“High Side” Cables and FOIA Responses

As you’ll no doubt understand over the next week or so, bmaz and I have been comparing the case of David Passaro, the only CIA-related person to be prosecuted for detainee abuse, with what happened in Gul Rahman’s death at the Salt Pit. Passaro, a CIA contractor obviously trained in SERE-based interrogation techniques, was convicted of assaulting an Afghan, Abdul Wali, with his hand, foot, and flashlight, while interrogating him at the Asadabad firebase in Eastern Afghanistan in June 2003.

I’ll have a lot more to say about Passaro’s case in upcoming posts (short story, though, is his defense tested many of John Yoo’s favorite theories and lost). But for now, I wanted to point to two passages in this filing, which requests electronic communications evidence related to Wali’s interrogation and death. One thing it requests are transcripts of satellite phone calls from the Field.

The audio recordings and/or text documentation of the contents of satellite phone calls related to the events which prompted Wali’s surrender; his subsequent intake, detention, and questioning; his death; and all investigations into these events. Counsel for Mr. Passaro has learned that CIA operatives and contractors, members of Special Operations forces, and military intelligence unites, and members of other governmental agencies (OGA) frequently used satellite phones to communicate from this region of Afghanistan, and that the government maintains voice recordings of all satellite phone calls;

Granted, Afghanistan is apt to be more reliant on Sat Phone calls than–say–Thailand or Poland. But this request suggests there might be another set of documentation pertaining to (for example) daily authorizations for torture techniques in April and May 2002.

Then there is Passaro’s lawyer’s suggestion that the government has withheld what is called “high side” message traffic from him.

All message traffic to or from any member of a Special Ops (Special Forces, Delta Force, Navy Seals, etc.) or Military Intelligence unit, or OGA, related to the events which prompted Wali’s surrender; his subsequent intake, detention, and questioning; his death; and all investigations into these events. Counsel for Mr. Passaro has learned that members of these units [redacted] and submitted daily situation reports which detailed the detention and questioning of all detainees. Based on our review of the redacted messages the government submitted November 10, 2004, it appears that these messages–classified as “secret” and known as “low-side” traffic–originated from a member of the CIA. Message traffic to and from members of the units specified in this request were typically sent as “high-side” traffic and were sent independent from any CIA messages;

As I understand it, “high side” and “low side” refer to two different communication networks, Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), respectively (I believe that’s what’s pictured in the image above). Stuff that’s Top Secret or TS/SCI has to go over the JWICS network because it’s more secure. And Passaro was complaining that he only got cables that were classified Secret, which, he suggested, meant the government had not turned over the cables that had been sent over JWICS.

Now, I’m more interested in what this means for public disclosures rather than Passaro’s case. Many of the cables we’ve seen referred to in CIA Vaughn Indices refer to Secret, not Top Secret cables. Since we’re getting just Secret cables, it suggests the possibility that we’re getting just “low side” communications, rather than the most sensitive communications.

The exception to that assertion–the one case where it appears CIA has described a whole bunch of Top Secret cables, actually raises even more concerns. The index of cables back and forth from Thailand to Langley from 2002 appears to show a batch of cables that are almost all Top Secret cables. But recall what Leon Panetta revealed in a footnote last year: that “many” of the cables were actually classified “Secret,” but that he was retroactively calling them “Top Secret.”

Then there’s the last bit, wherein cables originally classified as SECRET apparently have become TOP SECRET.

In his declaration, Panetta notes that some of the documents in the declaration were not marked properly:

Many of the operational communications were originally marked as SECRET in our communications database even though they should have been marked as TOP SECRET, and some of the miscellaneous documents were not properly marked. While we are not altering original electronic copies, this error is being corrected for copies printed for review in this case.

Given that Panetta uses the word “many,” I assume this means more than just the one operational cable from HQ to Field, dated November 30, 2002, that is marked SECRET on the CIA’s list of documents (I believe the other documents marked SECRET are what Panetta treats as “miscellaneous” documents). So, first of all, there’s the funny detail that the CIA has been representing these documents to be TOP SECRET to Judge Hellerstein since at least May 1, yet they’re only now getting around to telling him (now that they’re turning some over for his review) that they were originally actually marked SECRET.

But here’s another funny detail. Similar cables from 2004 (see documents 54 and 55) were also marked SECRET (though some in the same series–particularly those from HQ to Field–were marked Top Secret). Now I have no way of knowing that these cables are exactly analogous (though I suspect they include discussions about whether to torture Hassan Ghul), but they do pertain to torture and detention.

So did they just discover all of these cables from the field should have been marked TOP SECRET from the start? Or did the rules change, once the program was designated–by people in NSC, not CIA–that it should be a special access program? Or is the SECRET designation a more recent phenomenon, one tied to the FOIA?

When I first noted this last year, I was concerned that Panetta was simply trying to raise the bar on releasing these cables–and he does seem to have been doing that. But I’m at least as concerned, now, that what CIA has revealed consists only of the “low side” communication between Thailand and Langley, but perhaps misses a lot of the “high side” communication. At the very least, this means we can’t necessarily look at patterns in what we do see to indicate anything conclusively about Abu Zubaydah’s torture.

One more thing. John Kiriakou has repeatedly made claims about Abu Zubaydah’s treatment based on what he saw in cables. But if even internally, some CIA insiders were missing an entire set of cables, then it might explain some of the contradictory stories out there.

At the very least, these two details suggest where else we might have to look if we wanted a complete picture not only of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment. But also of what kind of day-to-day involvement people like Alberto Gonzales had in that treatment.

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72 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    FWIW, I realize some people who have known this all along are going to find this post rather juvenile, but sometimes it takes a while to see what isn’t there.

    • bobschacht says:

      There may be a few people who have known this all along, but many of us don’t. Indeed, the people making FOIA requests may need to know that they need to specify both high side and low side communications in their requests, as well as voice recordings of phone calls.

      BTW, I’m betting that many of those voice recordings will soon mysteriously disappear, if they haven’t disappeared already. They’d be very revealing, I’m sure!

      Bob in AZ

  2. manys says:

    I have always found it hard to believe that faxes and videotapes (videotapes!) were the only documentation.

    • crossword says:

      They were SECRET — the only media they wanted released.

      The TOP SECRET and compartmentalized information remains undisclosed.

  3. WilliamOckham says:

    At one point, I came to the conclusion that the reclassification of torture documents from Secret to Top Secret started after Abu Graib, but I don’t now remember what I based that on. In fact, some of the stuff that the government tried hardest to protect turned out not to be classified at all (originally).

  4. klynn says:

    Not to go OT, but Marcy, are you going to announce your radio broadcast for today? I do not know all the details.

  5. Rayne says:

    I think it’s important to look at some of the email correspondence we (the public) have seen throughout many of the different scandals and subsequent investigations over the last 8-9 years. Did any of these messages indicate that the intended reader should look at correspondence someplace else?

    In other words, did unencrypted/unclassified and/or “low side” messages contain any hints to the addressee to check for “high side” communications?

    It’s also important to look at holes in communications — like big swaths of emails that aren’t there, aren’t in backup copies. Were these examples of communications which moved to the “high side” out of sight and discovery by the public through Congress, DOJ or the judiciary? Were some of them deliberately removed because they also had a shadow twin in the “high side” network?

  6. JasonLeopold says:

    Marcy, all of your posts on this issue have been fantastic and have moved the story forward. But this post in particular is spectacular, IMO, because it’s like a roadmap to an even bigger story that is percolating. Thank you for writing it. Great, great work.

  7. orionATL says:

    “… mr. passaro’s attorney has learned…”, eh.

    maybe from mr. passaro himself?

    no wonder cia does not want to punish or prosecute misconduct. one such case could unravel the whole sordid cia operation.

    wonder why passaro got charged with anything?

    i can see this might be very interesting to :

    – other attorneys representing snatchees/torureees

    – aclu and others making foi requests.

    – judges who might conclude the cia had deceived the court by withholding info.

  8. Citizen92 says:

    EW –

    We hit upon this topic before in a John Yoo thread. Referencing this comment.

    I had found some SIPRNET sgov.gov emails which appeared to have been released as part of a document dump FOIA.

    Since that time, the links have gone dead. You can still get the web references by using this google search string – http://dspace.wrlc.org and sgov.gov. [Note – put it all between quotes (“..”)]

    You’ll see the entry google returns(boxed below) but unfortunately cannot click over to the underlying pages.

    [PDF] UNCLASSIFIED RELEASED IN FULL UNCLASSIFIED
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    suc::[email protected] Cc: [email protected]/.gov; [email protected]: [email protected]. Subject: establishment of jlf-170 at guantanamo …
    dspace.wrlc.org/doc/bitstream/2041/63479/00240.pdf

    [PDF] .. Dolan, JoAnn
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    From: CWG PM-Coordinator [mailto:[email protected]). Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 12:53 PM. To: (000) Watt, Linda; Litt, David; Blaschke, Brent E …
    dspace.wrlc.org/doc/get/2041/63554/00315.pdf

    Point being, at least for sgov.gov e-mails, they have surfaced publicly before!

      • Citizen92 says:

        I believe that if you are looking for JWICS emails, you should be looking for a formatting that goes:

        [email protected].ic.gov… the ic.gov being the JWICS part

        For example, this document from DOD’s Transcom references both SIPRNET and JWICS e-mail addresses for those who are interested in responding to an contract RFP.

        The SIPRNET is [email protected]
        The JWICS is [email protected]

        I don’t remember the full contents of those documents which I referenced (and can no longer retrieve), so I’m not sure if any xxx.ic.gov addresses were in there.

        (It is not uncommon for military folk and orgs to list the unclass email along with SIPRNET and JWICS addresses, along with a phone # and DSN phone # when passing along their info).

        [I think … that getting onto (eg, getting an account on) JWICS requires approval and facilitation by an office at DoD.]

    • crossword says:

      From: CWG PM-Coordinator [mailto:[email protected]).

      I will not say how I know, I will just say that CWG is the Counterterrorism Working Group, chaired by Cofer Black, and staffed by DoD and State personnel, in the National Security Council circa fall 2002 – summer 2003.

  9. bobschacht says:

    OT-
    I think Eliot Spitzer has found a new gig. He subbed for Dylan Ratigan today on MSNBC, and he was great! Fast on his feet, asked great questions, drew out his interviewees well.

    Bob in AZ

  10. bobschacht says:

    add on to my #14 (edit time expired)–

    on a segment on Republican “2012 tryouts” he actually got the token Democratic and Republican interviewees to agree with each other on a number of points by asking the right kinds of questions.

    Bob in AZ

  11. bobschacht says:

    Someone on a previous thread complained that the MSM was ignoring the Wikileaks video on the 2007 murders in Baghdad.

    It was just on MSNBC during a newsbreak by Monica Novotny about 50 minutes into the Dylan Ratigan show, and I believe I’ve seen it previously on MSNBC.

    Bob in AZ

      • Citizen92 says:

        No problem.

        I’m sure you picked this up, but the memo reads much more as admonishment rather than clarification of process flow.

        The memo suggests that DOJ’s policy of having “a single point of contact” for each DOJ component office’s involvement in the national security interagency process was not being followed.

        The memo also stipulates that ODAG Senior Counsel James McAtamey (who is a career official) was a DOJ official designated to be the traffic cop. And Mr. McAtamey was to receive (for informational purposes) “Any written materiaIs prepared by your component for a PCC or subordinate working group meeting, or written materials produced by a PCC or subordinate working group.”

        Additionally, the memo stipulates that “Any written materials prepared by your component for meetings ofNSC or HSC Principals or Deputies meetings, or for Presidential events, should be provided in draft to ODAG sufficiently in advance of the due date to permit ODAG review of such materials. Materials are to be transmitted to the NSC, HSC, or the White House only by ODAG.”

        No I do recall that the Bush Administration was roundly criticized for having 3,000 acceptable points of contact between DOJ and the White House… where the Clinton Administration I think had 4. So maybe this memo relates to that.

        I also do not know the contents of the 2002 Larry Thompson Memo which appears to be the precursor to this “clarification” memo.

        But it would appear that, when dealing with national security issues (detainees???) not all information was being shared and captured by the office which was designed to police the contacts.

    • Rayne says:

      We know these domains are associated with high and low sides:

      Top Secret (JWICS) level:

      DOJ usdoj.ic.gov
      NSA nsa.ic.gov
      FBI ic.fbi.gov
      JPRA jpra.ic.gov
      DIA dia.ic.gov
      CIA odci.ic.gov

      Secret (SIPRNET) level:

      DOJ usdoj.sgov.gov
      NSA nsa.smil.mil
      Pentagon (higher levels) osd.smil.mil
      SOCOM and JSOC jdi.socom.mil
      DIA dia.smil.mil
      CIA high up odci.sgov.gov

      What they are referred to intra-department may be different, dept. to dept., but none of these functions can say they do not have secret or top secret email systems. And to the best of my knowledge, all of these are ultimately under DOD management.

      Note also that no EOP domain listed for high/low sides; it’s possible this exists, just haven’t looked yet.

      • crossword says:

        NSC staffers/officials use State, DoD or CIA emails from the places they’re detailed from. These are in addition to the ones they’re assigned while on Camp David, White House or Naval Observatory duty.

        But permanent NSC, EOP and OVP personnel use:

        For example, someone like General Jones or Lippert would be:

        [email protected]

        a special assistant to, say, the Vice President’s national security advisor or counsel would be:

        [email protected]

        That’s for unclassified e-mail.
        OMB (omb.eop.gov) and PFIAB/PIAB (pfiab.eop.gov) follow the same conventions.

        For SECRET correspondence, say, by the President’s secretary, or Brennan, it would be:

        [email protected]

        or, for NSC staffers/directors:

        [email protected]


        TOP SECRET
        communications becomes tricky, since these would all be assigned by the White House Communications Office, not DISA.

        Plus, BlackBerries are only for unclassified communications (usually Sprint 8820’s and 8830’s).

        Now — NSA passes these out to certain people. Say, the leader of the free world. In addition to his BlackBerry from the campaign.

        • bmaz says:

          This may be stupid, but is there a specific reason they run Sprint? And what if somebody wants to use an iPhone; they just have to use that only for private stuff and that is that? Which is not unreasonable actually, just wondering. Generally, to rubes like me not in Washington, both Sprint and Blackberry technology are substandard, or at least far below optimal. Actually, as to Sprint, I will put it this way, places where there is solid coverage, their network is very fast and good; it’s just that there are damn few of those places.

          • crossword says:

            Sprint has the biggest contract through the Department of the Navy, which funds the most of the White House when you think about it (White House Military Office is almost all Navy officers, Marines fly him around, the Situation Room senior duty officer is historically a Navy captain).

            Same with the Department of the Army. Now — they can own and bring whatever they want to work. They just can’t bring anything into the Situation Room, some of the SCIFs in the EEOB or some other places.

            Here’s a picture of BlackBerries outside a Cabinet meeting. As you can see, Susan Rice has two or three.

            Having working for a Senate-confirmed official, I will say many have their personal/private cell, a personal BlackBerry or iPhone and whatever is issued. If you’re a special assistant, military assistant, Chief of Staff or executive secretary, you could conceivably be juggling four or five devices. Secretary Clinton’s secretary, for example, carries three Blackberries in addition to her personal device. Same with the Vice President’s military assistant.

            • bmaz says:

              Heh, yeah, I know people that carry multiple devices around; guys look like freaking Marshall Dillon or something with a bunch of holsters, women have it slightly better with purses. Sprint must be much better there than it is here; in many parts of the west it is literally effectively useless.

              • crossword says:

                In DC they call it the Golden Triangle: Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

                Sprint has the lion’s share, with Verizon and T-Mobile splitting the rest between other federal agencies, corporations and the bevy of law firms, lobbyists and consulting firms.

                When I was working for aforementioned official, I was clocking in at three devices and a handful of batteries. The Chief of Staff was in the same boat.

              • PJEvans says:

                There are parts of Los Angeles where Sprint is fine, and others – I’m thinking of one in particular, on a major street and literally half a block from a freeway – that are dead.

        • Citizen92 says:

          You are right to mention WHCA (aka the White House Communications Agency). WHCA is a DoD “activity” which is hosted by DISA (the Defense Information Systems Agency). WHCA is incredibly autonomous in what it is able to do. WHCA operationally reports to WHMO, the White House Military Office.

          WHCA exists to support (broadly) the continuity of government and (more narrowly) the President in his role as Commander In Chief. The President, the Vice President, the senior staffs of both, all military officers and enlisted personnel detailed to the White House (the 18 Acres, Camp David, etc, etc) and the National Security Council receive “WHCA support.”

          All TS networks, connectivity, accounts and domains associated with the aforementioned officials would be handled by WHCA. I suspect WHCA provided David Addington his connectivity. For Senior White House staff, WHCA “complements” the “assets” that they receive from the civilian side of the White House.

          [Some time ago, CREW realized WHCA’s systems may have been used to hide Karl Rove’s emails and they FOIA’d DISA for WHCA’s records. It went to court, CREW won, and they got a lot of records].

  12. Jeff Kaye says:

    Thanks for poking this door open. I agree with Jason’s comment @ 8.

    Wish I could see Marcy on Mike Malloy. I enjoy listening to Malloy, except when he rants about China. Plenty one could say critical of the Chinese government, but when he gets going, even he recognizes he’s sounding like Michael Savage on that topic.

    • klynn says:

      I too ditto Jason and Jeff. Great work.

      It is amazing how you pick up on a small detail that reveals a vital concern to the big picture on torture and possibly other concerns.

      At the very least, these two details suggest where else we might have to look if we wanted a complete picture not only of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment. But also of what kind of day-to-day involvement people like Alberto Gonzales had in that treatment.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Abu Gonzo does not recall any involvement in any torture program.

        I’m amazed at Gonzo’s loyality. BushCo basically left hung out to dry after he left DoJ and he darn had to threaten to write a book before Wingnut welfare found (Created?) him a job as “Minority Outreach Coordanitor”. You’d think he’d write that book for revenge, if nothing else.

        Boxturtle (Contrast this to how well Yoo is doing for himself)

  13. rkilowatt says:

    re-classifying to TopSecret might serve to debunk later ideas that there are other/unknown comm channels…lest the absence of TS traffic suggest such.

  14. orionATL says:

    i apologize for the utter pointlessness of my comment @11.

    some folks can’t make kimchi and think staight at the same time; clearly, i’m one of those.

  15. orionATL says:

    reading this post and comments thru,

    and reflecting on the last several months of tenacious research and posting,

    the image that comes to mind of ew and bmaz is of a team of smart, determined burglars picking the locks, one-by-one, behind which the cia had hidden its trove of torture records.

  16. Jim White says:

    Just as many of the most important activities in the GWOT effort to counter violent extremism [sic] was moved to JSOC from CIA to prevent Congressional oversight or other types of disclosure, this report now makes it look like even the meager successes we have had in getting information about communications has been similarly bypassed. Count me among the people who believe that if we were to get the full measure of “high side” communications on torture, we’d find the heavy hands of Cheney and Addington running the show on an essentially real time, blow-by-blow basis.

    • crossword says:

      we’d find the heavy hands of Cheney and Addington running the show on an essentially real time, blow-by-blow basis.

      Truer words have never been spoken. This is a man — nay, men — who value secrecy over all else.

  17. orionATL says:

    jim white @32

    “… moved… to prevent congressional oversight..”

    well, well,

    if one wanted to make a big leap of a conclusion,

    one could say that, right now,

    we have a government within a government,

    almost completely without accountability, due to “national security concerns”

    and to remarkable technology.

    hmmm,

    seems like we might be edging closer to totalitarianism.

  18. orionATL says:

    rayne @6

    like emails related to the plame litigation?

    like white house emails related to abhramoff?

    like white house emails related to political hiring for doj.

    likewhite house e-mails between wh and the rnc?

    general question:

    were missing white-house e-mails flushed down into the bit-bucket?

    or moved upstairs to the top-secret communications system?

    oh, and the laws re presidential records and the national archives?

    oer

    • Rayne says:

      That was deliberately cryptic. If I were you, I would take no offense if you received no answer. ;-)

      BTW — I recommend that EW’s regulars open Twitter accounts and follow each other in order to stay abreast of news each of us may have access to, and to help re-tweet EW’s posts so that they get wider readership.

  19. orionATL says:

    rayne @43

    thanks. i kind of suspected that, especially from the tenor of the reply- like a secret handshake.

    i thought about adding “if it’s ok to tell me ” to my request,

    but i’m too proud to bow my head just because i’m curious about something.

    i have to say, though, that while fox and nytimes are blathering on, things are beginning to feel more than a little scary for ordinary folk like me.

    the administrative branch had acess to unlimited funding and, hence, superb technology,

    while the congress, especially the senate, works like it did in 1850.

    i don’t feel deeply alarmed, and don’t want to sound alarmist,

    but this is beginning to feel like the nation has sailed fairly suddenly into very dangerous waters.

  20. JasonLeopold says:

    OT, this seems like a major development (though not a surprising one)

    George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times (of London).

    The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

    [Snip]

    Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

    He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.

  21. JasonLeopold says:

    Faster @50: looks like that story has been out for a day or so and there’s an AP version that names the Sudanese detainee. Too bad this didn’t come out years ago. No f-ing shit indeed

  22. JasonLeopold says:

    According to the AP story, the ex-detainee’s attorneys won’t release a copy of Wilkerson’s declaration. They filed in US district court in Seattle. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/dwtbwY

    Wilkerson testified that certain officials, including Rumsfeld, “knew that they had seized and were holding innocent men at Guantanamo Bay, and that they simply refused to release them out of fear of political repercussions,” Hamad’s complaint states.

  23. alinaustex says:

    citizen92 @ 38
    Is it possible that some of the rumours about disgruntled returning home to Austin Tx high ranking Whitehouse Staff will have kept their WHCA copies of the electronic traffic that might be problems for the OVP staffers -specifically Addington, Feith , and Cambone regarding nefarious and illegal activity ( like cooking intel to illegally occupy Irak )-could these rumours possibly be true? Its even possible- its been whispered- that said traffic by former high ranking staffers now authors has made its way to the Durham grand jury- in the context of” media ‘ gwb43 said was lost and not retrievable but was still held by the former very pissed off HIGH RANKING staffer at the bushcheney Whitehouse .
    Could this be true -all the electronic crap that the neocon braintrust at the OVP/DOD /State thought was destroyed now may be floating in the Durham grand jury punch bowl > ??
    I am definately not an IT expert but it really is pretty hard to destroy all copies of digital traffic ain’t it – especially if one or two recipients of said traffice decide to keep their very own copies just in case.
    PS
    Skimpypenguin you got your ears on buddy ? God Speed to any and all keepers of the electronic public trust -may all of ya’lls supposdly suppressed digital traffic see the light of day !

    • Citizen92 says:

      All good questions.

      David Addington had to use government-furnished technology to communicate. It was unavoidable, and would obviously leave a trail. So I’m still trying to figure out whose technology he borrowed. I suspect it would be one where it would be the “last place to look.” Did he insist that the CIA (where he had worked at one time) come in and install a computer in his office? Or WHCA? Don’t know. But there are records out there to be found.

      As for WHCA, I have my doubts as to whether they 100% adhere to the Presidential Records Act. On its face, all communication by White House staffers that is created and travels over or is received by users with WHCA’s pipes should be captured and they should eventually roll into NARA’s files at the end of the Administration. But the population of senior staffers who are suppored by WHCA are relatively small, and those senior staffers also have supported assets from the Office of Administration. WHCA runs the photography processing and archiving aspect of the White House – and I do know those files make it into NARA. But I don’t know how they deal with e-mail.

      As for your question about “did they take their files” well, they shouldn’t have. All government staffers work is government work product – and upon terminating employment, they do not get to take files, or examples of their work, nothing. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

      I recall a story about a fire at David Addington’s Alexandria, VA home — where his biggest lament was the loss of some critical files compiled from his years of service to government. I also recall a “Reliable Source/Washington Post” story about Karl Rove having boxes of files related to his White House service which would help him write his book. Should they have those files?

      Finally, keep in mind WHCA is a military unit, and one that exists solely to support the President. WHCA is overseen by WHMO, the White House Military Office. The head of the White House Military Office is appointed by the President. WHCA is a professional organization, but also can-do. If the (appointed) head of WHMO says that something needs to happen (eg, give Addington his files) then gosh darn it, it will happen. The Bush Administration further muddied this model, by appointing an active duty Admiral to head WHMO… Which mean that, in addition to the political reporting responsibility that a regular WHMO Director who was politically appointed would have … this WHMO Director also had a “chain of command” responsibility to his White House bosses.

      • Rayne says:

        Uh-huh. And all that would have to happen is for the WHMO director to be read into a program, and for certain executive communications to go high side, and we’d never know about evidence for specific cases without some luck and quite possibly some leaks.

        • Citizen92 says:

          All WHMO and WHCA personnel have what is known as a Yankee White clearance.

          The WHMO Director is most certainly read into A LOT of things he may acutally never touch given his operational responsibilities for the institution of the Presidency. Same rationale with all the personnel listed on that Wiki article — by serving the President they could unintentionally end up handling TS/SCI information. So they need to be pre-cleared.

        • crossword says:

          @Rayne and @Citizen92

          Hmmm

          Director, Special Programs Office, WHMO
          Director, Presidential Contingency Programs Office, WHMO

          Sounds like offices worthy of Addington’s time and scrutiny.

          • Citizen92 says:

            Those offices are purely operational and their mission is “contingency” of the institution. Think “insurance policy.”

            Addington certainly would have been read into their mission in his role as Chief of Staff to the Vice President, however, I doubt he’d have been involved at all.

  24. orionATL says:

    pdaly @55

    thanks for the info.

    wow. sounds like a woman i’d like to meet.

    as for the other stuff, i sense a “need to know” situation and i don’t.

    fwiw, i happen to be a strong, long-time admirer of hrc.

    she’s the real radical among major american political figures.

  25. Citizen92 says:

    Well, the Office of Administration (OA) was supposed to have backup copies of 2 million emails, of which a sizeable portion remained “lost” despite having backup servers and facilites.

    And the Secret Service would have had electronic backup copies of visitors to the Vice President’s Naval Observatory… until they agreed that a single handwritten log in the exclusive care of Dick Cheney’s staff would instead suffice.

    So in other words, there was a penchant for making things disappear.

    Many people don’t know about WHCA, its mission, or its constituents. And that always portends to make it a good source for undiscovered material, because no one asked. But the previous Administration did have an eye for details (again, the handwritten log), so I really don’t know.

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