Operation Stall

McClatchy has now posted an update to the tale of the CIA-SSCI spat.

It appears the following happened: Sometime around August, SSCI staffers working on a database at CIA discovered the internal CIA report, started under Leon Panetta, that corroborated the SSCI report. It also contradicted CIA’s official response to the SSCI Report.

Several months after the CIA submitted its official response to the committee report, aides discovered in the database of top-secret documents at CIA headquarters a draft of an internal review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the materials released to the panel, said the knowledgeable person.

So having discovered even the CIA disagreed with the CIA’s response, the SSCI staffers took a copy with them.

They determined that it showed that the CIA leadership disputed report findings which they knew were corroborated by the so-called Panetta review, said the knowledgeable person.

The aides printed the material, walked out of CIA headquarters with it and took it to Capitol Hill, said the knowledgeable person.

Mark Udall raised the report in a December hearing. In January, CIA accused SSCI of absconding with the document.

After the CIA confronted the panel in January about the removal of the material last fall, panel staff concluded that the agency had monitored computers that they’d been given to use in a high-security research room at the CIA campus in Langley, Va., a McClatchy investigation found.

In response, the CIA asked DOJ to start an investigation.

Then there’s this weird question about the document. I’m not sure whether the issue is how the document first got included in the database at CIA, or whether it’s how it migrated to SSCI.

White House officials have held at least one closed-door meeting with committee members about the monitoring and the removal of the documents, said the first knowledgeable person.

The White House officials were trying to determine how the materials that were taken from CIA headquarters found their way into a data base into which millions of pages of top-secret reports, emails and other documents were made available to panel staff after being vetted by CIA officials and contractors, said the knowledgeable person.

My favorite part of this passage, though, is that contractors are helping choose with documents CIA’s overseers are allowed to see.

Because contractors should surely have more visibility into what the CIA does than CIA’s overseers, right?

All of which is to say the SSCI busted the CIA for lying in their official response to the Committee. And as a result, CIA decided to start accusing the Committee of breaking the law. And now everyone is being called into the Principal’s office for spankings.

This reminds me of what happened when Gitmo defense lawyers tried to independently identify the identities of their clients torturers. The lawyers got too close to the torturers, which set off a process that ultimately led to John Kiriakou, as the sacrificial lamb, going to jail.

But it seems that this is part of a larger CIA effort to stall. As McClatchy notes, CIA took 3 extra months to provide their initial response to SSCI. Then this erupted 2 months later. It has now been almost 3 months since Udall first revealed the existence of the Panetta report. Which brings us just 8 months away from an election in which the Democrats stand a good chance of losing the Senate, and with it, the majority on the Committee that might vote to declassify the report in defiance of CIA’s wishes. Which may be why Saxby Chambliss is fanning the CiA’s flames for them.

“I have no comment. You should talk to those folks that are giving away classified information and get their opinion,” Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said when asked about the alleged intrusions.

Stall, stall, stall. It’s what CIA did with the OPR report, it’s what they did with the torture tape investigation, and now this.

CIA may well suck at doing their job — getting intelligence that is useful to the country. But they sure are experts at outlasting any oversight onto their real activities.

27 replies
  1. Jeff Kaye says:

    CIA may well suck at doing their job — getting intelligence that is useful to the country.

    No, that is not their job. That is their cover story, and has been for 67 years. The Pike Committee (whose staffers were as great as the SSCI staffers — who deserve a medal, by the way, for exposing the CIA’s subterfuge) revealed that the intelligence arm of the CIA was a joke. That’s why their report was suppressed.

    Don’t believe me. Listen to what 25 year CIA veteran Ralph McGeehee wrote in his book on his time in the Agency. (He served in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and at Langley, 1952-1977. While retired for years, his analysis remains contemporary. McGeehee was also a recipient of the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal for “exceptional achievement.” )

    the CIA is the covert action arm of the Presidency. Most of its money, manpower, and energy go into covert operations that, as we have seen over the years, include backing dictators and overthrowing democratically elected governments. The CIA is not an intelligence agency. In fact, it acts largely as an anti-intelligence agency, producing only that information wanted by policymakers to support their plans and suppressing information that does not support those plans. As the covert action arm of the President, the CIA uses disinformation, much of it aimed at the U.S. public, to mold opinion. It employs the gamut of disinformation techniques from forging documents to planting and discovering “communist” weapons caches. But the major weapon in its arsenal of disinformation is the “intelligence” it feeds to policymakers. Instead of gathering genuine intelligence that could serve as the basis for reasonable policies, the CIA often ends up distorting reality, creating out of whole cloth “intelligence” to justify policies that have already been decided upon. Policymakers then leak this “intelligence” to the media to deceive us all and gain our support…

    Telling people that the CIA’s job is intelligence is to perpetuate (not consciously, I’m sure) a fairy tale.

  2. allan says:

    “And now everyone is being called into the Principal’s office for spankings.”

    Funny, except that some staffers may have their professional lives destroyed
    and face bankruptcy because of their legal bills.

  3. TomVet says:

    How does this

    and other documents were made available to panel staff after being vetted by CIA officials and contractors, said the knowledgeable person.

    square with the Smith ruling of “no expectation of privacy in data voluntarily given to a third party”?

    These folks are like children playing one parent off against the other, always hoping to get a decision favorable to themselves.

  4. Peterr says:

    This was the part of the McClatchy story that leaped out at me:

    “Even if the agency is technically correct on the legalities, it’s a real asinine thing to pick a fight with your oversight committee like this,” said a U.S. official who was among those who spoke to McClatchy. “You’ve got to be asking yourself why the agency would be willing to take such a risk. The documents must be so damned loaded.”

    That’s certainly what I was asking myself. Staffers for one of the most secretive committees just don’t do something like this without extreme reasons, and picking a huge fight with an oversight committee over something minor is just plain stupid. Within the culture of DC, the opening and closing sentences here are both absolutely 100% spot-on.

    And the end of the piece was entirely predictable (emphasis added):

    “The CIA has gone to just about any lengths you can imagine to make sure that the detention and interrogation report won’t be released,” said Sen. Mark Heinrich, D-N.M., a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has pushed hard for the release of the report.

    “As furious as I am about these allegations, I want to keep focused on getting that report out to the people so that they can read the truth and make up their own minds as to who made those decisions and why,” he said.

    The committee has the legal power to decide through a simple majority vote to release whatever portions of the study it deems should be made public. If the executive branch continues to resist the release of the information, the committee’s action must then be approved by the full Senate.

    Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declined to comment while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill except to confirm that CIA Inspector General David Buckley was looking into whether the agency had monitored her staff’s computers.

    There’s the key to your stall, Marcy.

    The CIA is happy to distract, dissemble, and delay, and as long as DiFi refuses to let the committee vote to push the report into public view, this will continue.

  5. Betty says:

    And isn’t there a majority leader who has some sway over this matter? This is just crazy. Why should DiFi have this kind of power, or does it go beyond her to protecting the White House as well?

  6. Peterr says:

    @bevin: Don’t conflate the two, please. DiFi has the authority to let this vote happen, and there’s not a damn thing that Obama can do about it. See Article I.

    The fact that she is willing to carry water for Obama and the CIA is her choice. She’s not a pawn in this matter, though she appears happy to behave like one. But again, that’s her choice.

  7. Frank33 says:

    There is a new personal attack against Emptywheel by the Ratfucker known as Spandan C of The People’s View. Spandan C, slanders Marcy Wheeler by name, as being “Anti-American”.

    The tweeter account emptywheel belongs to Marcy Wheeler, who is the Senior policy analyst for Greenwald’s new magazine.

    It is already happening. Instead of condemning Russia’s aggression, Snowden’s chief defenders (and his chief benefactors) are already taking Russia’s side, gleefully celebrating the Russian actions as indicative of waning American influence.

    The reason for this is simple. The people masquerading as the high priests of the anti-war, dogmatic Left aren’t liberals or leftists at all. What they are is anti-American. They celebrate anything they view as embarrassing or undermining to American influence and American power. Snowden’s revelations and Russian actions aren’t contradictory in their value system, since the only thing they value is the undermining of the United States.

    It is not just about a “stall”. It is also destroying reputations and manipulating discussions with lies and black propaganda. That is OPERATION JTRIG. And there is hardly anyone more clumsy and inept than JTRIG’s funny clown, Spandan C.

    But Spandan’s single virtue is persistence, as he has been catapulting neo-con propaganda against antiwar activists for years. Spandan is too young to have any knowledge of the Joe McCarthy and McCarthy’s attacks against American citizens. But Spandan uses the same “anti-american” accusation that Joe McCarthy used very successfully. Spandan is the true traitor.

    And the irony is clownish since Spandan puts the tag “Professional Left” on his vicious Post. That is a White House insult that was first used against Jane Hamsher.

  8. orionATL says:

    headlines for all versions of this story should read simply:


    that seems to be what is at the heart of this conflict, nothing more – the cia lied to congress again.

    all the rest is an effort by brennan and gang to distract from that central act of wilfully deceiving congress.

    by report, staffers of the senate committee (ssci) found an internal cia report that criticized the torture “program” in the same scathing way that the ssci report would later do.

    in the meantime, the cia’s officials have been appearing before congress and in public leveling objections about the report at the congress which implying the congressional report was unfairly harsh.

    so brennan and the rest of the cia gang sought to confuse dopey congresscritters and mitigate or defuse the report. but ssci staff found that intetnal cia report that agreed in critical tone with the ssci report.

    at that point brennan and the gang were up for lying to congress. the rest is all a cia psyops to change focus from the report to ssci behavior.

    but why lie to congress in the first place?

    why not accept the legitimate criticism and move on?

    now there’s the question that needs answering.

  9. ArizonaBumblebee says:

    We are close to learning who really runs the executive branch of the federal government. For the past five years I have watched in amazement as a young, idealistic senator from Illinois has gradually morphed into a cheap imitation of Dick Cheney. Has the President become the captive of his national security establishment? Why does he continually take the side of the NSA and CIA whenever questions are raised about surveillance, torture, or the strategies employed in the so-called War on Terror? If I’m off base, the President can do all of us a favor and resolve the current imbroglio over the torture report by authorizing its release and firing his CIA Director.

    On a related matter, I want to thank Marcy Wheeler for her work in creating this site. Exposing the guttersnipes living in the fascist sewer is not for the fainthearted, and she has demonstrated on numerous occasions her steadfast determination not to bow down to the dark forces seeking to undermine and destroy our constitutional republic.

    • Bill Michtom says:

      “a young, idealistic senator from Illinois has gradually morphed into a cheap imitation of Dick Cheney.”

      I didn’t follow O’s early career enough to have an opinion on his idealism, but “gradually”?

      He voted for the FISA Amendments Act during the 2008 campaign, giving immunity to the telecommunications industry for committing felony after felony on behalf of the national security state.

  10. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    The report is proof of war crimes.

    Once the evidence is public, then what?

    Can the US and partners ignore war crimes? The US might but the partners might not. Australia, Canada, NZ and the UK are signatories.


    And there are already calls to prosecute: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/25/could-john-howard-be-citizen-arrested-for-his-role-in-the-iraq-war



    This report IS Pandora’s Box. And all involved know it.

    And that is why it must come out.

  11. What Constitution? says:

    @Frank33: Just a badge, just a badge. My bet is the only thing Marcy would like less coming from this guy would be an endorsement/compliment. Besides, who uses terms like “the People’s View”? Sounds like commie verbiage to me, certainly couldn’t be coming from a decent ‘Murikin.

  12. bevin says:


    Perhaps I am in error, but it seems to me that by de-classifying the report, the President could quickly solve the problem. Senator Feinstein would then be unable, I suspect, to continue to stonewall.
    If I am right about this, and I may very well not be, then my comment @14 is accurate. If I am wrong, thank you for pointing it out.

  13. Frank33 says:

    @What Constitution?:
    These tactics, used by goons such as Joe McCarthy in he 1950’s destroyed many patriotic Americans. Similar tactics were used in the 1960’s against opponenets of the Vietnam Cluster fuck which killed a million Vietnamese

    Spandan C and his cohorts are attacking people today who oppose the Wars of the One Percent. Actually the majority of Americans oppose the wars that Spandan supports. Same old COINTELPRO. These sniveling sycophants are trying to protect a corrupt American Gestapo which also wants to destroy patriotic Americans now.

    And Spandan C must be receiving an overtime bonus from Michael Hayden and the CIA/NSA/Military Industrial Complex. There is a whole new Post also with the Tag, “Professional Left”. Again it is the neo-cons in the White House who created that Tag against American Progressives and Patriots. The latest propaganda by Spandan C is

    Hair-on-Fire “Progressives” Attack President Obama for “Suppressing” Torture Report He Does Not Control

    Here are the latest lies by Spandan, who is supporting CIA torture as he also slanders more Patriots. But at least Spandan admits that the President does not control anything in this government.

    Update: Funny stuff. He changed the title of the Post. Ha Ha and Lots of laughs.

  14. Strangely Enough says:


    And Spandan C must be receiving an overtime bonus

    A quick look at that site, and its contents, lead me to believe the cow is quite contented, grateful even, to be giving the milk away for free.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Jeff Kaye: Yep. Yep. Yep. One needn’t have read a Daniel Suarez novel to appreciate that, or to dislike the nickname, “Kermit”.

  16. Nell says:

    Just want to join orionatl’s objection to the word “spat” here. I know you’re going a mile a minute on a lot of fronts, and it’s just a word, but it rankles.

Comments are closed.