John Yoo Approved the Stellar Wind Authorization that First Covered Iraq

As I noted, one interesting aspect of reading the Stellar Wind IG Reports is tracking the things that show up in the Snowden-leaked draft IG Report that are completely redacted in the DOJ-released report.

One thing that is completely redacted is that Stellar Wind was used to spy on Iraqi targets (or US targets alleged to be Iraqi targets during the war?), as explained here.

(TS//SI//NF) Iraqi Intelligence Service. For a limited period of time surrounding the 2003 invasion oflraq, the President authorized the use of PSP authority against the Iraqi Intelligence Service. On 28 March 2003, the DCI determined that, based on then current intelligence, the Iraqi Intelligence service was engaged in terrorist activities and presented a threat to U.S. interests in the United States and abroad. Through the Deputy DCI, Mr. Tenet received the President’s concurrence that PSP authorities could be used against the Iraqi Intelligence Service. NSA ceased using the Authority for this purpose in March 2004.

Given the timing, this almost certainly is one of the things Jack Goldsmith shut down in the first set of modifications in March 2004 (there appears to have been a parallel effort in 2004 to stop treating Iraqi prisoners as terrorists who could be tortured).

And while the officially released IG Reports hide all mention of this, there is one detail that says volumes. Amid the section describing all the things Patrick Philbin found to be problematic in Yoo’s OLC memos authorizing the program, this footnote appears (at PDF 442).

See Presidential Authorization of April 22, 2003 at para. 4(b)(i) & (ii). The April 22, 2003, Authorization was the only Authorization personally approved as to form and legality by Yoo. He approved the Authorization on April 18, 2003; five days before the date of his talking points memorandum.

John Yoo, not Attorney General Ashcroft, signed the Authorization that went into effect on April 22, 2003.

This Authorization was the first issued after Tenet declared Iraq terrorists on March 28, 2003 (I’ve added the Authorization dates here).

As it happens, that Authorization was also the last or second-to-last one signed while Yoo remained at DOJ. He left in June 2003 because Ashcroft had refused to let him assume the OLC AAG position after Jay Bybee moved onto his sinecure on the 9th Circuit.

That’s not the last crazy thing Yoo did while at OLC: at roughly the same time he was free-lancing “Legal Principles” documents pretend-authorizing torture techniques that the original Bybee memo had not approved.

But I find it interesting that one of the last things Yoo did was sign an authorization to use a program purportedly focused on terrorists to surveil targets (who must in some part be in the US) related to a war of choice.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

5 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    As head of OLC, Yoo is several people deep on the DOJ organizational chart. Not only would Ashcroft had to have passed on signing the authorization, but so would others.
    .
    Curiouser and curiouser . . .
    .

    But I find it interesting . . .

    .
    Garrison Keillor, IIRC, tells a story about this word. “When the pastor’s wife appeared in a rather revealing outfit, the head of the women’s groups was asked about it. ‘Well, that’s interesting,’ she said, meaning that it was completely unacceptable but we don’t want to be that direct in saying so.”
    .
    In that vein, I find Yoo’s actions to be interesting as well.

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually just Ashcroft. Just he and Yoo and James Baker (in OIPR) were read in.

      I do find the timing interesting for another reason. David Kris left around that time. He knew of the program, but was not read in, and he refused to let anything touched by Stellar Wind get into ODAG (Larry THompson was not read in either).

      Did he learn they had extended it to Iraq and possibly anti-Iraq War targets in the US?

  2. galljdaj says:

    I find it very strange, that I have never read from any ‘critic’ that gonzales,bybee, and yoo were not acting on ‘orders’!

    Think about the title of the person(S) that can do such in Our Govt!

  3. wallace says:

    quote”That’s not the last crazy thing Yoo did while at OLC: at roughly the same time he was free-lancing “Legal Principles” documents pretend-authorizing torture techniques that the original Bybee memo had not approved.”unquote

    Speaking of crazy, the mere fact that UC Berkley allowed this fucking war criminal to come back and TEACH law, is beyond insane. Moreover, some UC professor’s were even calling for his prosecution..

    quote”Torture is a crime, a violation of the Federal Torture Act. Those who engaged in the torture documented in such exhaustive detail in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report should be prosecuted, and those who conspired in that torture should also be prosecuted. They include UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo, says Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the Law School at the University of California Irvine.”unquote

    http://www.thenation.com/blog/192809/prosecute-john-yoo-says-law-school-dean-erwin-chemerinsky

    Conspired. The magic word. This is exactly what Yoo et al did. Along with Obama..Holder and a shit load of other scumbag criminals who conspired to allow this prick and others to escape prosecution. Especially given the Senate “torture” report and this latest revelation. If ever there was living proof that the USG is a Legal Imperialism that raises it’s middle finger to the “rule of law”…this is IT….

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2340

    Meanwhile, all the REAL CIA/Contractor torturer’s remain free while the torture whistleblowers continue to suffer from the USG’s vindictive psychopathy.

    In my universe… notwithstanding a half million armed citizens ready to burn them alive…a legal authority would be arresting these criminals for due process..while building the largest set of gallows ever seen in the cosmos.

    • galljdaj says:

      My estimate of probability of a road to the gallows for the US WARCRIMINAL GOVT, is less than 10% of a hundreds’ percent. So where will Our Country go to rehabilitate Itself? The lil bush clan of daddy bush and the obtuse followers including the democrats that have been following in the same ‘road’ have sunk 0ur Nation. All that’s left is to steal and destroy while killing the unfavored.

      The new ‘rule of law’!?

Comments are closed.