Senator Bob Graham: Majority on Senate Intelligence Committee Supported Interrogation Oversight in 2002

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that the CIA Memorandum for the Record from their February 4, 2003 briefing of Pat Roberts revealed that Bob Graham, Roberts’ predecessor as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had attempted to institute some oversight over the CIA’s interrogation program in November 2002. After CIA discouraged the idea in the briefing, Roberts immediately backed off the idea of doing any oversight.

Roberts’ [redacted; staffer?] asked me whether I had “taken up the line” the Committee’s, actually Senator Graham’s, late November request to undertake its own “assessment” of the enhanced interrogation. I [Stan Moskowitz, head of Congressional Affairs] explained to Senator Roberts the dialogue I had had with [redacted], and our responce [sic] that we would not support reading another staffer into the program nor allow any staffer to review the interrogations in real time or visit the clandestine site where the interrogations were taking place. Quickly, the Senator interjected that he saw no reason for the Committee to pursue such a request and could think of “ten reasons right off why it is a terrible idea” for the Committee to do any such thing as had been proposed. Turning to [redacted], he asked whether they thought otherwise and they indicated that they agreed with the Senator.

I wanted to know what kind of oversight Graham had had in mind, so I asked Senator Graham for an explanation of the reference. According to Graham, a majority of Committee members in November 2002–including a few Republicans–supported conducting oversight of the program. And it seems that CIA mischaracterized to Roberts what Graham had planned, perhaps in an effort to dissuade Roberts from conducting that oversight.

Graham reminded me (as I reported last May) that he was never briefed on the abusive techniques the CIA was using. So he didn’t decide to do more oversight of the program because of concerns about the techniques.

Rather, there was “a lot of smoke” that made it clear “something out of the norm was occurring.” There were “rumors that something was occurring out of the ordinary.” (I asked specifically whether he had heard any rumors about the November 2002 Salt Pit death, but he said he had not.)

But contrary to what the CIA represented to Roberts, Graham wasn’t asking to “review the interrogations in real time.” He was planning initial oversight of the interrogation program. He wanted to ask basic questions about what was going on:

  • What’s going on?
  • Who authorized the program?
  • What [intelligence] are we getting out of it?

Graham told me that “well over a majority” of the committee supported doing such oversight. When I asked, he said Jay Rockefeller, who replaced him as the Ranking Democrat on the Committee, supported the effort. Though Graham didn’t remember precisely who was on the Committee at the time (here’s the list), he named Richard Lugar and Mike DeWine as two of the Republicans who were probably in the majority supporting this kind of oversight over the program.

But between CIA’s apparent misrepresentations to Roberts and Roberts’ own disinterest in asking even the most basic questions about the CIA’s interrogation programs, those efforts ended when Graham left the committee and Roberts took over as Chair.

And that’s how Pat Roberts and CIA agreed to avoid asking or answering even the most basic questions about the Bush Administration’s torture program.

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71 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      His leaving the committee wasn’t about retiring, though–I asked. At that time, there was an 8-year limit on SSCI service. He had already gotten a 2 year extension. So he left the committee because of normal tenure limits.

      • Jim White says:

        Thanks. I had always thought there was something sinister in the high turnover of the intelligence committees in that era and this helps allay those fears a bit. I’m not sure I had heard that service was term limited. You said it was “then”. Does that mean it’s no longer limited? I think turnover there is probably a good thing if it is agreed in advance.

  1. BillE says:

    What a dizzying display EW. Just trying to keep up with you is a challenge. Let alone make a worthwhile addition.

    The fact that it is taking such an incredible amount of deconstruction to figure out what the team B gov’t guys did shows what happens when you combine all the known features of Federalist and Republican authoritarian wet dreams together with smart unethical lawyers.

    In the case of Graham, are his famous notebooks/diaries classified? You know like AZ’s.

  2. Mary says:

    One of the really basic questions I haven’t seen any answers to – did OLC review the EO on torture and approve it?

    All the torture docs produced and still the EO is hidden away. If you know (and again, not a lot of questioning of the lawyers on this – but Ashcroft at a minimum HAD to have known, the others knew whether you can pin it or not) that your client is getting ready to issue a third party document based on the advice you gave, what lawyer doesn’t review it first?

    And the Presidential findings for limiting briefings to just some hand picked guys and gals here and there and ignoring the Nat Sec Act requirements – those are still missing in action too aren’t they? Or have a missed their release on a nice Friday when other stuff was going on?

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not sure whether you’re talking about the Presidential MON (September 17, 2001) or the July 2007 EO (which Bradbury has testified under oath doesn’t exist).

      But in either case, there’s not much real support for there being an EO, per se. A Presidential MON, yes, which didn’t mention interrogations. Reference to an EO that was instead handled in OLC opinion. But I’m not sure based on third hand word of guys in teh field we should be sure tehre is an EO.

      • Mary says:

        Yes – I’m referring to the third hand word – like from this:

        http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI.121504.4940_4941.pdf

        with FBI agents who were supposedly tasked after the Abu Grhaib revelations with reporting abuse talking about the EO and asserting that they aren’t going to be reporting as abuse things that they think are covered by an EO they seem to both have heard about and to have heard things it authorized.

        Also, though, I’m focused on the issue of all the claims about Tenet et al wanting written policy cover, and more than that, the fact that any torturer would be nuts not to get an EO as cover. Plus there has been all the reference to all the tortures being specifically approved – but there aren’t enough OLC memos to begin to cover all the tortured (anyone seen the el-Masri memo, for example?) so is it just a spun tail that there were authorizations for all the tortures, or are they talking about NSC authorizations – or an EO? I wouldn’t throw Bradbury further than I could throw him and you also have a time frame for him when the WH would have very likely been in active tracks covering mode.

        I can’t believe that no one was getting an EO for the torture program – I just don’t buy it. Someone had to set the policy and that had to be someone who could give the torturers the reassurance to go forth and torture vigorously and video it.

        OTOH, we have reports of revocations of parts of other EOs and reports of US assassination programs and you have to wonder where the EOs are on those programs too.

        Maybe there was never an EO on torture, but I would bet the other way. Whether it was kept secret and then withdrawn or covered up as the abuses began leaking – I’d buy that, but for the torturers (more so their bosses – Rumsfeld and Tenet etc.) to not have an EO would be really stupid.

        OTOH, it’s not like someone becomes a torturer bc they are brilliant problem solvers. So maybe.

        But with the fallout from the missionary family murders killings in Latin America and the effects for the CIA participants from their foray into assisted infanticide, I just have a hard time believing the CIA lawyers (who were dealing with – and possibly not very truthfully – the American Missionary family killings) would let the program get to the what it became with no EO for authorization. Black sites set up with no EO?

        Nothing’s impossible, but it’s hard to believe that the CIA crew would be that lax and definitely hard to believe that the military crew wouldn’t have some kind of order behind their MI torture programs.

        Non-sequitor – lately when I’ve visited the site I get a lot of *I E Has had to close” type messages and tabs disappearing, then being restored.

        • emptywheel says:

          Right–so that’s second or third hand reference to an EO.

          Which was sort of my point.

          As a threshold matter the guys at this grunt level would need no more than a rumor or a letter saying there’s a rumor of an EO. Frankly if you look at the 2007 OLC opinion–in which there appears to have been a rumor of an EO, but there is apparently only an EO (subject to be proven wrong but then Bradbury goes to jail), and that says one of the things going on is just that–illusion.

          And we have zero proof one way or another, so for us to argue it exists, is problematic particularly given the lengths we knwo BushCo went to to avoid leaving a paper trail.

          Look, I’m agnostic that there is an EO or not–aside form the Presidential MON. Aside from that, I thinnk we need proof first, because the absence of EO is frankly more proof of who they are then the existence of it.

          • DWBartoo says:

            “… the absence of EO is frankly more proof of who they are than the existence of it.”

            That is the zinger, EW.

            The measure of what we are up against.

            It is courage and capacity such as yours along with that owned by the others who comprise the depth of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding characteristic of this site which shall meet and surpass the expedient cleverness of “their” dearest calculations.

            Thank you, all.

            DW

  3. Leen says:

    Senator Pat Roberts ran great defense for the Bush administrations illegal and immoral programs and false intelligence. Think Progress did a run of articles about Pat roberts doing everything he could to divert and delay the investigation into the creation, cherry picking and dissemination of false pre war inteligence. What did we witness as a result of Phase I and Phase II of the SSCI? Nothing

    Senator Cover Up Roberts

    Remember this claim
    http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/11/iraq-intel/
    Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Chairman of the Senate Cover-up Committee
    http://thinkprogress.org/roberts-coverup/

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The committee’s concerns had to be serious for Mike DeWine even to consider engaging in oversight. He is far more conservative and the-prosecutor-must-be-right in his thinking than Voinovich, an older-style GOP conservative. Thankfully, and as you know, Sherrod Brown replaced DeWine in 2006 and Democrats may pick up Voinovich’s seat in November.

    • Leen says:

      I was surprised to see DeWine’s name. Ohio’s Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is going to pick up Voinovich’s seat. She is remarkable, so smart, cleaned up our election process. Trust her.
      http://www.jenniferbrunner.com/

      We need an incredibly capable, brilliant woman (need more women in the Senate). Jennifer Brunner is that woman. She would make for a great guest here at FDL

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      The committee’s concerns had to be serious for Mike DeWine even to consider engaging in oversight. He is far more conservative and the-prosecutor-must-be-right in his thinking than Voinovich, an older-style GOP conservative.

      That’s a very, very good point.

      And remember, later even Voinivich flew into a frenzy when John Bolton (who was almost certainly involved in getting Plame’s identity to the CheneyBots) was put up as UN Ambassador.

      So these guys were not even remotely ‘lefties’.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Was it Jay’s responsibility to have pushed Roberts to get back to the clarity the previous committee members had?

        According to EW’s Torture Tape Timeline, Rockefeller wasn’t briefed until after March 2003. And we’ll recall that later on, he was hand-writing things and locking them up in an attempt to keep a record, presumably one that couldn’t be lifted off a computer network, nor ‘listened to’ the keystroke patterns to decipher. In other words, it appears that certainly by 2004 or 2005, Rockefeller didn’t trust anyone in the administration.

        • klynn says:

          I recall all those details regarding Jay.

          The question better worded:

          How does “consistency” of committee operations happen as members retire? This is a very important committee. To rely on CIA to convey the committee history is a bit of the fox guarding the hen house?

          Knowing Graham, I assume he wrote up a “transition” memo for Roberts.

          • emptywheel says:

            To be fair, the staffer did carry over, so he could have offered more continuity. I think the big problem is that Committees are still subject to the whims of the Chair. One thing Graham did say was that he didn’t know if the Committee as constituted in 2003 would have supported an inquiry.

            Though I actually think the committee would have been more supportive of oversight. From 2002 to 2003, you lose Graham, Durbin, Shelby, Lugar, Kyl, Inhofe, and Thompson (so, three yes votes) and gain Bond, Lott, Snowe, Hagel, Chambliss, and Warner. Of those, I think you gain three, maybe four votes (Snowe and Hagel consistently voted against BUsh on oversight issues, Warner was very supportive of oversight over torture including on the SASC report, and Lott supported oversight over Bush a surprising degree of time though obviously not consistently).

            So the problem, from 2002 to 2003 is not in the support for oversight, it’s in the Chairman.

            • Jeff Kaye says:

              FYI re Warner- He was the one who stood up to the Pentagon and refused to let the AFM be released with a classified “annex”. So the 2006 AFM was released with a public Appendix M. I am grateful to Warner for fighting that fight.

            • klynn says:

              I think the big problem is that Committees are still subject to the whims of the Chair. One thing Graham did say was that he didn’t know if the Committee as constituted in 2003 would have supported an inquiry.

              It is unfortunate, to have had the years of continuity with Graham’s tenure on the committee, that such continuity of accountability was lost in a blink of Roberts becoming chair. The incredible bipartisan work on accountability during Graham’s time all lost.

              Not a good way for tax dollars to be wasted. And this will cost our country so much.

              (I appreciate the “continuity” of the staffer carry-over. However, I would assume in such a committee, CIA would trump a staffer, for influence on policies of accountability or the lack of such policy.)

              • CTuttle says:

                …was lost in a blink of Roberts becoming chair. The incredible bipartisan work on accountability during Graham’s time all lost.

                Sadly, there’s not even a handful of Senators, amongst the current crop, that even aspire to attain the Church Committee’s level of oversight…! 8-(

      • Leen says:

        Will never forget the John Bolton nomination hearings. I have never ever seen Senator Biden, Kerry, Kennedy, Boxer, Lincoln Chaffee so pissed off when they were demanding that the Bush administration turn over the NSA intercepts allegedly of Bolton and team wire tapping Colin Powell’s negotiations with Iran. They were so visibly pissed off that I thought they were going to jump over some tables and beat the shit out of Bolton. He was being so arrogant and defiant. Even Voinovich looked deeply concerned.

        The general’s revenge

        Colin Powell, no longer the loyal soldier, rises up to help stop conservative hard-liner John Bolton from becoming U.N. ambassador.

        By Sidney Blumenthal
        http://dir.salon.com/story/opinion/blumenthal/2005/04/28/powells_revenge/index.html
        “And after Bolton attempted to coerce a State Department intelligence officer to agree to an unfounded report about nonexistent Cuban WMD, Powell personally assembled the entire intelligence staff to instruct them to ignore Bolton.

        When British Foreign Minister Jack Straw complained to Powell that Bolton was obstructing negotiations with Iran on its development of nuclear weapons, Powell ordered that Bolton be cut out of the process, telling an aide: “Get a different view.” The British also objected to Bolton’s interference in talks with Libya, and again Powell removed Bolton. But much as he may have wanted to, Powell could not dismiss Bolton because of a powerful patron: Vice President Dick Cheney.

        The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria, and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The Foreign Relations Committee discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

        Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was likely spying on Powell, his senior advisors, and other officials reporting to the secretary of state on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies in the Pentagon and the vice president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and well known to be working in league against Powell. If the intercepts are ever released, they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counterintelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, resembling the hunted character played by Will Smith in “Enemy of the State.” Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the State Department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee. But Rice so far has refused. What is she hiding by her coverup?”
        ——————————————————–

        Have those NSA intercepts ever been released. Or are they in a Cheney vault in the Cheney bunker?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Holy sh!t, Leen.

          Didn’t you know that Bart Gellman’s “Angler” reported that one of the people being listened to was Richard Haass (then the top State Dept diplomat, IIRC), who was talking with Iranians in Bahrain or somewhere in the Mideast?!

          In other words, Eric Edelman (yes, his name does show up in EW’s Timelines and “Anatomy of Deceit”) was in Cheney’s office reading the intercepts of what were — presumably! — Haass’s efforts to open up diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

          And Bolton and the whole neocon cabal were apoplectic about the very thought of anything but bomb, bomb, bombing Iran — at the very same time these cretins** were being played for fools by the likes of Ghorbanifar and Chalabi, who sure as hell appear to be Iranian agents.

          In other words, the cabal of neocon cretins being fooled by Iran (due to their ideological terrors regarding other nations, or oil, or whatever else, which made them paranoid enough to be easily duped) were doing the work of whatever extremist thugs in Iran sought to weaken any reasonable diplomatic openings. At least, that’s the only conceiveable way that I can read it.

          And now BabyDick is trying to demonize DoJ attorneys.
          Which is almost comically in character.
          These puppets think they pull everyone else’s strings; they never think about who might be pulling theirs.

          Meanwhile, Biden’s in Israel — or heaven only knows where — busting his ass to keep the Israeli rightwingers from doing something stupid. About the very Iran that probably used the neocons (via Chalabi, and Ghorbanifar) like a bunch of duped tools.

          I will never get clear on the ‘truth’ of what happened.
          But looking at the world today, it’s tough not to assume that Iranian agents led some of those neocons around like dupes on a stick. Unbelievable.

          ** No personal insults intended toward Crete. Simply a time-honored expression.

  5. klynn says:

    Let me get this straight. The SOP for the committee operations as membership turns over is to rely on CIA to give the history on Committee concerns and operational procedures?

    Was it Jay’s responsibility to have pushed Roberts to get back to the clarity the previous committee members had?

  6. klynn says:

    It is a bit of a surprise that CIA would “work” Roberts due to his PRISP (Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program). Although, the program has been around since the early 1990’s, so Roberts probably didn’t care to know “details” of SIC.

    Makes one wonder if Roberts did support the destruction of the torture tapes after all…

    • eCAHNomics says:

      The first thought that occurred to me (knowing nothing about Roberts) is that he might have been read in enough to know that congress was better off not knowing. Plausible deniability.

  7. orionATL says:

    the importance of the cia actively working to avoid oversight is that they can no longer claim to have been pushed into torturing by the administration.

    had the cia wanted some “protection” from cheney and rumsfeld, congressional intelligence committees would have been just the port to anchor in.

    the cia now has at least two acts of deception that indicate to me they were actively seeking to keep their torturing venture running –

    – the withholding or sequestering of documents relevant to the torture and

    – witholding info and good-faith co-operation from house and senate committees.

  8. rosalind says:

    (OT: EW, did you see the BYD-E6 car at the Detroit car show? From L.A. Business Journal: China Car Maker To Plug Into L.A.?

    Electric car maker BYD is looking to open its North American headquarters and an auto assembly plant in Los Angeles County, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    i take it this would be non-union shop?

    via LA Biz Observed)

    • emptywheel says:

      It was there but I wasn’t able to attend the presser and the car itself wasn’t all that sexy, IIRC.

      So I confess to being useless as a NAIAS journalist on that count.

    • PJEvans says:

      I wouldn’t want to bet on it, since there are almost certainly enough UAW members of some kind to make sure that there’s a local. (It hasn’t been that many years since GM closed its Van Nuys operations.)

  9. Jeff Kaye says:

    Great reporting, Marcy.

    You’d think Graham would understand why he was even on this committee.

    From the SSCI website (bold emphasis added):

    Created pursuant to S.Res. 400, 94th Congress: to oversee and make continuing studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to submit to the Senate appropriate proposals for legislation and report to the Senate concerning such intelligence activities and programs. In carrying out this purpose, the Select Committee on Intelligence shall make every effort to assure that the appropriate departments and agencies of the United States provide informed and timely intelligence necessary for the executive and legislative branches to make sound decisions affecting the security and vital interests of the Nation. It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

    So, oversight is controversial?

    • emptywheel says:

      Uh, you mean Roberts, the one who spiked the oversight? BC that’s precisely what Graham started in NOvember 2002. That’s teh whole point–Graham started it, Roberts killed it.

    • Leen says:

      “It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

      And not one person or persons have been held accountable for creating, cherry picking and disseminating false pre war intelligence. What was the point of Phase I and Phase II of the SSCI? Niger Documents? Remember those Niger Documents? Those same warmongers have been allowed almost encouraged to set the stage over the last seven years for a military strike on Iran. Hell Micheal Ledeen is (according to Chris Matthews) advising Mitt Romney. Senator (allegedly a war profiteer) Feinstein is heading that committee now. She is more than likely never going to support holding anyone accountable for the “pack of lies” that were endlessly repeated before the invasion of Iraq.

      Our intelligence and Justice systems are seriously broken.

      Lies about blowjobs = impeachment
      Intelligence snowjob = hundreds of thousands dead, injured, millions displaced with not one person held accountable

  10. JasonLeopold says:

    A bit off topic but somewhat related, as you’re all aware, back in December of 05, after the domestic surveillance program was revealed, Graham had accused Dick Cheney and Michael Hayden of lying about the fact that they briefed him about the NSA program when he met with them (and George Tenet) in 01 and 02. He told Nightline in an interview Dec. 15, 2005:

    “The issue was whether we could intercept foreign communications when they transited through U.S. communication sites,” Graham said. “The assumption was that if we did that, we would do it pursuant to the law, the law that regulates the surveillance of national security issues. …

    “There was no suggestion that we were going to begin eavesdropping on United States citizens without following the full law. There was no reference made to the fact that we were going to use that as the subterfuge to begin unwarranted, illegal – and I think unconstitutional – eavesdropping on American citizens.”

    A four-page memo from Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, which was turned over to Congress contained the dates lawmakers were briefed about the surveillance program, briefings that began shortly after President George W. Bush signed a highly classified executive order that removed some legal restrictions against spying on US. citizens.

    The memo contained four dates that alleged Graham – along with Pelosi, and their Republican counterparts, Rep. Porter Goss and Sen. Richard Shelby – were briefed on Oct. 25, 2001, Nov. 14, 2001, April 10, 2002, and July 8, 2002. A cover letter accompanying Negroponte’s letter said the briefings took place at the White House.

    But Graham said he checked those dates against his own records, which revealed no briefings on Oct. 25, 2001 and April 10, 2002. The memo had claimed Graham was the only lawmaker briefed on April 10, 2002. On July 8, 2002, the document said Graham and Shelby were briefed.

    “When I got those dates, I went back to my notebooks and checked and found that on most of the dates there were no meetings held,” Graham said in September 2007. “In fact, in several of them, I wasn’t in Washington when the meetings were supposed to have taken place. So I stand by what I said.”

    One of the disputed dates for a briefing on torture – in April 2002 – fell in the same month as one of the supposed briefings on surveillance. In both cases, Graham said no briefings took place.

  11. alinaustex says:

    Were there any torture media destroyed in the timelines that the OGA did not report to Chairman Graham- is that something Prosecutor Durham would want to look at too ?

    • emptywheel says:

      Graham never got that far, and no one has ever suggested Graham was briefed on the tapes. THe first time they briefed on tapes was February 4 and 5, 2003. Rockefeller was not there, so did not get briefed. Harman objected to teh destruction of the tapes, strongly enough that CIA and WH had a meeting to decide what to do in response. Roberts acceded to the destruction of the tapes, according to the MFR, though you can never be sure that the CIA’s own records are accurate. (We know what Harman did bc she has her own record and we’ve seen teh indication of a meeting w/WH specifying it was about Harman.

  12. MadDog says:

    Tangentially on topic, from those conservatives over at Judicial Watch:

    Judicial Watch Obtains Top Secret Memorandum Detailing Closed Congressional Hearing on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

    Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has received a Memorandum (8 page PDF) from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) marked “Top Secret” that includes a detailed report of a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) closed hearing regarding the subject of enhanced interrogation techniques. The CIA produced the document pursuant to a previous court order in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency, Case: 1:09-cv-01352). The court order stipulates that documents pertaining to congressional briefings for Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress on “enhanced interrogation techniques” must be provided to Judicial Watch by April 15th…

    • emptywheel says:

      Interesting on a few counts:

      1) Note Harman still pushing.
      2) Note Pistole not knowing whether KSM’s interrogation was videotaped.
      3) Jacoby saying that revelation of the techniques didn’t hurt them.
      4) Alexander saying that only one of the Abu Ghraib victims had any intell (not counting the dead guy presumably).
      5) Alexander saying there were 5 more techniques allowed in Afghanistan.

      • MadDog says:

        And my overall impression was the “witnesses” were treating HPSCI like mushrooms – keep ’em in the dark and cover ’em with bullshit.

        I noted Harman was pushing, and so was Eshoo.

        Repug Mac Collins wishes everybody on HPSCI underwent SERE “training” – one might think that he was wishing everybody on HPSCI was “waterboarded”.

        And as to the “twenty questions” game being played, I noticed Hastings asked only about the use of sodium pentothol on detainees with with Army G2 General Alexander saying no.

        Hastings should’ve asked if any drugs were used on detainees.

      • MadDog says:

        And note too that General “Crazy for Christ” Boykin, who worked directly under Cambone at DoD, feigned ignorance about what specific “battlefield interrogation techniques” were used by the Special Ops folks.

        Those are the very same folks he spent his career leading, and his position at the time of the hearing per Wiki was:

        …In June 2003, he was appointed Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Dr. Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence…

        He had to know! And he wasn’t telling!

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Two tidbits on Boykin: he was commander of Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, at the same time Mitchell was there on his last military assignment (which I’m told was for Special Forces). Also, Boykin was a big supporter of CIA psychiatrist Charles Morgan’s research on SERE trainees to study physiological responses to “uncontrollable stress”. The latter is according to Morgan himself, in an article in Special Warfare.

          In an even earlier incarnation, Boykin served as CIA Deputy Director of Special Activities.

  13. cregan says:

    Good work. There should have been oversight of interrogations. That is just common sense. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

    But, Graham’s contention that he knew nothing is just not believable.

    I think everyone in the country knew these kind of interrogations were going on at the time. I don’t mean knew from specific evidence, but it was pretty commonly accepted that it was happening.

    So, either he did get briefed and is trying to escape some responsibility, or he neglected to find out or follow up on what everyone thought was going on. If he understood what was accepted to be going on, and unless he lived in a hermetically sealed jar he did, and he was against it, and didn’t do all he could to get to the bottom of it, what does that say about him?

    Let’s put it this way, if the EW was on the committee, do you think Marcy would have stood around not nailing it down?

  14. orionATL says:

    mad dog @33

    judicialwatch had been after pelosi for a long time, cf, loaded questions about her travel.

    it is predictable that they WILL find, thru their foia request,

    that pelosi “lied” about torture briefings.

    that is their goal.

    it’s predictable that judicialwatch will receive LOTS of willing cia help in obtaining what they are trolling for, to whit,

    some ambiguous document that the right-wing media machine, including wapoop and nytimes can repeat ad infinitum

    in order to distract pelosi and weaken her perceived power. they may even receive
    help from emanuel in doing this.

    weakening pelosi would be very useful to a republican party – and a white house- trying to scotch a house version of medical insurance reform.

  15. burnt says:

    This is only tangentially related (it certainly falls under the purview of the Intelligence Committee). I was over at EFF looking at something or other and downloaded the unclassified version of the report on the Presidential Surveillance Program. It was unsearchable, of course. I made a searchable version “unclassified-report-on-the-pspsearchable.pdf” available at the usual spot

    Go get your own copy. Enjoy.

  16. wizardleft1962 says:

    Does it really matter any more?

    Is America a democracy or a country which values human rights? NO, NOT AT ALL….

    America is the evil country now. America is so done now and people don’t even realize it yet. The worst is yet to come for America in terms of complete collapse as a viable nation…..It’s sad but true……America will only become more extreme and more repressive as laws will continue to mean less and less even as new laws such as the Patriot Act are enforced against American citizens…..

  17. alinaustex says:

    emptywheel @26
    Ok if Chairman Graham was never briefed about the torture tapes -but Chairman Roberts was -and then Roberts said destroying the torture media was alright would not that decision make Roberts somebody the Durham grand jury would want to have come before it ?
    Also how does this tie into Chairman Roberts foot dragging on the second half of the SCCI report on intelligence failures WMD Curveball et al ?
    “also too ” wasn’t this about the same time Porter Goss resigned as Director ?

  18. tjbs says:

    What do we do with the knowledge gained at EW Torture College ?

    The pictures or one video of the gruesome snuff film, where at the end the SUSPECT is no longer responsive, will turn public opinion on a dime.

    Let’s hope this Durham fellow isn’t another Margolis, he holds the keys to the torture chambers.

  19. MadDog says:

    EW, did you by chance read this Salon post yesterday by Mark Benjamin?

    Waterboarding for dummies

    …The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding “session.” Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands to “dam the runoff” and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee’s mouth…

    Some of the details he describes seem new to me. I don’t remember seeing these details like the ussage of hands to “dam the runoff” in Bradbury’s opus, but perhaps it’s just my memory.

  20. orionATL says:

    leen @56

    thanks for this interesting look into history.

    they looked pissed, but did the dem senators ever get the intercepts?

    no.

    did the senators or colin powell prevent bolton from becoming un ambd?

    no.

    nice guys finish last in today’s politics.

    why not refuse to let appointments go forward/take an appropriation hostage until the docs were produced?

    why not fire bolton and dare the white to do domething about it?

    no fight, no win.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      At least some of the intercepts seem to have found their way out — Gellman reports about Cheney’s aide Edelman reading an intercept of Dept of State’s Richard Haass.

      Haass left government and is head of Council on Foreign Relations.
      My recollection is that Bolton’s ambitions to become US Amb to UN were thwarted; he never received Senate approval.

      • dakine01 says:

        Bolton was a recess appointment so did have a period (to lazy to check for how long) when he was the UN Ambassador.

        But you are correct that he was never confirmed and eventually IIRC withdrew his nomination after the recess appointment expired. (Again IIRC, he could have been given a second recess appointment but would not have been paid)

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Wow, thank you!
          So I clicked on over to his Wikipedia page (knowing those are not 100% accurate, but they are fast and easy).

          Lookee here, I don’t think that they actually ever use the word ‘anthrax’ in Bolton’s Wikipedia entry, but in view of EW’s multiple anthrax posts, some of the info on Bolton’s Wikipedia page is very, very weird. (I’ll leave it to others to archive that entry):

          Bolton was instrumental in derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva convened to endorse a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. “U.S. officials, led by Bolton, argued that the plan would have put U.S. national security at risk by allowing spot inspections of suspected U.S. weapons sites, despite the fact that the U.S. claims not to have carried out any research for offensive purposes since 1969.”[24]

          Also in 2002, Bolton is said to have flown to Europe to demand the resignation of Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and to have orchestrated his removal at a special session of the organization.[citation needed] The United Nations’ highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an “unacceptable violation” of principles protecting international civil servants. Bustani had been unanimously re-elected for a four-year term — with strong U.S. support — in May 2000, and in 2001 was praised for his leadership by Colin Powell.[25]

          He also pushed for reduced funding for the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to halt the proliferation of nuclear materials.[26] At the same time, he was involved in the implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, working with a number of countries to intercept the trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and in materials for use in building nuclear weapons.

          …Bolton recalls that his ‘happiest moment at State was personally ‘unsigning’ the Rome Statute,’ which had set up the International Criminal Court….

          Bolton is alleged by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman to have played a role in encouraging the inclusion of statement that British Intelligence had determined Iraq attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address.[39] These statements were claimed by critics of the President to be partly based on documents later found to be forged.[40] Waxman’s allegations have no visible means of support as they **are based on classified documents...

          More gory details at Bolton’s Wikipedia page if anyone wants a quick read, although the info should not be taken at face value.

          ** since when did ‘no visible means of support’ mean that classified docs are meaningless? Sheesh, who wrote that part of the Wikipedia entry, John Yoo? Good grief.

  21. fatster says:

    O/T (Liz): Ken Starr knows boundaries. Who knew?

    Ken Starr: Liz Cheney’s attack on DOJ lawyers ‘out of bounds’

    Link.

    • bobschacht says:

      O/T (Liz): Ken Starr knows boundaries. Who knew?
      Ken Starr: Liz Cheney’s attack on DOJ lawyers ‘out of bounds’ Link.

      I saw that segment too, and IIRC near the beginning there was a quick comment of explanation about Starr’s investigation of Clinton was that he was *opposed to excessive executive power.* Look at what Starr says @ 3:17 into the MSNBC segment: Starr talked about the importance that “power be checked”!
      Andrea Mitchell used the same portion of the Starr interview on her show this morning.

      Light bulbs started to turn on in my fuzzy little brain, leading to this thought: Hey, let’s get Ken Starr appointed as independent special prosecutor of BushCo excesses! This would diffuse Republican criticism– how could they protest? After all, he’s their guy, isn’t he?

      Ken Starr– the Republican opponent of Executive power grabs? Can anyone find additional support for this orientation of his?

      P.S. fatster, a few threads back, bmaz responded to a theory of mine that Bill Cosby was the source of the Lone Ranger/Tonto anecdote. He fingers Mad Magazine as the source.

      Bob in AZ

      • bobschacht says:

        Addendum: Andrea Mitchell used the same portion of the Ken Starr interview (re: executive power must be checked) on her show this morning. I tried to “edit” this @ 60, but it wouldn’t stick.

        Bob in AZ

  22. bobschacht says:

    Weird! I guess my addendum stuck after all. But originally when I hit “save,” the results lacked the addendum. Sometime later, Presto! it was restored. Cyberspace is weird.

    Bob in AZ

  23. JohnLopresti says:

    [email protected], mary4+45: re executive order, memorandum. All I locate at UC SB*s Presidency Project is 13440EO which discusses Geneva treaty and purports to require compliance with humane treatment publication July 20, 2007 long after the ostensible height of the torture regime; plus a November 13, 2001 military order which the Presidency Project categorizes in its generic Bush memos aggregation, which sounds more like a DoD commissioning by c-in-c with respect to various detainments but nothing about standards of treatment. The Presidency Project appears to have nothing germane (*MON*-like) September 17, 2001. Perhaps, whatever the instrument was as discussed @45, it has yet to emerge into the public domain.

  24. bobschacht says:

    rOTL @ 68,
    “* since when did ‘no visible means of support’ mean that classified docs are meaningless? Sheesh, who wrote that part of the Wikipedia entry, John Yoo? Good grief.”

    You can make a Contribution to Society by clicking on the Discussion tab of that wikipedia article, and learning how to edit the article to “fix” it.
    People who sit around and criticize the Wikipedia without doing anything about it are similar to people who sit around and criticize politics without exercising their duty as citizens to get involved.

    Cheers,
    Bob in AZ

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Gack!
      Your point is well taken.
      But I did want to point out that the wording seemed mighty weird to me.

      slinking off, humbled…

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