

    • bobschacht says:

      Yeah. They had him hoe closely to the teleprompter until the fluff stuff near the end, at which point someone seems to have disabled the teleprompter, forcing Dean to ad lib, but no matter because by then the script was mostly out of his hands anyway.

      Bob in AZ

    • emptywheel says:

      Uh yeah. Very good suggestion.

      And note of the four email series, we have request to destroy, request to authorize destruction, a long email chain discussing request to destroy, and confirmation they were destroyed.

      But no email saying, “destroy.”

      Instead, the phone call Laura references.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Laura says that Rodriguez’s deputy was in the room for that conversation. That would be the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Services. To tie this into your retirements post, a bit of googling turns up an article from October 2007 referencing the “recently retired” Deputy Director of NCS who was appointed to that position in November 2005 by Porter Goss. Of note, this guy’s previous position was Chief of the East Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations (which includes Thailand where the tapes were made and stored).

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Ask, and you shall receive (link):

          Tuesday, 9 October 2007 – Tampa, FL Suncoast AFIO Chapter welcomes retired Deputy Director John Sano

          John Sano is the recently retired Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service and was appointed to this position in November 2005 by then DCI Porter Goss. Mr. Sano came to this position after having previously served as Chief of the East Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations from January through November 2005. As Deputy Director, Mr. Sano chaired the NCS’ Senior Leadership Team and oversaw the day-to-day management of the country’s Clandestine Service. In addition, Mr. Sano was an active member of the CIA’s Executive Management Team and regularly briefed senior Administration as well as Congressional Committee members on matters of national security and worldwide covert operations. Through his extensive interaction with other senior Intelligence Community members, Mr. Sano played an integral role in the establishment and direction of the newly formed NCS.

          I looked some more, and see Rozen outed Sano last May, updating her story:

          The destroyed torture tapes. As the chairman and ranking of the House Intelligence committee, Goss and Harman were both notified of the existence of CIA videotapes recording the CIA harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects in February 2003 (H/T Marcy Wheeler). Those tapes were destroyed under Goss’s tenure as CIA director, we now know. Was Harman notified? Was she not notified? How did that play into Goss Harman tensions and Gosslings’ concern about her possible ascent to chairman of HPSCI? Goss has said he did not approve the destruction of the tapes. That is not what other people at CIA are saying. Former deputy director of operations John Sano has told others that Goss told him and the director of operations to “take care of this.” According to what Sano has told others, Goss told Sano to call the CIA station in Thailand to order the tapes be destroyed, and ordered then director of operations Jose Rodriguez to notify the committees. But it’s not clear that Rodriguez, who was still under cover, actually did notify the committees. Goss has denied that he approved of the destruction of the tapes, and that he was consistent in expressing his opposition to it. Special prosecutor John Durham has been investigating the episode. Dusty Foggo’s prison sentence was delayed a week so he could testify to Durham about what he knew of the matter a few weeks ago. There’s surely more to be coming out on this that is of first order concern including potentially legally for some of the actors involved.

          Btw, Rozen does not make the connection re Chief East Asia Division that you do, WO.

          • Jeff Kaye says:

            By the way, while I’m in research mode, Sano left CIA to go to work for as Director of Business Development, Global Government Solutions Group, Cisco Systems. But he also went to serve on the board of Aegis, LLC, a major security contractor.

            Old spooks never die. They go serve on boards of directors and scoop up the bucks for all their government services. And should they be able to do a favor for their old employers, well…

          • WilliamOckham says:

            I think area Division Chiefs in the DO, oops, NCS work at HQ in Langley. I’m just pointing out that this was the chain of command. Well, and that getting that job as #2 guy in the NCS might have been a payoff for doing Goss’s dirty work.

              • WilliamOckham says:

                I read that post from April on the day it came out (that’s what RSS readers are for) and have never forgotten it.

                • MadDog says:

                  I still check Laura’s War and Piece place out daily even though most of her work nowadays is over at Politico.

                  That RSS stuff has always seem just too new-fangled for my tastes. How I ever worked 30 years in high tech is beyond me. *g*

      • bobschacht says:

        Yes, indeed. Jeff Kaye’s conjecture is confirmed. Why am I not surprised that Porter Goss was involved?

        And I wonder whose smiling mug was the impetus for this illegal act of CYA?

        Bob in AZ

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        It would be odd, I’d think, if anyone would ever put down such an instruction, as to destroy the tapes, on paper (so to speak, i.e., or on electronic or digital media).

        Just as I don’t believe we will ever find a “paper” order authorizing the torture program. The torture memos are as close to that as we can find, but Yoo is correct about one thing, they are not operational, i.e., they do not give the order to torture, they only make such an order possible.

        • bmaz says:

          That is not necessarily true; once they are used as paper cover for acts that have already occurred, which was the case in at least some instances, they are effectively “operational” upon issuance.

        • MadDog says:

          Yes…and no. *g*

          I can understand the lack of a paper trail as part and parcel of CIA training/mentality, and I can see a requirement for a paper trail when tasked from on high with doing something that might get one into trouble.

          Destroying evidence = good CIA practice!


          Destroying evidence = criminal behavior.

          I suppose that it would really depend on the trust/gullibility of the order receiver in the field.

          Should one cover one’s own butt or trust the grand poobahs back in DC to cover it for one?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      The Rozen story makes it appear that Rodriguez and Goss wanted the tapes destroyed because some senior people made appearances on the tape. But we know now that questions about destruction of videotape and possibly other evidence arose in the late summer or fall of 2002, and appear to have been motivated by those in the field (or so it seems).

      The fact that other evidence was to be destroyed, or was discussed as being destroyed appears to undercut the thesis that the destruction was to save the identities of certain senior CIA personnel from being exposed (although that might have been one of the reasons feeding the decision when it finally came).

  3. JasonLeopold says:

    lastly, it was introduced by Sen. Durbin in July

    And here’s a portion of Leahy’s statement after it passed Saturday (how funny of Leahy).

    I am always looking for ways in which we can improve the investigation and prosecution of international human rights abusers, including those who seek safe haven in the United States. That is what led me to develop and fight for several years to enact the Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act, which became law in 2004. That is what I did in supporting and implementing legislation for the Convention Against Torture. That is what I have done in my work on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

    • bobschacht says:

      I don’t know if it is significant, but this Act was “Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by Senate.” Engrossed? I don’t recall seeing that language before.

      This is actually pretty funny. I’ll bet they slipped it through during all the fooforah about the Health Care Bill to catch the Republicans off-guard.

      The sponsor was Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 7/20/2009)
      But get this– These are the cosponsors:
      Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] – 10/13/2009
      Sen Coburn, Tom [OK] – 7/20/2009
      Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] – 9/30/2009

      Tom Coburn??? And he’s the first cosponsor??? WTF???
      And it “Passed Senate with amendments by Unanimous Consent”???

      There’s gotta be a back story on this.

      Bob in AZ

  4. alinaustex says:

    Would the willful destruction of media that a court had ordered be preserved be a crime ? And further if that willful destruction of media was also done to help hide other criminal behavior IE waterboarding detainess would that be a crime ?
    And on another topic on this thread -one theory about why Coburn could have co-sponsored the bill setting up the stand alone war crimes unit at DOJ is that true conservatives are very angry at Cheney right now because of his reckless and fleckless behavior as dubya’s ‘co-president’ -particularly regarding how the Big Dick lied to all of them regarding the reasons for going to war with Iraq . This theory might also be supported when reviewing what former Leader Dick Armey has publically stated -to paraphrase “Dick Cheney Feith Cambone all lied to us about the threat Saddam posed ..”
    Then again Cheney has been in Texas campaigning for Sen Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the primary challenge to Rick Perry (wtfo ?)

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, obstruction on both counts; potentially conspiracy depending on how you lay the facts and bookend predicate crimes out. As to this new act, the creation of a new office is meaningless – well that is not exactly the right word – but I don’t see as particularly controversial. But it also seems to additionally do other things that are much more touchy and those, not the new office at DOJ, are what interest me.

  5. alinaustex says:

    alinaustex to [email protected]
    And would the statute of limitations clock start ticking from the first time that particular judge in that particular case was denied the evidence sought because that particular media had been illegally destroyed ?
    I am wondering here about the politics of the tapes being destroyed -specifically in the context of the generally held view( at least down here in Texas) that President Bush 41 is very upset with how Cheney and the neocons hijacked President Bush 43 ‘s two terms in office. Recall that General Scowcroft and many other PappaBush heavy weights tried and failed to stop the Iraqi occupation . Recall too that Bush 41 also was and remains an internationalist that sought diplomatic solutions. Furthermore as former DCI -PappaBush was very unhappy about Brewster-Jennings being flushed down the toilet by the Cheney OVP minions. Then there is the recurring issue of the pushback the CIA has for the the efforts by former SecDef Rumsfeld to co-opt much of the what the spooks were doing vis a vis JSOC , and the SAP headed by McChrystal . The regular military services also were /are very concerned about the SAP /McChrystal being outside the normal chain of command -and well they should be look what happened at Camp Nama.
    Anyway its my hope that these rumours of PappaBush wishing to reclaim Dubya’s lost eight years are true -and that when given the opportunity Bush 41 will actively throw the Big Dick and the Neocons ‘under the bus “.
    And the case were Rumsfeld may have been involved in destroying torture media as it relates to al-Qhantani-perhaps that particular case could very well be that bus that is now in enroute.
    BTW bmaz excellent post on the White House getting punked -its very scary that those two got inside that party –

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