Michael Hayden Lied to SSCI on April 12, 2007

The latest Ghost Detainee FOIA materials [long pdf] (for a general overview see this post) prove that Michael Hayden lied to the Senate on April 12, 2007.

One of the things included in this packet is a heavily redacted transcript of Hayden’s classified briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) on April 12, 2007. There’s a lot that is dubious in this briefing, but these five paragraphs are key:

While FBI and CIA continued unsuccessfully to try to glean information from Abu Zubaydah using established US Government interrogation techniques, all of those involved were mindful that the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks were still at large and, according to available intelligence reportedly, were actively working to attack the US Homeland again. CIA also knew from its intelligence holdings that Abu Zubaydah was withholding information that could help us track down al-Qa’ida leaders and prevent attacks. As a result, CIA began to develop its own interrogation program, keeping in mind at all times that any new interrogation techniques must comply with US law and US international obligations under the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

A handful of techniques were developed for potential use; these techniques are effective, safe, and do not violate applicable US laws or treaty obligations. In August 2002, CIA began using these few and lawful interrogation techniques in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. As stated by the President in his speech on 6 September 2006, “It became clear that he (Abu Zubaydah) had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures … the procedures were tough, and thy were safe, and lawful, and necessary.”

Prior to using any new technique on Abu Zubaydah, CIA sought and obtained from the Department of Justice an opinion confirming that none of these new techniques violated US statutes prohibiting torture or US obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.

As CIA’s efforts to implement these authorities got underway in 2002, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, the Speaker and the minority leader of the House, and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees were fully briefed on the interrogation procedures.

After the use of these techniques, Abu Zubaydah became one of our most important sources of intelligence on al-Qa’ida. [my emphasis]

There’s plenty to dispute in this statement.We know FBI had success in gathering information from Abu Zubaydah. We know CIA turned out to be wrong about the purported troves of information Abu Zubaydah had. We know that Mitchell and Jessen had already been engaged to develop their torture program before CIA declared traditional interrogation to be unusable. We know OLC really didn’t consider whether CIA’s torture program violated CAT for the Bybee Memos.  It is indefensible to argue that Abu Zubaydah “became one of our most important sources of intelligence on al-Qa’ida” given that only 10 pieces of intelligence from Abu Zubaydah proved useful enough to appear in the 9/11 report.

By April 12, 2007, Michael Hayden had to have known that. But I can’t prove that.

It’s even harder to fathom that he didn’t know his assertion that “In August 2002, CIA began using these [torture] techniques” to be false. Or his claim that “prior to using any new technique on Abu Zubaydah, CIA sought and obtained … an opinion confirming that none of these new techniques violated [the law and treaty obligations].” After all, even if he didn’t review the cables and the FBI discussions making it clear that the torture started long before August 1, in February 2007, Hayden received the ICRC report making it clear that Abu Zubaydah’s torture began weeks, not months, after he was captured.

But who knows? Maybe CIA kept Hayden completely in the dark about the many falsehoods he was telling Congress. Maybe he really didn’t know that CIA tortured for a few months (reportedly, with the okay from the White House), and only then got the written approval from OLC.

But this assertion … this assertion we know Michael Hayden knew to be false.

As CIA’s efforts to implement these authorities got underway in 2002, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, the Speaker and the minority leader of the House, and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees were fully briefed on the interrogation procedures.

That’s because the day before Hayden testified at the SSCI hearing, in a memo addressed to him entitled “Information for 12 April SSCI Hearing,” CIA laid out all the briefings they had done on torture and rendition. And CIA’s own records–records Hayden received the day before he made these statements in preparation for the hearing–show that:

  • Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader from the time the torture began until the end of 2002, and Minority Leader until the end of 2004, was never briefed on the torture program.
  • Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader until the end of 2003, was never briefed on the torture program while in leadership (though as a member of SSCI, he was briefed on the torture program on March 15, 2006).
  • Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House through the end of 2006, was not briefed on any aspect of the program until July 1, 2005.
  • Dick Gephardt, House Minority Leader through the end of 2003 (and therefore, through the worst torture) was never briefed on the program.
  • Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader from 2005 until 2007 and Senate Majority Leader thereafter, was not briefed until September 6, 2006, when Bush made the program public.
  • Though Nancy Pelosi had an (incomplete) briefing as House Intelligence Ranking Member in 2002, she did not have a briefing as House Minority Leader.
  • Just Bill Frist, who was first briefed in July 2004, seven months after he took over as Senate Majority Leader, was briefed in timely fashion at all.

The Intelligence Committee heads were briefed, however inadequately. But with the exception of Bill Frist, the CIA barely briefed Congressional Leadership at all.

Update: William Ockham added this very good additional proof:

Take a look at pg. 40. It’s a MFR (Memorandum For the Record) from the CIA briefing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (SAC/DEF). It’s from May 10, 2004 (i.e. damage control after Abu Ghraib).The first paragraph talks about activities in Iraq (why that’s redacted is beyond me). The second paragraph is about the black sites. It says:

He [CIA GC Scott Muller] indicated tht the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees had been briefed as well as staff directors, but those are the only Members/staff of Congress that had been briefed.

There it is in black and white.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. rosalind says:

    ew: seems to be a word or words missing from the “As CIA’s efforts to implement these authorities…” quotes.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      No, I disagree. In fact, there was torture before 9/11. Getting that info is going to be difficult, but slowly it will leak out.

      Let’s consider, for instance, why the Army School on Interrogation had a separate, more highly classified program for “strategic interrogation” throughout the 1990s. We don’t know what was done there. But in reading interviews with Gen. Hill, and other statements, e.g., from the SASC report, we learn that “strategic interrogation centers” were reserved for more “intensive” interrogations, and were the places where the SERE torture was implemented. But what was before the SERE torture? I believe it was isolation, sleep deprivation, fear, sensory deprivation and overload, i.e., it was the Kubark-Appendix M practice (which always included, btw, an attempt at inculcation at rapport), labeled as “strategic interrogation” techniques.

      I must also take issue in general with the characterization of the FBI’s information on AZ as “successful.” They may have gotten him to cough up info on KSM, but the FBI continues to point to their success in having AZ “reveal” the “dirty bomb” plot, and finger Binyam Mohamed and Jose Padilla. We know now that there was no plot. Success? Or the attempt to capitalize on a statement by BM, given during his torture, about seeing a joke site on making an atom bomb, and then using it early on to create a torture plot to terrorize Americans with fear. (I mean the terrorization was by U.S. authorities, who used fear of a “dirty bomb” to help push through Patriot Act and other “reforms”.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    Here’s proof of another sort. Take a look at pg. 40. It’s a MFR (Memorandum For the Record) from the CIA briefing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (SAC/DEF). It’s from May 10, 2004 (i.e. damage control after Abu Ghraib).

    The first paragraph talks about activities in Iraq (why that’s redacted is beyond me). The second paragraph is about the black sites. It says:

    He [CIA GC Scott Muller] indicated tht the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees had been briefed as well as staff directors, but those are the only Members/staff of Congress that had been briefed.

    There it is in black and white.

  3. scribe says:

    There’s enough in this post alone to go to the grand jury and get an indictment against Hayden.

    Not that it will happen, but still….

    • emptywheel says:

      I actually wonder whether stuff like this wasn’t what caused DiFi to include committee notification in her torture investigation.

      In fact, I half wonder whether this dump is an attempt to prempt something coming out of SSCI.

      • scribe says:

        Hell if I know. What I’d really like to see (but won’t) would be one of the Intel Committee people doping like Gravel did with his subcommitee – hold hearings at of hours and start reading the (then classified TS) Pentagon Papers into the record and do it all under cover of the Speech and Debate Clause.

        I suppose we won’t have to worry about that after the coming elections, though. Once the Rethugs take over and all. We’ll wind up with native-born-ness hearings and such.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Do you expect more than anguished, pearl-clutching cries of, “We were not told … we didn’t know” … from the Committee, then?

        Something like, “Here’s proof! We read it over at Marcy Wheeler’s place”?

        Too much to hope for something like, “It would appear that members of Congress have been consistently lied to, by several administrations, over a number of years. That, indeed, a major attempt to subvert justice has occurred, at the highest levels of this government, and, in fact, a conspiracy was entered into, and continues, by numerous parties to …”

        Naw, things like that can’t happen, yet, as it would do two things:

        It would recognize the all-to-obvious truth.

        AND

        It would throw the nation into crisis.

  4. klynn says:

    Something is about to go down.

    EW, did you see this?

    The Polish authorities have for the first time admitted their involvement in the CIA’s secret programme for the rendition of high-level terrorist suspects from Iraq and Afghanistan, it emerged today.

    After years of stonewalling, Warsaw’s air control service confirmed that at least six CIA flights had landed at a disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.

    “It is time for the authorities to provide a full accounting of Poland’s role in rendition,” Adam Bodnar, of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, said.

    “These flight records reinforce the troubling findings of official European inquiries and global human rights groups, showing complicity with CIA abuse across Europe.”

    For years, European and human rights investigators have believed Poland played a key role in the secret renditions programme, which became a human rights scandal for the George Bush administration.

    (snip)

    “[The Polish aviation authority] collaborated with the CIA by accepting the task of navigating these disguised flights into and out of Szymany airport without adhering to the requirements of international flight planning regulations.

    “The most remarkable aspect is that the Polish government, which maintained for more than four years that no such records existed – or that, if they did, they were untraceable – has now provided an apparently comprehensive list of these landings, compiled and presented in an orderly and coherent fashion.

    (my bold)

    Busted.

    No wonder Bybee’s lawyer posted the statement.

    • DWBartoo says:

      The cover-up continues to unravel, at the edges … klynn.

      Such are the limitations of the best-laid (snork!/snark!) plans …

      But … the statutes ARE running out.

      Poland? Who you gonna believe? Poland or yer lying Political Class?

      DW

    • Rayne says:

      There may be some other political gamesmanship going on at the same time. The Bush administration offered to put in a missile defense shield in Poland; the Obama administration has nixed the program. So now Poland has no good reason to remain quiet.

      You might want to keep an eye on Romania, though, now that there’s chatter about a missile defense program for that country.

      And guess which country has not acknowledged two rumored black sites?

      • klynn says:

        Yep. I was reading some interesting background information on that earlier today. The article I found the most interesting was this Cheney “freak” and shout about Obama.

        My guess is, the defense shield was, as you note, the hush money negotiated by Cheney; thus, his loud criticism.

        • bobschacht says:

          Cheney providing advice on the proper conduct of diplomacy to Obama & Hilary Clinton ranks right up there with a camel giving beauty tips to Sarah Palin. Not much reason to pay any attention.

          Bob in AZ

  5. nomolos says:

    Michael Hayden Lied to SSCI on Briefings, Torture

    No, say it isn’t so. Both Senate and House committees know full well that laws were broken, lies were spoken and torture and murder went unchecked during the Cheney administration and yet not a damn thing has been done and not a damn thing will be done. One can only hope that between Spain and England truth will come out and prosecutions for war crimes in world court will follow.

    Even if there were video of bush and cheney waterboarding an American citizen the Congress would not give a damn or investigate. The lack of action by Congress since the crimes were known, in 2004 and before, means only that congress was complicit in the crimes.

  6. rmwarnick says:

    Abu Zubaydah was a guy who ran a safe house, and wasn’t even an al-Qaeda member. But torture anyone and they will tell you whatever you want them to say.

  7. Clavis says:

    It’s adorable how you guys bring these facts up as if this country still had a functioning government to conduct investigations or a functioning press to expose misdeeds. You might as well conduct a statistical analysis of what bugs are to be found under what rocks.

    • Rayne says:

      And you propose something more constructive, like…?

      It would be nice to have a document trail for the day many years from now when the future wants to look at how and why we went off the rails, at a very minimum.

      • Clavis says:

        I’m not proposing anything constructive. That maniac who flew his plane into that building had the right idea, but the people as a whole will never follow his lead, so it was a futile gesture. If our elected representatives were more fearful as a group of our reprisal, maybe they’d actually represent we, the people. (It seems that duty, honor and character no longer play any role in maintaining that relationship, if they ever did.)

        It just seems like we’re listing individual murders with no sight of any solution to decrease the murder rate itself. To even bring up Hayden’s dishonesty implies a naive assumption that exposing it accomplishes something, which might be true if any of the involved parties were still fulfilling their Constititutional duties instead of participating in a group charade while lining their respective pockets. The Congress doesn’t care, the media doesn’t care, the people don’t care. To whose attention, exactly, in other words, are we bringing this?

        It’s like the old Young Ones line, when Neil keeps yelling “Surprise!” because it’s his birthday; Mike responds, “Well, you already know, and we don’t care — so where’s the surprise?”

        • Clavis says:

          Keep in mind, I am *not* proposing violent action. I am simply pointing out that our “elected representatives”, by and large, no longer have ANY impetus to actually represent us. It used to be that plain old self-preservation required them to at least kinda represent our interests, but the party money machine that fuels never-ending incumbency no longer requires voter input. So the only motivation that COULD ever get these criminals to do what we want is the fear that their homes and property and families would be forfeit if they continue to be traitors. Since that situation is unlikely to ever become a reality, any individual act of violence becomes just another “terr’ist act”.

    • qweryous says:

      Edit:
      My post added nothing substantive to the appropriate subject of discussion (which should be obvious at the top- prior to comments) so I deleted it.

  8. ShotoJamf says:

    O/T: Yo Mod: Is there an issue with accessing the 12:35 Jon Walker post? Something about rights to view a draft?

  9. burnt says:

    Well, I hate trying to follow the comments without being able to just search for the text in the pdf. I made a searchable version named 100219_CIA_release1searchable.pdf.

    This document is nice and small at < 3megs but the quality is lower so some searches may fail but it's better than nothing.

  10. iremember54 says:

    The weasel was not only incharge of the militaries domestic spying, but pushed to have it increased. Then He got promoted, and became even more of a slimeball. This guy should have been up on charges for the things He has done to this Country.

  11. Batocchio says:

    Angler has an instance or two of Hayden lying, or at least intentionally misleading Congress, since he’s a fan of the barely technically true but highly misleading statement. He’s never been a big fan of civil liberties, oversight or honesty. I wish when he wrote his torture defense op-eds, it was pointed out more often that he’s potentially in legal jeopardy, and faaaaar from a disinterested party.