Should Alfreda Bikowsky’s Lawyer Really Be in Charge of Declassifying the Torture Report?

It took McClatchy 21 paragraphs to illustrate why it was such a big conflict of interest for Director of National Intelligence General Counsel to lead negotiations over how much of the torture report would be declassified, as he currently is doing.

According to reports in The Washington Post, Litt previously represented a CIA analyst, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, who played a central role in the bungled rendition of Khaled el-Masri. El-Masri, who was revealed to be innocent, claimed to have been tortured by the agency.

As the rest of the article explains, Litt reviewed his role brokering the declassification process with ODNI’s Ethics officer — who is his subordinate — and she approved his participation.

But it still probably conflicts with Litt’s promises, made during his confirmation process, to recuse himself from matters affecting his former clients. And given the centrality of CIA’s absurd demand to hide even the pseudonyms making clear that the same woman who got El-Masri tortured also went out of her way to watch Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be tortured (among a fairly substantial list of other things — here’s a reminder of details on how she got promoted after the El-Masri debacle), it is a problem that Litt is brokering this process.

Don’t worry, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden insists (fresh off insisting it’s a good thing that the White House cybersecurity czar doesn’t have a technical background), Bob Litt — the same guy hiding known dates in Internet dragnet documents, almost certainly to avoid legal repercussions — is one of the administration’s strongest proponents of what it calls “transparency.”™

“Bob Litt is one of the administration’s strongest proponents of transparency in intelligence, consistent with our national security, and he and we are fully committed to ensuring there is no conflict of interest as the administration continues to work to see the results of the committee’s review made public,” Hayden said in a statement.

Calling Bob Litt a proponent of “transparency”™ is itself cause for concern.

7 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Just caught up on a month’s worth of EW – health issue took me away. I have missed WAY too much quality writing. Thank you Marcy for all your efforts… You are amazing at weeding…

    Not sure about “of transparency…”

    “A transparency…” Clear, flimsy, plastic for projecting ones ideas on a large format. THAT, I would buy as a description irt Litt.

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    Enough with the “question” titles! Of course he should not be in charge. There are obvious conflicts of interest.

    But that’s not all of note here.

    1) It is not until the 27th paragraph that the article ever mentions the fact that we are talking here not about the actual torture report, but of its Executive Summary. Even then, the way the article mentions it obscures the issue, and the article never mentions that the report itself has been suppressed. Unfortunately, your blog piece does not make that clear either.

    2) Worthy of note is the fact that Litt got the green light for his role from SSCI chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who also led the decision, apparently, to release only the Exec Summary of the full torture report.

    3) Litt is not the only conflict of interest, at least in a wider but substantive sense. Designated DNI Ethics Official, Susan Gibson, was the former Legal Advisor for HUMINT Operations for the DIA from July 2003 through August 2005, a period when HUMINT ops for DIA included substantial use of torture and other detainee abuse.

    As early as March 2002, and maybe earlier per SASC report, JPRA, including Jessen himself, was training DIA interrogators in the SERE-derived torture program used by the CIA as well. And that’s just one example of DIA participation in torture. Perhaps I should mention Dave Becker and those infamous Guantanamo minutes?

    Gibson is knee deep in the torture scandal, though her exact role is unclear, and needs further investigation. But to have someone so close to the use of torture be the ethics person who okays Bikowsky’s lawyer on the SSCI “report” in essence makes a mockery of the concept of ethics “review.”

    • wallace says:

      Notwithstanding emptywheels post, thanks Jeff. Your coverage and journalism regarding the insidious CIA torture program is astounding. If ever this country gets a moral footing again, it would only be because of prosecuting these depraved sub-human pond scum. However, when pigs fly comes to mind. In the meantime…

    • wallace says:

      ps.. one more thing. Kevin’s article on the Guantanamo nurse who refused to continue force feeding an innocent detainee really highlights the DOD’s continuing conspiracy to hide their role in current torture of human beings. There’s no words to describe my complete blood curdling rage at my government anymore. Notwithstanding the maggots in Congress, how most of the citizens in this country can continue to ignore the horror’s it’s military perpetrates with impunity, is living testimony to it’s own decent into a third world nation of conscienceless, spineless worms deserving nothing but the profoundest contempt…a curdled staggering mutant insensate stench..governed by puke drooling giggling beasts..whose mothers killed themselves in recognition of what they had sired. an ogre ..a degenerate malformity. A monument to revulsion. A protohominid chromosomally aberrant caricature of a coprophagic cloacal parasitic pond scum.

      If ANYTHING, there SHOULD be a continuous, multi-million outraged occupy surrounding Congress DEMANDING their government cease perpetrating WAR CRIMES and the surrender of the un-redacted Torture report, whereby the identities of US war criminals will be forced on the judicial system for prosecution.. via the threat of complete armed insurrection and anarchy to the point of public vigilante justice by guillotine . At least in my universe.

      ….notwithstanding the entire Executive branch

      Meanwhile the calibration on my Contempt-O’Meter is at it’s maximum threshold. This is contempt in it’s most pure form. Beyond measuring Contempt. I mean rock-hard Contempt. Dehydrated-rock-hard Contempt. Contempt, so contemptful it goes way beyond the Contempt we know into a whole different dimension of Contempt. Trans-contempt Contempt. Meta-Contempt. Contempt collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Contempt gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity Contempt. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury Contempt. More Contempt in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar Contempt. Nothing in our universe can really be this contemptful. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of Contempt. Some pure essence of Contempt so uncontaminated by anything else as to be the Big Bang of Contempt. Yes, that Contempt.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Sounds like an inbred community – no one new comes in, and no one old leaves — but still that’s no excuse. Someone ought to find out what State (or D.C.) bars these lawyers belong to, and file ethics complaints against them. Might work like a FOIA, no?

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