More Cheney Get Out of Jail Free Costs: Mitchell and Jessen’s $5 Million Indemnity Agreement

The AP has a story on Mitchell and Jessen’s torture defense. The lead of the story describes how CIA protected the torturers both by paying all of their defense costs–up to $5 million–as well as paying it directly out of CIA funds.

But there’s an interesting sub-narrative. The piece describes how, in addition to just waterboarding Rahim al-Nashiri twice (even Dick Cheney has implicitly admitted that waterboarding did not work), Mitchell and Jessen also successfully argued against waterboarding Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Mitchell and Jessen successfully argued against waterboarding admitted terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh (RAM’-zee bin-al-SHEEB’) in Poland, the official said.

And then when it came time to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times, Mitchell and Jessen played a somewhat different role.

The role of Mitchell and Jessen in the interrogation of confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a bit murkier.

At least one other interrogator was involved in those sessions, with the company providing support, a former official said. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in Poland in 2003, according to documents and former intelligence officials.

Remember, too, that authority over the torture program within the CIA also shifted around this time, and that after al-Nashiri was deemed compliant originally, analysts came in and used the kind of death threat that even John Yoo said was torture. And of course, over the period, the CIA decided it was probably a good idea not to film their torture sessions.

All of which suggests there was some regret or recognition that the torture program wasn’t such a good idea.

Now, the article also makes something that had been known more obvious than before. As we know, Mitchell and Jessen were ordered to keep torturing Abu Zubaydah beyond such time as they felt he was compliant. That session would violate the terms of the Yoo memo (which said you could only torture if it was necessary to get information). And that session was almost certainly taped (though it may be one of the taped sessions that got damaged before CIA’s Inspector General got to look at the tapes.

Jose Rodriguez was almost certainly in the chain of command that ordered Mitchell and Jessen to keep waterboarding Abu Zubaydah, if not gave the order himself.

And Jose Rodriguez, as soon as he got back into a position of authority, managed to find a way to destroy that tape, in spite of orders from the White House (however unserious) not to destroy the tapes.

But don’t worry, DOJ says. None of this was criminal.

Oh, one more detail: the AP story notes that Mitchell and Jessen testified to the grand jury in August 2009. So note that Mitchell and Jessen did testify, whereas Rodriguez did not.

57 replies
  1. 1der says:

    The pair waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times, according to previously released records and former intelligence officials. Mitchell and Jessen did the bulk of the work, claiming they were the only ones who knew how to apply the techniques properly, the former officials said.

    The session was not supposed to last more than 20 minutes.

    That’s 27 hours. I wonder at which hour they believ(ed) they had reached the point of “diminishing returns.”

    Last month, Durham closed the tapes destruction investigation without filing charges.

    Nothing to see here. Looking forward not backward…from waterboarding to solitary confinement. Obama is not Bush.

  2. jdmckay0 says:

    (…) ordered to keep torturing Abu Zubaydah beyond such time as they felt he was compliant.

    you mean Abu being “compliant”, right? Presumably to Yoo’s standard of “compliance”? So then, it is the tortured… their stamina, or perhaps utter lack of anything relevant to be “tortured out of”, that is the metric determining “compliance”?

    And compliant to an utterly concocted, immoral, made up set of compliance metrics?

    This is really getting out there in the skinny branches, geeeezus…

    With energy going into all these fabrications of reality to justify the unjustifiable, in perpetuity, sure becomes increasingly clearer to me why torture sponsoring nations of (even the recent) past crumble internally from the moral decay (eg. lies).

    Are we officially a ‘naner Republic yet?

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    In the CIA’s defense, that sort of a contract is not that uncommon. Yes, those two got the best I’ve ever seen or heard of, but then the CIA is not in the habit of discussing such things with me.

    Boxturtle (Ummmm…..’naner koolaid!)

  4. MadDog says:

    One of the things I, like many others here, have wondered about is why the switch of the Torture location from Thailand to Poland.

    With this AP story, it’s now again confirmed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured at least 183 times by waterboarding in Poland, as opposed to Thailand where Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri were tortured by waterboarding.

    – Abu Zubaydah captured March 2002.
    Waterboard torture in Thailand.
    Videotaped in Thailand.

    – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed captured September 2002.
    Waterboard torture in Poland.
    No videotaping.

    – Abd al-Nashiri captured November 2002.
    Waterboard torture in Thailand.
    Videotaped in Thailand.

    Note the sequence of capture dates vis-à-vis the waterboarding locations and the videotape locations.

    The questions that I come up with here are:

    Why did KSM get moved to Poland for his waterboard torture while AZ and al-Nashiri got their waterboard torture in Thailand?

    Why did KSM get moved to Poland (versus Thailand which was closer to his capture location of Pakistan) at all?

    Why did all the reported waterboard torture videotaping take place in Thailand and not in Poland?

    Though we don’t know the exact specific dates of the actual waterboarding for these 3 detainees (EW or other kind soul, correct me here if I’m mistaken), the capture dates seem to indicate the waterboarding torture locations in this fashion:

    Thailand with videotaping.
    Poland with no videotaping.
    Thailand with videotaping.

    • harpie says:

      …just ran accross this this morning:

      Guantanamo detainee asks Poland to probe alleged CIA secret prison; Jaclyn Belczyk; The Jurist; 12/16/10

      Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah on Thursday asked Polish prosecutors to investigate claims that he was abused in a secret CIA prison [JURIST news archives] in the country. Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda suspect, alleges that he was transferred to Poland and subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. […]

    • MadDog says:

      …Why did KSM get moved to Poland for his waterboard torture while AZ and al-Nashiri got their waterboard torture in Thailand?

      Why did KSM get moved to Poland (versus Thailand which was closer to his capture location of Pakistan) at all?…

      One of the reasons that I believe KSM was moved to Poland was his suspected involvement in the 9/11 attacks (where AZ and al-Nashiri were not suspected of 9/11 involvement).

      Many of the 9/11 attackers were from the Hamburg Cell in Germany. And Germany shares a border with Poland.

      It’s my suspicion that one of the primary reasons for KSM’s torture location of Poland was its nearness to Germany where it was likely that both US and European intelligence agencies (most particularly Germany’s, but also the UK’s) were pouring vast amounts of intelligence resources into uncovering the who and how of the 9/11 plot.

      It would seem reasonable that information/assumptions/questions these intelligence agencies uncovered involving the 9/11 plot would be funneled realtime into the ongoing KSM interrogation and torture activities.

      Makes sense to me, but what do I know. *g*

    • skdadl says:

      Though we don’t know the exact specific dates of the actual waterboarding for these 3 detainees (EW or other kind soul, correct me here if I’m mistaken), the capture dates seem to indicate the waterboarding torture locations in this fashion:

      I sit to be corrected, but I thought we did know the dates of the waterboarding, and they don’t follow the capture dates:

      AZ: July-Aug 2002
      al-Nashiri: Nov-Dec 2002
      KSM: March 2003

      I’m just doing that from memory, but I think that’s close. (I’m also not discounting likelihood that all were tortured earlier, if in other ways.)

      So whenever KSM was captured, his waterboarding appears more tightly connected to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

    • patrickhenrypress says:

      IMHO, it implies more aggressive waterboarding and/or that other forms of torture were used, the effects of which would be visible or the infliction of which was performed concurrent or nearly concurrent with the waterboarding.

      It’s sickening what the right-wing has turned America into. All for corporations. All for profit (with the added bonus of CIA torture to please the sadists in office).

  5. Frank33 says:

    The company has been embroiled in at least two high-profile Justice Department investigations, tapping the CIA to pay its legal bills. Neither Jamie Gorelick, who originally represented the company, nor Henry Schuelke, the current lawyer, returned messages seeking comment.

    Torturers ‘R Us hired Jamie Gorelick. Jamie has been busy bribing politician’s to defend British Petroleum pollution of the Gulf of Mexico. Previously Jamie profited greatly from mortgage fraud. The Torture and War is being financed by Wall Street and the Financial Fraud Establishment. Jamie Gorelick is rewarded for helping torturers. They love her in Georgetown.

    Although Gorelick had no background in finance, she joined Fannie Mae in 1997 as vice chair and departed in 2003. For her trouble, Gorelick collected a staggering $26.4 million in total compensation, including bonuses. Federal investigators (PDF) would later say that “Fannie Mae’s management directed employees to manipulate accounting and earnings to trigger maximum bonuses for senior executives from 1998 to 2003.”

    • Mary says:

      And Jamie has been sales-pitching for years without anyone ever questioning her motivations (which apparently are spelled with an $)

      This was kind of a hoot from her and it’s too bad her clients won’t be looking at a case where someone can quote her back to the jury

      Prominent in her “new agenda” for the justice dept –

      “Take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Every president promises to ensure that the government adheres to the law and the Constitution. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has historically been — and needs to be — the voice for the rule of law in the president’s deliberations, providing an honest appraisal of applicable law, even if that advice will constrain the administration’s pursuit of desired policies. This mandate applies with special force where the office’s advice is unlikely to be subject to review by the courts. Where an opinion is so widely ridiculed that the department has to withdraw it, as was the case with the first “torture memo,” confidence in the department’s fealty to the law is undermined

      Whatever. As an institution, it’s gotten to the point where DOJ does more harm than good. Any institution has negative aspects, but this one has institutionalized torture and politically purchased prosecutors in a way that’s beyond embarassing, but worse still, it’s been affirmatively used as a sales and marketing department for war.

      The ultimate lawlessness and a Dept of Justice whose focused goal has been to establish that state of lawlessness and protect and empower the lawless. I’m not sure that there’s a countervailing offset that could balance out that wrong.

  6. harpie says:

    well, I always do aplogize to friends and family about it…but that doesn’t mean I’m sorry enough to actually try and do anything about it! ;-)

  7. Mary says:

    All of which suggests there was some regret or recognition that the torture program wasn’t such a good idea.

    I think you’re way too kind EW. I don’t believe there is one iota of regret and I don’t think these guys have any, make that ANY, ability or inclination to ever differentiate between their ideas and good ideas.

    But I just can’t imagine why in the world the CIA would be coughing up protection money for them, I mean, weren’t we told over and over as the sales pitch for the felonious surveillance programs that, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about” /s

    BTW – torturers get thumbs up, but the birther gets 6 mos in military prison. I gotta say – I almost feel for him. Torture and assassinate and strip and humiliate helpless, disoriented, ill and often mentally disturbed people; disappear children; violate the National Security Act to sales pitch a war that leaves 2 million refugees – do all that and you get medals and promotions and a warm, fuzzy circle of reinforcers who call you a patriot instead of a monster.

    But by God, act like an idiot over where Obama was born and you’re freakin going to jail! I mean, it’s not like we can have a breakdown in military discipline, right?

    Sad times – watching a whole nation fail on so many different fronts at once. Even sadder knowing that for most, a leader is all it would have taken to turn the tide.

  8. harpie says:

    From: Council of Europe, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights report: “Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states” 6/7/07

    127. We received confirmations – each name from more than one source – of eight names of HVDs who were held in Poland between 2003 and 2005 [85]. Specifically, our sources in the CIA named Poland as the “black site” where both Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) were held and questioned using “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The information known about these interrogations has formed the basis of heated debate in the United States and the wider international community, leading, in Zubaydah’s case [86], to high-level political and legislative manoeuvres and, in KSM’s case, to the admission of some troubling judicial precedents [87].
    183. My first observation regarding the dates of these flights is that several of them conform closely to the dates on which particular “High-Value Detainees” (HVDs) were transferred to CIA “black sites,” particularly in outward movements from Kabul, Afghanistan. The most conspicuous example pertains to the so-called “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM), who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on 1 March 2003 [153]. Our insider sources have told that KSM was transferred to a secret CIA facility “within days” of his arrest; and from analysis of materials supporting the 9/11 Commission Report [154], we know that the process of interrogating him commenced shortly afterwards [155], and continued throughout 2003. It is noteworthy that the well-known rendition plane N379P undertook a clandestine flight from Kabul to Szymany on 7 March 2003, less than one week after KSM’s arrest. Whilst it is not possible at this stage to state the fact definitively, it is likely that the transfer of KSM and several other HVDs into Poland throughout 2003 took place on the flights uncovered in this report.

    • MadDog says:

      …Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM), who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on 1 March 2003…

      I stand, or like skdadl at 12 above, sit corrected. I was reading the wrong date from KSM’s Wiki entry about his capture. This:

      …On September 11, 2002, members of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed to have killed or captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during a raid in Karachi that resulted in Binalshibh’s capture. Some people have reported that Mohammed escaped, but that his family was captured…

      Instead of this:

      …On March 1, 2003, the ISI reported that they had captured him in a raid in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a joint raid with the CIA’s Special Activities Division paramilitary operatives…

      Doh! *g*

  9. DeadLast says:

    Mitchell and Jessen & Bybee — The Mormon Assassins

    Being a Mormon, I am disgusted by these guys as well as the fact that the Church itself doesn’t make a sound as to the evil lurking in their souls. It just pisses me off, that’s all. And I think the Mormon connection should be acknowledged, because secretive organizations breed real conspiracies. The Book of Mormon – regardless what anyone thinks of it – requires ALL Mormons (even these torturers) to steer clear of such ‘Secret Combinations.’ May they rot in hell.

    • MadDog says:

      Lest you not forget one of the primary evildoers who is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, former “Deputy” White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan.

      I put “Deputy” in quotes because no one in their right mind would consider Alberto “Fredo” Gonzales as being in the driver’s seat during his tenure as White House Counsel.

      Timothy Flanigan and David Addington were the go-to guys driving the Constitution off the cliff.

  10. textynn says:

    Well, it’s official, you can purchase the privilege to break the law and go on crime sprees. Exactly ,the same way pedophiles can purchase children to abuse.

  11. Mary says:

    OT – Can anyone ungarble the story about the CIA station chief in Pakistan for me?

    The Huffpo story is confusing.

    According to it – the CIA has pulled their station chief bc terrorists have suddenly threatened to kill him. OTOH, they also say that he was already “in transit” out of the country for a little different reason, i.e., bc of “a Pakistani lawsuit earlier this month accused him of killing civilians in missile strikes”

    A lawsuit is filed, he high tails it out of dodge, and THEN they say he’s being pulled bc terrorists threatened to kill him? They then say that the problem is that the lawsuit outed him “The lawsuit blew the American spy’s cover, leading to threats against him and forcing the U.S. to call him home”

    uh huh

    Except, the same story also says “The lawsuit listed a name for the station chief, but The Associated Press has learned the name is not correct”
    So how did the lawsuit, suing the wrong guy, blow his cover?

    According to Obamaco’s CIA spox, lawsuits are a dangerous thing – or something like that. “Our station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe”

    I wonder what they encouter when they are working to torture out disinformation to use to support a global catastrophe that makes us less safe? Those pikers in Pakistan who are having their homes and children bombed need to quit whining and realize that the CIA are the guys who are really encountering the major risks – you know, like lawsuits that make them change residence via a luxury flight.

    Anyway – after saying the name in the lawsuit is wrong, they go on a lot about it.

    This part was an interesting grassroots response:

    Demonstrators in the heart of the capital have carried placards bearing the officer’s name as listed in the lawsuit and urging him to leave the country.

    Good thing no one is publishing the name of the guy really behind the bombings. I guess the real reason no one can get a copy of Obama’s birth certificate is that his identity as the guy behind the CIA bombings has made his birth certificate classified. /s

    Also – wth is this crap? “The station chief in Islamabad operates as a secret general in the U.S. war against terrorism”

    A secret general? You mean – like an unlawful enemy combatant? What – it makes it a “military” strike if you tell Ted the Pakibomber that he gets to be a general, but it’s a secret?

      • Mary says:

        Although it’s meant as a friendly plant and to nudge Pakistan, the India story is pretty interesting.

        And so far, it shows that a Pakistani man whose son and brother were blown up by the CIA and who files a Freedom of Information Request in Pakistan for his lawsuit fares a lot better than a US Missionary whose plane, with himself, his wife, his child and his infant is dhot down at the CIA’s direction and whose wife and infant son are killed. Gotta love how Justice works in these United States.

        I also like the way the story you link goes on about the “leak” being from disaffected ISI without really focusing on the fact that there’s no dispute that the plaintiff, who filed an FIR, really did lose his son and brother to a drone attack. Gosh, who could release info on who killed his family except some “disaffected” intel guys? I mean, golly, what government would actually provide its own citizens with information about a foreign government bombing their family?

        Following the FIR, the Pakistani litigant appealed to the authorities “not to let Banks escape from Pakistan,” and said “he should be arrested and executed in this country.” He also sought a $500 million compensation.

        This part was interesting, too and hasn’t had much press here:

        The incident comes months after a section of the Pakistani media started publishing photographs and addresses of houses rented by American diplomats in Pakistan, causing immense consternation in Washington at a time U.S is clearly in the crosshairs of terrorists, as much as the latter are in the sights of predator attacks.

        The fact that Obamaco never seems to have seen anything like this coming is somewhere between sad and scarey. He’s pretty clearly sold on the idea he can play “War in Pakistan” like it’s a videogame and like the civilians he’s killed are just practice rounds, getting him ready for the real game.

        And thrown in for the Gods of Irony:

        The sense in Washington is the government in Islamabad is increasingly losing control of the ISI,

        That’s pretty much what the CIA relied on when it started it’s Pinochet experiment in Pakistan, isn’t it? That, like in the US, the intel services in Pakistan are free from governance and the rule of law? I mean, it’s what they’ve had them argue in the disappeared persons cases going before the Pak courts – that no law or government affects what the ISI does.

        I guess Obamaco lost the “Butt, bitten in the” file folder.

        Read more: ISI blows cover of CIA man in Islamabad – The Times of India

        • PJEvans says:

          The fact that Obamaco never seems to have seen anything like this coming is somewhere between sad and scarey. He’s pretty clearly sold on the idea he can play “War in Pakistan” like it’s a videogame and like the civilians he’s killed are just practice rounds, getting him ready for the real game.

          I wonder what kind of information he’s actually getting, inside his protected-at-all-times bubble. I wonder if his advisers ever tell him the unvarnished truth, or if all he gets is the truthiness of the stuff they give the media.
          Either way, he should have the guts to demand the truth and not the PR releases, and he should recognize that we aren’t going to win any wars over there.

      • Mary says:

        U wanna collaborate on screenplay? *g*

        I’m thinking you have to throw some Arenic & Old Lace and some Road to Omaha in, but then we’re good to go.

  12. tjbs says:

    I’m here.

    Did I mention the three in one statement” Torture / Murder / Treason “?

    Because someone should bring it up among polite company.

  13. tjbs says:

    To the moral amorphous fool who occupies the White House who blatantly supports the torture of our brothers and sisters, for the good of the greedy.

    i know you missed the mortal lesson about sins of commission, like the scum supreme Court Traitors who endorsed Bush vs. Constitution, as opposed to the sins of omission which buries you in being down with the sub humans we employ to degrading those who are different.

    Mr. President you have passed the fork in the road which you could have taken the high road as opposed to settling for the low road with the torture crowd.

    when history turns on a dime , Mr. president you will play the part of the fool. As a matter of FACT you already have.

    good Day Sir.

  14. fatster says:

    WikiLeaks cables lay bare US hostility to international criminal court
    US embassy dispatches reveal American preoccupation with discerning court’s views on Iraq


        • skdadl says:

          Well, yes and no. It is very useful to read the actual condescending prose, I find. It hurts more if you’re one of the aliens. You get a more solid idea of what “the best and the brightest” are really like. That is useful. And the article following, which you didn’t respond to, about a group of cables on the ECHR, is even more interesting. That will have repercussions.

          • fatster says:

            Reminds me of reaction to the Pentagon Papers, which contained lots of new info, but also much that corroborated what independent investigators had been able to piece together but which the “straight press” (or M$M today) wouldn’t touch. Hence, release of the Pentagon Papers stunned middle America. Here’s an interesting Democracy Now! segment on the relevance of the leaked cables (among other things).

  15. rosalind says:

    ot: interesting to watch how this case proceeds – “Google refuses Connecticut attorney general’s request for data”

    Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general and U.S. senator-elect, sent a letter May 27 to the Internet giant demanding detailed records on what information was captured by the roving camera-equipped vehicles that take photos for the mapping service and how that information was used.

    Last week Blumenthal issued a civil investigative demand for data collected by Google’s vehicles. Friday was the deadline to comply with the demand.

  16. fatster says:

    Here’s another.

    US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition, WikiLeaks cables show
    Leaked dispatches reveal diplomats’ disdain for Council of Europe’s stance against extraditions to US and secret renditions


    • skdadl says:

      Love that one too — that’s a most important one. Many of your diplomats seemed fixed on accusing other countries of having inferiority complexes. Just sayin’.

  17. rosalind says:

    as things are slow, another OT: the Black List is put together every year ranking H’wood production insiders’ favorite unproduced scripts. This year’s winner: “College Republicans”, a Karl Rove origin story. Shia LaBeouf is currently attached to play Lee Atwater. My favorite line in the latimes write-up:

    Jones’ script also reads as both a serious exploration of electoral politics in the manner of “The Candidate” and a lighter-hearted buddy comedy, and a finished film could well have to settle on one of those two approaches.

    may the film be consigned to development hell, and never see the light of day…

  18. Mary says:

    Thanks for the link Jason. I can’t get many Guardian links to work these days though.

    I think the weirdest part is that sideways reference to the Islamabad Station Chief serving as a “secret general.” That makes no sense – what, is that so he doesn’t have to brief/report to Congress bc it’s a “military” mission instead of an intel covert operation? Is that Barry’s idea of accountability and transparency? Or is it just looose language in the story?

  19. Mary says:

    I just noticed this – been swamped at work – but last week the Lahore High Court reviewed a petition in Pakistan to ban access to Wikileaks in Pakistan.

    Unlike Obama’s take on the need to censor government employees here in the US from accessing the site – the Pakistani court said that their consitution guaranteed free access to information; that the court got to decide if the leaks were damaging to the nation and they weren’t, and that only a few people – however important that few – were embarassed by the leaks

    I don’t anyone anticipated that Obama’s “change” would be to expand the Bush surveillance program to make it an Obama surveillance/censorship program.

  20. YYSyd says:

    A question. I was under the impression that an indemnity against civil actions and an indemnity against criminal actions are quite different in the way that implicates those who indemnify. In fact, wouldn’t it constitute criminal conspiracy, if the torture were criminal acts (and not a tort…sorry about a bad pun which I couldn’t resist). Do you even need to establish the quality of the actual or potential crime to go after those that indemnify against criminal acts?

  21. fatster says:

    Booze, drugs and hookers: Hundreds of offenses by Afghan contractors uncovered

    “Documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act describe previously undisclosed offenses committed by more than 200 contract employees in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries between 2004 and 2008. They were working under a broad State Department security services contract shared by DynCorp of Falls Church, Va., Triple Canopy of Reston, Va., and the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide — Xe Services of Moyock, N.C.

    “Most of the infractions, which include excessive drinking, drug use, sexual misconduct, and mishandling weapons, were violations of corporate and U.S. policies that probably went unnoticed by ordinary Afghans and Iraqis. But other offenses played out in public, undermining U.S. efforts in both countries and raising questions about how carefully job candidates are screened.”


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