More Torturers Coming Back to CIA as Contractors

Adam Goldman has another in his series of articles fleshing out the details of the torture that John Durham is investigating. Today’s story describes the former FBI-turned CIA guy, “Albert” threatened Rahim al-Nashiri with a drill–with the approval of Albert’s boss, “Mike.” (Though the AP story says this threat would be less than a felony assault, recall that John Yoo specifically forbade CIA to use death threats, so while it might not be assault it would–according even to John Yoo–constitute torture.)

I assume you’ll go read that in its entirety.

While you’re there, note this emerging pattern in Goldman’s reporting on torture: the return of torturers as CIA contractors. He reports that “Albert” left the CIA then returned to train CIA officers as a contractor.

After leaving the CIA, Albert returned at some point as a contractor, training CIA officers at a facility in northern Virginia to handle different scenarios they might face in the field, according to former officials. Albert hasn’t been involved in training CIA employees for at least two years, but a current U.S. official says he continues to work as an intelligence contractor.

A message left with Albert was not returned. It’s not clear when he left the agency and became an intelligence contractor.

Recall that, in a story from a few weeks ago, Goldman reported that Jose Rodriguez (who gave the order to destroy the torture tapes, among other things) regularly lurks around CIA and ODNI as the head of Edge Consulting.

Rodriguez, now an executive with contractor Edge Consulting, a job that regularly gives him access to the national intelligence director’s office and CIA headquarters, still hasn’t received an official retirement party.

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    Both Albert and his CIA supervisor at the time, a second official known as Mike, were reprimanded for their involvement in the incident,

    What’s the problem? They BOTH got sternly worded letters. Thus, they’ve paid their dues to society.

    Boxturtle (You didn’t expect a sternly worded letter AND a dirty look, did you?)

  2. bmaz says:

    Good thing these guys just tortured and killed, cause if they had been overly aggressive on a date with an Algerian hooker, that would be bad and require prosecution and prison.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Nope. I got a classified witness who heard second hand that hooker was servicing AQ terrorists. Off to commissions and gitmo with her!

      Boxturtle (You’re right, it does require prosecution and prison)

  3. MadDog says:

    Even more detail in this AP version of Goldman’s story including this:

    …The details of the reprimands remain classified, but Mike had given Albert permission to use the unauthorized techniques, failing to get approval from headquarters, the former U.S officials said…

  4. Mary says:

    I wonder if there was some mis-dis-information going on at some point. This article identifies the drill and gun guy, a former FBI guy, as “Albert” and ages him as 60, Egyptian descent.

    Jane Mayer’s Dark Side also discusses a pseudonym “Albert” also, a former FBI, now CIA guy – but her Albert is young (the following link cites to some spec on that “Albert” as being CIA rapist Andrew Warren, which may not be true at all, but I’m linking it for the quote from Mayer’s book which I don’t have with me right now)

    However, there’s a story about the al-Libi rendition that’s appeared in several media outlets. This is the version from Jane Mayer’s Dark Side:

    … several days into what the FBI regarded as winning al-Libi’s trust, a young Arabic-speaking CIA officer named “Albert,” who had previously worked for [FBI agent Jack] Cloonan at the FBI as a junior language specialist, burst into the cell where [FBI agent Russell] Fincher was questioning al-Libi and started shouting at the prisoner. “You’re going to Egypt!” he yelled. “And while you’re there, I’m going to find your mother, and fuck her!”

    I wouldn’t call 60-8=52 young, so maybe they are different Alberts, but it seems pretty coincidental.

    This AP story also says that “Mike” tried and failed to get approval for what he was going to have Albert do (apparently some people were arguing that the detainee was plenty compliant already), and it was after failing to get approval that he went ahead anyway.

    The details of the reprimands remain classified, but Mike had given Albert permission to use the unauthorized techniques, failing to get approval from headquarters, the former U.S officials said.

    I like the info on the drill and gun being hard to charge bc they wouldn’t be a felony. I guess, as long as you are committed to NOT using the word torture, they aren’t – otherwise, yeah, the whole torture scheme and the subparts thereof constitute – you know – torture.

    So is “Mike” or possibly Albert tied to the Gul Rehman torture killing? The guy who saved Karzai’s life? And let’s see – would it have been “Mike” who was holding Khalid el-Masri while he was at the Salt Pit – maybe Albert helped transport him there? Or not – but it sure seems like they are so “segmenting” these stories as to keep the picture broken in pieces.

    • emptywheel says:

      Remember that, at the very least, a different entity was in charge of Nashiri’s torture at that point–that’s reflected in the questions asked of some CIA guy as part of teh IG investigation.

      And there were reports that the drill guy was an analyst, not an ops guy.

      I still wonder where Phil Mudd plays into this–since he had confirmation probs bc of reports on involvement in torture.

      And anyone want to be the “unloaded” and “no drill bit” are part of limited hangout?

      • Mary says:

        I’m not sure I know what you mean by different entity – an entity other than CIA?

        I still think it’s odd that both were Alberts. Mayer’s Albert had basically been a language guy (Egyptian background) with FBI, so I think his transit to “ops” might be less than clear – the fact that he was there for the al-Libi send off might not have meant he was actualy an ops guy – he could have been a Deuce kind of guy.

        Is Mike Albert’s superior and also in charge of the Salt Pit, or just Albert’s superior. Was Mike there for Rehman and for el-Masri and others? Any good way to know?

        • emptywheel says:

          A different entity within CIA. So presumably someone besides CTC, though that may not be right.

          One of the reports says that the analyst side got involved, so that’s what I think this refers to: a reference to DI getting involved bc DO was already convinced they had gotten everything. But that’s just a guess.

    • bmaz says:

      Hmmm, I fail to see why it would not be assault with a deadly weapon under 18 USC 113(a)(3). Both a power drill and gun would qualify as a “deadly weapon” and illegal coercion is not a “just cause or excuse” and, as even Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury admitted, this would be a jury question and a jury would convict. The penalty under said provision is fine and or imprisonment up to ten years; that would be a felony.


      • Mary says:

        They are claiming that since no bit was in the drill and the weapon was not loaded they weren’t really deadly weapons. Not, of course, that the detainee (hooded while the drill was run next to his head, so he wouldn’t see if there was a bit or not) would know.

        ANd not, for that matter, as if we know that there really wasn’t a bit in the drill or bullets in the gun.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, except there are decades of law stating that even a toy gun, if reasonably believed to be deadly, fits the charge. This is just patent bullshit. At the VERY least, it would be a jury question to determine; and I think it would be rather easy to convince a jury gun/drill under these circumstances unquestionably was. Again, this is just bullshit.

          • Mary says:

            I agree – and notice that they don’t have any real prosecutors telling them that – it seems to waft in from the ether.

            And Nashiri’s lawyer keeps using “torture” as well, another felony category.

            Hell, they sent Martha Stewart to prison but they can’t make a case out for the guys who gave laundred al-Libi’s torture as a US representation to the world via Colin Powell’s UN speech and who have been directly responsible for a lot of bodies in boxes, ones we couldn’t see photos of for a long time – those guys no one can do anything about – other than give them more and more money for contractor and teaching gigs – all of which they keep benefitting from as long as their torture payoff wars keep going.

        • mattcarmody says:

          In NY and probably other jurisdictions, mere possession of a firearm whether it’s loaded or not or operable or not, raise the level of the crime.

          • Mary says:

            Yep – I’m aware of that and am just passing on what the articles are using as excuses. They are not claiming it would not have been a crime, either, btw, but rather that it would not be a FELONY (v. a misdeamenor). That is important bc they are also buying the argument that the CIA can only be prosecuted for things they do overseas if the crimes they commit rise to the level of being a felony.

          • Mary says:

            oops – sorry – I misread you. I read your comment as raises to the level of a crime – not what you were actually saying (i.e., raises the level of the crime) but bmaz answered you correctly even though I was addressing something you hadn’t seaid. oh well – definitely need to call it quits for now.

      • emptywheel says:

        I sort of think the “no bit no bullet” story is just what the CIA has been saying for years to get out of legal charges. Otherwise, why wouldn’t “Mike” have been able to get it approved?

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, oh I don’t doubt that; I am just saying that legally it is patent bullshit. If a regular citizen or lawyer used that argument to try to convince a prosecutor that there should be no charge on identical facts, they would be locked up for insanity. After being prosecuted and convicted for the assault charge. Even in circuits that don’t per say that the fact a weapon is unloaded is irrelevant if not known and understood by the victim (most all of them), it is still deemed to be a question for the jury. And juries so find, and convict, on that relentlessly.

          • timbo says:

            Uh, what if the defendant(s) ask for a judicial ruling, rather than a jury trial? There surely is danger there, given some of the stacking that’s been going on in the 3rd branch…

  5. Mary says:

    And Mayer’s Albert, btw, would likely also be at the center of some pre-Egyptian mock burial vis a vis al-Libi

    From an article focusing on former FBI agent Jack Cloonan comes this description of the FBI losing the fight over interrogation of al-Libi and how the CIA transported him off:

    And they [FBI interrogators] start building rapport. And he[al-Libi] starts talking about Reid and Moussaoui. They’re getting good stuff, and everyone’s getting the raw 302s [interview summaries] — the agency, the military, the director. But for some reason, the CIA chief of station in Kabul is taking issue with our approach.
    . . .
    What Cloonan’s agents told him happened next blew his mind. “My guys told me that a Toyota Tundra with a box in the back pulls up to the building,” he recalls. “CIA officers come in, start shackling al-Libi up. Right before they duct tape his mouth, he tells our guys, ‘I know this isn’t your fault.’ And as he’s standing there, chained and gagged, this CIA guy [one Albert, per Mayer’s reporting] gets up in his face and tells al-Libi he’s going to fuck his mother. And then off he apparently goes to Cairo, in a box.”

    Cloonan says CIA officials he later spoke with furiously denied al-Libi was actually put in the box. But he seems to consider this at best a matter of hairsplitting, as there was no question as to what kind of situation al-Libi was being delivered to in Egypt.

    emph added

    So some of the boxing of al-Libi might have begun by the CIA while he was in their control – of course, his shipment back to Kappes’ country – Libya – and subsequent unfortunate suicide means no one will know – nor will his story be their every freakin time Obama and Brennan and the WH and CHeney and Hayden wanted to chirrup up about how torture worked, either.

    It’s a screwed up shame that the people who have paid the price for Cheney’s and the CIA’s – for Mike and Albert’s – torture have been anyone and everyone other than the torturers. I guess the good news is that the torturers have no problems with the dead 18 yos and limbless 22 yos they created – as long as the contractor’s slots they are collecting are well paying, a torturer doesn’t really give a rats ass about mothers losing their children – just how they can fit raping mothers into the scenario.

  6. Mary says:

    BTW- why is any of this coming out? Someone ticked off that dirty Sox is all Holder and OBamaco can get themselves motivated over?

    • klynn says:

      Thanks for the post EW.

      BTW- why is any of this coming out?

      That was my first question after reading the post and Goldman’s article.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        I think it’s coming out as a message to Durham, should Durham be considering charges against “Albert” or “Mike”. (And by the way, it wasn’t so long ago that everyone was sure the drill-holder was James Mitchell.)

        Consider what Goldman reports in the article:

        Both Albert and his CIA supervisor at the time, a second official known as Mike, were reprimanded for their involvement in the incident, the former officials said….

        After leaving the CIA, Albert returned at some point as a contractor, training CIA officers at a facility in northern Virginia to handle different scenarios they might face in the field, according to former officials. Albert hasn’t been involved in training CIA employees for at least two years, but a current U.S. official says he continues to work as an intelligence contractor….

        The CIA’s inspector general investigated the incident and referred it to the Bush administration Justice Department. But prosecutors declined in September 2003 to charge Albert with a crime.

        Here’s the message — Durham, if you prosecute, you must realize you open a can of worms. This was vetted by CIA IG and DoJ. If you prosecute now, it opens up consideration as to why nothing more than a reprimand occurred prior to this. Even more, you must consider that CIA management continued to use Albert to train other intelligence agents, calling into question much of the CIA’s personnel decisions. There’s too much here to open up, and furthermore, we’re going to fight it, i.e., the non-sharpened drill bit and the empty gun. Think about if you really want to go there.

        Thanks, EW for writing on this important story.

        • klynn says:

          Sounds a great deal like the ruling by the Ninth today.

          Lots of “think about if you really want to go there,” going around.

  7. bobschacht says:

    How many jots and tittles does Durham have to fill in before he has the goods on these guys? What are they waiting for?

    Are they afraid to prosecute before the elections because it will make Democrats look “weak” again?

    The problem is not lack of evidence, but political will.

    Bob in AZ

  8. Mary says:

    One last comment before taking off – this seems like a good place to dredge this Feb 08 piece, by Wired’s Noah Shachtman, but which I believe he is attributing to R. J. Hillhouse about corporate contractors and torture.

    Hayden Admits: Contractors Lead ‘Enhanced Interrogations’ at CIA Black Sites

    Hillhouse raised a lot of questions that Feinstein didn’t (although she does always have great staff prepared questions that she never seems to do anything with) and they have to do with the *contracted for torture* “green badgers” – contractors who might be individuals (ICs) or just employees of a corporation given the torture contracts (industrial). BTW – remember that OLC opinions can not run to the benefit of non-gov employees – be they ICS or industrials.

    Hillhouse points to this exchange:

    FEINSTEIN: I’d like to ask this question: Who carries out these [enhanced interrogation] techniques? Are they government employees or contractors?

    HAYDEN: At our facilities during this, we have a mix of both government employees and contractors. Everything is done under, as we’ve talked before, ma’am, under my authority and the authority of the agency. But the people at the locations are frequently a mix of both — we call them blue badgers and green badgers.

    and exchanges with Mukasey as well

    Earlier, Senator Feinstein has asked Attorney General Mukasey whether the use of contractors in coercive interrogation techniques (i.e. enhanced interrogation techniques) is legal.

    Whether or not interrogation with enhanced techniques is an
    “inherently governmental activity” is an excellent question and we all know that inherently governmental activities at the CIA have been handed over to green badgers to such an extent that the Agency is no longer able to perform them. Or as D/CIA Hayden put it, “In many instances, the individual best suited for the task may be a contractor.”

    But, as Hillhouse pointed out in that piece, no one bothered to ask whether the greedy bastards green badgers were ICs or Industrial and he details very pointed additional questions that should be asked – going to things like facilities, rendition, etc. A lot of items involving “preliminaries” and the overall handling and treatment of detainees at black site facilities are left unaddressed by OLC opinions for good reasons – and after interrogations were over, who was responsible for continued detentions and in what conditions – – ghosting the detainees from the REd Cross for years?

    • Mary says:

      I mention the industrials bc of some of the bizare SOX charges references.

      I can so see the Bushco-Obamaco DOJ engage in fines/penalties charges against a corporation (name classified) that was engaged in something like the destruction of the tapes as an industrial green badger under a SOX provision, and every thing being done under a sealed agreement, fine paid, dispensation. That may not be any part or element of what is in the offing, but it’s something that made me go from torture to Durham to SOX to this older piece on industrialization of torture.

  9. rosalind says:

    ot: just gag me – Sam Stein regurgitates the b.s. “oh noes, the mean Republicans are preventing Obama from filling judicial openings” meme.

    The Obama administration is aware of the growing alarm over its inability to fill long-standing judicial vacancies…But for all the rhetoric, threats and critiques, even sympathetic observers acknowledge that the president is largely powerless (if not helpless) on the matter…That’s because both he and allies in Congress simply lack the tools to force the Republican Party’s hand.

    yeah, they’re helpless alright. but not in the way huffpo is getting at.

    (emphasis mine)

  10. Garrett says:

    I’m having trouble with the timeline. Some Al-Nashiri dates have always come across as especially obscured.

    I think I’ve always assumed a simple story: He was assessed as compliant, and then they brought in the debriefer with the power drill anyways.

    Is it more like: He was assessed as complaint, got two more weeks of EITs anyways, and then they brought in the debriefer with the power drill?

    At any rate, AP and the IG report seem hard to sync up on the compliant story.

    Presumably in Thailand,

    76. … psychologist/Interrogators began Al-Nashiri’s interrogation using EITs immediately upon his arrival. Al-Nashiri provided lead information on other terrorists during the first day of interrogation. On the twelfth day of interrogation, [Redacted] psychologist/interrogators administered two applications of the waterboard to Al-Nashiri during two separate interrogation sessions. Enhanced interrogation of Al-Nashiri continued through 4 December 2002
    CIA IG Report

    taken to the Poland prison on Dec. 5, 2002, just days after that facility was opened.

    91. [Redacted] interrogation team members, whose purpose it was to interrogate Al-Nashiri and debrief Abu Zubaydah, initially staffed [Redacted – Thailand or Poland?]. The interrogation team continued EITs on Al-Nashiri for two weeks in December 2002 [Redacted – before or after?] they assessed him to be “compliant”. Subsequently, CTC officers at Headquarters [Redacted] sent a [Redacted] senior operations officer (the debriefer) [Redacted] to debrief and access Al-Nashiri.

    92. The debriefer assessed Al-Nashiri as withholding information, at which point [Redacted] reinstated [Redacted] hooding and handcuffing. Sometime between 28 December 2002 and 1 January 2003, [mock assassination with handgun, and power drill]
    CIA IG Report

    According to this story, there seems to be an association of sending him to Poland, and the “complaint” story

    Some CIA officers felt al-Nashiri was “compliant” after two weeks of tough questioning and additional rough treatment was unnecessary. But others thought he was withholding information, and Albert was sent to Poland, according to the special review.

    and this would therefore have happened before December 5.

  11. eCAHNomics says:

    Well, duh. You don’t expect torturers to experience the same unemployment as small people, now do you?

  12. donbacon says:

    Jose Rodriquez is currently Senior Vice President of National Interest Security Company, an IBM company with a thousand employees which does a lot of work for the Department of Homeland Security. NISC acquired Edge Consulting in March 2008.

  13. Garrett says:

    John Yoo’s opinion on mock execution being found as torture: “likely”.

    Certain acts do, however, consistently reappear in these cases or are of such a barbaric nature, that it is likely a court would find that allegations of such treatment would constitute torture: (1) severe beatings using instruments such as iron barks, truncheons, and clubs; (2) threats of imminent death, such as mock executions; (3) threats of removing extremities; (4) burning, especially burning with cigarettes; (5) electric shocks to genitalia or threats to do so; (6) rape or sexual assault, or injury to an individual’s sexual organs, or threatening to do any of these sorts of acts; and (7) forcing the prisoner to watch the torture of others. While we cannot say with certainty that acts falling short of these seven would not constitute torture under Section 2340, we believe that interrogation techniques would have to be similar to these acts in their extreme nature and in the type of harm caused to violate the law.
    Torture Memo, p. 47

    This is four months before the mock execution and the threat of the drilling.

    The passage has got a repeated emphasis on extremities, genitalia, and sexual organs. It comes just after a cite to a still-secret July 22, 2002 Yoo memo. The July 2002 Yoo memo is important to the context of this passage. And July 22, 2002 just so happens to be the day that Binyam Mohamed first had his penis sliced.

  14. tjbs says:

    In the Torture / Murder / Treason game the lines must get fuzzy at times.

    I can see a agent, a Clint Eastwood wanna be, who saw the movie The Deer Slayer (?)and the cool rush watching someone play Russian Roulette. Applying it to ” enhance’ interrogations, let the hooded fellow know, by sounds, that there’s one bullet in the chamber, weather there is or not, and give that baby a spin and click.

    You were lucky that time punk, do you want to talk or are you still feeling lucky. After 3 or 4 times it would loose it’s effectiveness but may-be not the rush the agent got every time he clicked that trigger, these are some sick pups.

    The “intelligence” the Central Intelligence Agency collects using these methods is extremely suspect at best and something akin to fairy tales at worse.