Joel Brenner Reveals David Addington’s Sources and Methods

Several people (including Dan Froomkin) have pointed to the speech former NSA Inspector General Joel Brenner gave at NSA today for the confirmation of what was pretty clear from the joint IG Report on Stellar Wind — that David Addington ran the program out of OVP.

The seed of the problem was planted shortly after 9/11, when the White House determined to undertake certain collection outside the FISA regime under a highly classified, but now mostly declassified, program called STELLAR WIND. That program was not SAP’ed, because the creation of a new special access program requires Congressional notification, but it was run directly by the Office of the Vice President and put under the direct personal control of the Vice President’s counsel, David Addington.

But there’s another detail I find more interesting (aside from Brenner’s note that parts of the program remain classified, which people often forget).

Stellar Wind was not SAP’ed, Joel Brenner (who was, at least according to the IG Report, not read in himself until far later than he makes out in his speech).

Because if it were SAP’ed — if it were made a Special Access Program — then Congress would have had to be notified.

I’m interested in that for two reasons.

First (and most prosically), the Executive was messing around with the classification of Stellar Wind at least until January 2009, when they appear to have been making last minute adjustments to gain advantage in the al-Haramain suit.

More interestingly, because the Executive claims Congress was notified (even in that IG Report, though interestingly enough, some accountings of Congressional briefings got redacted in the underlying reports). Joel Brenner is here suggesting that they weren’t, really. Which is consistent with the fact that the briefing Congress got on March 10, 2004 was different in substance than what they had gotten before then.

Finally, because there are questions about when and who made the torture program a SAP. It appears not to have happened until early 2003 (and some of CIA’s own briefing records suggest that’s when the first torture briefings were, notwithstanding the September 2002 briefings for the Gang of Four).

Brenner’s suggestion makes it likely (as if it weren’t already) that that decision, too, was driven by Addington.

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.

4 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    what’s this ? could the “intelligence communit” be resolved to throw ol’ snarl under the bus, to reveal vice-president cheney (and eventually and certainly his great pal rumsfeld) under the bus ?

    will cheney be revealed, as ew seems to hint, as the source of the waywardness that affected not only the nsa, but also the cia, and the doj forctheclast 15 years ?

    there could not be a worthier target for blame, opprobrium, and contempt than ol’ snarl, one of the stupidest but political craftiest individuals to ever worm their way into high public office. what a disaster he was.

    look for a cheney family teevee blitz soon to try to spray over the stench.

  2. galljdaj says:

    Another reason Our Country went down the ‘toilet’ with Our Constitution, i.e., ‘lawyers have become our politicians, while the process of lawyering has been changed from a code of finding and speaking the Truth to speaking and doing Adversarial Lawyering(lying and chicanery).

  3. wallace says:

    quote”i.e., ‘lawyers have become our politicians, while the process of lawyering has been changed from a code of finding and speaking the Truth to speaking and doing Adversarial Lawyering(lying and chicanery).”unquote

    indeed. When lawyers became politicians they inherit the curse of “if their lips are moving…” while keeping the inherent characteristics of a stinking, bottom dwelling, scum sucking catfish.

    Meanwhile, if the so called “rule of law” means anything, Brenner’s admission of criminality on behalf of the NSA SHOULD result in DOJ criminal prosecutions of those responsible for authorizing those crimes. However, as we all know, when it comes to prosecuting high ranking criminals in the US, the two tiered “justice” system in this country defers to characteristics of the above mentioned catfish. After all..they ARE lawyers.

  4. wallace says:

    If the arena of truth surrounding the “national security” were jazz, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis would have prosecuted Bush, Cheney, Addington, Hayden, Clapper, Alexander, Litt et al on the stage of absolute truth to the point of shame these scum of the earth could NEVER face mankind again.

Comments are closed.