Jose Rodriguez & CIA Lawyer Removed Sentence about Torture Illegality from Pelosi, Goss Briefing Record

Over four years ago, I wrote a post noting how, in the two days after Jose Rodriguez and one of his Counterterrorism Lawyers briefed Nancy Pelosi and Porter Goss in September 2002 they might use torture prospectively, they 1) moved closer to deciding to destroy the torture tapes and 2) altered their initial record of the briefing to take out one sentence.

As I pointed out in the comments to this thread, someone (I’ll show in my new weedy post why it might be then-Counterterrorism Center Legal Counsel Jonathan Fredman) changed the initial description of the briefing that Jose Rodriguez and two others (I believe Fredman was one of the two) gave to Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi on September 4, 2002. To see the documents showing discussing the alteration (but not the content of it), see PDF 84 of this set and PDF 11-12 of this set.

That’s suspicious enough. But as the email discussions of destroying the torture tape show (see PDF 3), the briefing and the alteration to the briefing record happened the day before and the day after–respectively–the day “HQS elements” started talking seriously about destroying the torture tapes.

On 05 September 2002, HQS elements discussed the disposition of the videotapes documenting interrogation sessions with ((Abu Zubaydah)) that are currently being stored at [redacted] with particular consideration to the matters described in Ref A Paras 2 and 3 and Ref B para 4. As reflected in Refs, the retention of these tapes, which is not/not required by law, represents a serious security risk for [redacted] officers recorded on them, and for all [redacted] officers present and participating in [redacted] operations.


Accordingly, the participants determined that the best alternative to eliminate those security and additional risks is to destroy these tapes [redacted]

So here’s what this looks like in timeline form:

September 4, 2002: Jose Rodriguez, C/CTC/LGL (probably Fredman) and a CTC Records officer brief Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi on Abu Zubaydah’s treatment. According to both Goss and Pelosi, CIA briefs them on torture techniques, but implies they are hypothetical techniques that might be used in the future, not the past.

September 5, 2002: Unnamed people at CIA HQ discuss destroying the torture tapes, ostensibly because of danger to CIA officers conducting the torture.

September 6, 2002: Someone (possibly Jonathan Fredman or someone else in CTC’s Legal department) alters the initial description of the Goss-Pelosi briefing, eliminating one sentence of it. “Short and sweet” Rodriguez responded to the proposed change.

September 9, 2002: CIA records show a scheduled briefing for Bob Graham and Richard Shelby to cover the same materials as briefed in the Goss-Pelosi briefing. The September 9 briefing never happened; Graham and Shelby were eventually briefed on September 27, 2002 (though not by Rodriguez personally).

September 10, 2002: The altered description of the briefing is sent internally for CTC records. This briefing is never finalized by Office of Congressional Affairs head Stan Moskowitz into a formal Memorandum for the Record.

Or, to put it more plainly, they briefed Pelosi, decided they wanted to destroy the torture tapes (there’s no record Pelosi was told about the tapes), and then tweaked the record about what they had said to Pelosi.

The Torture Report backs my analysis (though doesn’t include the details about the torture tapes or that both Pelosi and Goss said they had been briefed the torture would be used prospectively; see here for backing of the claim this was a prospective briefing). But it adds one more detail.

The sentence Jose Rodriguez and his lawyer eliminated — the day after folks at CIA discussed destroying the torture tapes showing they had already used this torture — recorded that one or both of Pelosi and Goss noted that these techniques would be illegal in another country.

In early September 2002, the CIA briefed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) leadership about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. Two days after, the CIA’s [redacted]CTC Legal [redacted], excised from a draft memorandum memorializing the briefing indications that the HPSCI leadership questioned the legality of the program by deleting the sentence: “HPSCI attendees also questioned the legality of these techniques if other countries would use them.”2454 After [redacted] blind-copied Jose Rodriguez on the email in which he transmitted the changes to the memorandum, Rodriguez responded to email with: “short and sweet.”

At least one of these members of Congress (or their staffers) got briefed on torture and said the torture would be illegal if other countries used it, according to CIA’s own records. So CTC’s lawyer eliminated that comment from the CIA’s record, with Jose Rodriguez’ gleeful approval.

And yet he says Congress approved of these techniques from the start.

10 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    So: lying to Congress, then changing the record to hide the lies, then lying about changing the record? And his ass isn’t in Leavenworth yet?

  2. bloopie2 says:

    My mother had several rules she taught me when I came of age to vote. One of them was “They’re all crooks.” Boy, was she ever right.

    • RUKidding says:

      My mother told me that, too, although she wanted to use it as an excuse/justification for NOT impeaching Nixon. Already the rightwing noise machine had dittoized some portion of the citizenry.

      OTOH, mom was correct, and it’s only gotten worse. Their crimes ever more venal AND more obvious AND, unlike Nixon – who should have NEVER been pardoned – there are NO consequences. Ergo, these crooks do what they do with impunity. It will only get worse from here.

      • P J Evans says:

        My mom taught me that Nixon was always crooked. (She remembered his campaign against Gahagan.) She certainly had that right, and also her advice to vote against people who describe themselves as ‘educators’.

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    Turning the tables?
    A modern day Sherlock Holmes, you are. A great summary.

    How about if we dismantle The CIA, a la a The SEC in Michael Lewis’s treatise on Wall Street

    “Our new financial system will probably be so well behaved that it will not require further regulation. It will be slower and more deliberate. It will be more focused on the longer term and its reputation with the public — as older people tend to be. It will probably even serve the economy, rather than be served by it. But as a final safeguard the Securities and Exchange Commission will need to be dismantled, and rebuilt as a for-profit enterprise. So that it might be at once feared and loathed, the regulator will be named “Goldman Sachs.” Goldman Sachs will be paid by the government a finders’ fee, for every little old lady it discovers in the act of a financial crime. Goldman Sachs will be allowed to pay as much as it wants to its employees — the alpha males who happen to get caught forging birth certificates and attempting to get jobs on Wall Street before they turn 35.”


    Elizabeth Warren for Prez!

  4. mzchief says:

    OT– Going on 3 weeks now, it sure does appear that AIPAC lapdog ComCast’s monitoring equipment turns off pipe services and won’t turn them back on unless at least one machine on that segment of pipe coughs up id.

  5. What Constitution? says:

    So, let’s see if I have this right: In the past week, we’ve learned that while yes, “we tortured some folks”, the scope and extent of what “we” did was far worse than we could previously have imagined … BUT we’re seeing that this gets Dick Cheney to not only confirm that’s what “we” did, but that he’s glad he got it done, “would do it again” in a heartbeat, and only regrets not doing more of it. And the press jumping to “confirm” that “that’s what America wants”. And now we see this followed by the one political announcement that could not do more to cement the rest of the world’s love and respect for America as a citadel resting comfortably on moral high ground, and that’s the idea that George W. Bush’s brother will be running for President and is perceived as actually having a chance of being elected. And, based on the week’s reporting, I’m anxious to hear whether the US is going to torture us some Koreans just so Sony’s customers will be safe from Terra when that movie opens. Nevertheless, on the “like that’s ‘news'” front, EW here demonstrates that the guys doing the torturing took a teeny tiny sentence out of some silly “report” to some useless “oversight” group a dozen or so years back? So? Like anybody cares in the Grand Scheme of Things?

    I particularly have liked the “justification” for torture — as laid out by both Cheney and Yoo this past week — that the “absence of another 9/11 attack” somehow “proves” that torture worked. Reminds me that I have a charm on my keychain that keeps rhinocerouses away — and damn if I haven’t been not attacked by a rhinocerous since I got it.

    I’ll donate a dollar to any Sunday news show that will interview Jose Rodriguez and ask him about this.

    • wallace says:

      quote”I’ll donate a dollar to any Sunday news show that will interview Jose Rodriguez and ask him about this.”unquote

      I’ll buy drinks for an entire evening for anyone who will spit in his insidious face.

  6. wallace says:

    quote:”And yet he says Congress approved of these techniques from the start.”unquote

    ummm…since when is a couple of members of a committee..”congress”? As if the entire Congress “approved” of these so called..ahem..”techniques”. If in fact, a couple of members of a committee can “approve” the breaking of not only American law, but approve of ignoring the US responsibility as a signatory of the Convention on Torture then the entire Congress has approved it. Which means.. the entire US Congress is no longer “legitimate”. Indeed, when an entire branch of our government has declared “rule of law”, null and’s time to teach them the reason why the Founders gave us the 2nd amendment. Because…well…voting is a joke of biblical proportions now.

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