Andy Card LOL: Bush Can’t Pardon Himself for Torture (But Obama Has)

As part of the discussion in his book explaining how the CIA shifted from torture to killing, Mark Mazzetti tells the story of how the CIA balked at engaging in further torture after the Detainee Treatment Act.

After President Bush signed the bill into law, then-CIA Director Porter Goss wrote the White House saying the CIA would refuse to torture unless and until they got a guarantee they wouldn’t be prosecuted for doing it. In response, the Bush Administration sent Andy Card to the CIA to try to calm them down.

Card drove out to Langley intending to soothe the fears at CIA headquarters, but his visit was a disaster. Inside a packed conference room, Card thanked the assembled CIA officers for their service and their hard work but refused to make any firm declarations that agency officers wouldn’t be criminally liable for participating in the detention-and-interrogation program.

The room became restless. Prodded by his chief of staff, Patrick Murray, Porter Goss interrupted Card.

“Can you assure these people that the politicians will not walk away from the people who carried out this program?” Goss asked. Card didn’t answer the question directly. Instead, he tried to crack a joke.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “Every morning I knock on the door of the Oval Office, walk in, and say, ‘Pardon me, Mr. President.’ And of course, the only person the president can’t pardon is himself.”

Card giggled after he said this, but his joke landed with a thud. The White House chief of staff, when asked whether President Bush would protect CIA officers from legal scrutiny, had suggested that the most they might be abel to rely on is a presidential pardon after the indictments and convictions were handed down. (127-128)

Goss effectively repeated a request the CIA had made, unsuccessfully, as early as July 13, 2002 (when, it should be said, Goss was ostensibly in charge of overseeing the program at the House Intelligence Committee, though there’s no reason to believe he knew about the earlier request): for an Administration guarantee that everyone involved in the torture program would be shielded from criminal consequences for kidnapping and torturing.

And in response, Card implied to these CIA officers and executives two things:

  • President Bush would pardon anyone convicted of crimes related to torture
  • Bush, himself, was ultimately exposed to prosecution for those crimes as well (all the more so, since he couldn’t pardon his own crimes)

Now, Card wouldn’t have even tried such a joke unless he knew his audience knew that the torture program was based on a Presidential Finding — what we know to be the September 17, 2001 Gloves Come Off Memorandum of Notification.

There’s fairly clear evidence that CIA’s officers did know about it.

George Tenet had made that clear on every single page of his January 2003 Guidelines on Interrogations, which at least some CIA interrogators had to sign.  Read more

Who Was–and Was Not–in on Rummy’s “Plan”

Gawker has liberated Iraq some of Rummy’s papers on Iraq and Afghanistan. (h/t Rosalind) And while I hope to return to the series on John Walker Lindh (79ff) and the memo, cc’ed to the public affairs people, in which Rummy ordered Jim Haynes to write a memo saying that the way DOD was detaining people was “perfectly legal,” (75ff)

But I just wanted to make a real minor point about the memo he sent on December 13, 2003 to Dick Cheney, cc’ed to Andrew Card and Condi Rice (3):

Attached are some remarks I have been making that talk about planning for post-war Iraq.

With opponents saying we had no “plan,” it is important that we keep referring to our “plan.”

This was the Secretary of Defense sending a messaging note to the Vice President, cc’ing the Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor. It might be the kind of thing that the public affairs office would generate, not the Secretary of Defense. And it’s certainly not the kind of thing you’d normally see the VP as primary recipient of.

And of course, note who’s missing? Colin Powell. Who of course knew Rummy didn’t have a plan.

Interestingly, page 39ff makes it clear that Rummy had not received a copy of the White House propaganda piece, “A Decade of Deception and Defiance,” before he read about it in the NYT (in either a Sanger/Bumiller or a Patrick Tyler piece).

Why Send Andy Card and Frances Fragos Townsend to Rebut Ridge?

Mary reminded me that I wanted to comment on the Bush Administration’s response to Tom Ridge allegation–or rather, confirmation–that the terror alert system was politicized. Politico tells us that when the  were asked about Ridge’s allegation they–apparently all of them–referred reporters to Frances Fragos Townsend and Andy Card.

Ridge did not respond to numerous requests for comment from POLITICO and a number of former top political and national security officials within the Bush administration declined to respond to Ridge, referring POLITICO to Card and Townsend.

Don’t you think that a little odd? That "a number of former top political and national security officials" would all tell reporters to speak to Townsend and Card? Particularly since, as Card Townsend tells it, he didn’t know Ridge was writing a book?

“I didn’t even know Tom was even really writing a book,” said Card.

So what you’re left with is Card claiming he never saw Bush overriding the decisions of the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security, which is different than saying those in NSC didn’t push Ridge towards certain decisions. You’ve got Townsend, the woman whom the Bush Administration didn’t read into the warrantless wiretap program even though it was a core function of her job, claiming that (as with Jim Comey) she never saw any pressure exerted on Ridge.

“Never in my experience did I see any political influence exerted on the cabinet secretary.” 

And you’ve got Andy Card, the guy who, seven years ago, was just rolling out the September new product, claiming the Bush Administration never let politics influence national security decisions.

“We went over backwards repeatedly and with great discipline to make sure politics did not influence any national security and homeland security decisions,” former White House chief of staff Andy Card told POLITICO. “The clear instructions were to make sure politics never influenced anything.” 

If this is the best the Dead-Enders can do to rebut Tom Ridge, I expect Ridge will be having a long and very profitable book tour. Because this response is simply not credible.

Update: Card/Townsend error fixed.

George Bush PERSONALLY Sent Card and Gonzales to Thug Up Ashcroft

Bush Thug Life

by twolf1

Today’s IG Report on illegal wiretapping answers another previously unanswered question: who called Mrs. Ashcroft to tell her Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales were coming to the ICU ward to rough of John Ashcroft.

George Bush did so himself.

From the report:

According to notes from Ashcroft’s FBI security detail, at 6:20 PM that evening Card called the hospital and spoke with an agent in Ashcroft’s security detail, advising him that President Bush would be calling shortly to speak with Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s wife told the agent that Ashcroft would not accept the call. Ten minutes later, the agent called Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff David Ayres at DOJ to request that Ayres speak with Card about the President’s intention to call Ashcroft. The agent conveyed to Ayres Mrs. Ashcroft’s desire that no calls be made to Ashcroft for another day or two. However, at 6:5 PM, Card and the President called the hospital and, according to the agent’s notes, "insisted on speaking [with Attorney General Ashcroft]." According to the agent’s notes, Mrs. Ashcroft took the call from Card and the President and was informed that Gonzales and Card were coming to the hospital to see Ashcroft regarding a matter involving national security. (24) [my emphasis]

That use of the passive–almost the only incidence of its use in this report–is a nice touch. I guess five Inspectors General still don’t want to admit that the President of the United States personally led this kind of thuggery.

Hey Andy? What About Dick’s Breach of Etiquette?

Andy Card is deeply offended that Barack Obama works in shirt sleeves, and not a coat and tie.

"There should be a dress code of respect," Card tells INSIDE EDITION. "I wish that he would wear a suit coat and tie."


"The Oval Office symbolizes…the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it’s appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President."

I agree with dakine that it is preferable to have a President, in shirt sleeves, working to protect the Constitution, rather than thugs in suit and tie, shredding it.

For myself, if I have a choice of an administration where everyone wears suits and ties and are all buttoned up while they destroy the country and the Constitution (but they look professional while doing so!) or an administration that takes off their coats and gets to work and actually does something to benefit most of the country, I will choose the latter hands down every time.

But I’m also wondering about Card’s misplaced focus on etiquette. Here he is, beating up Obama for his dress code, and ignoring a gross breach of etiquette–one that probably puts our country at some risk, in that it fosters gross insuburdination. As Lawrence O’Donnell explains to David Shuster, former Administration officials simply do not criticize the capabilities of their successors. It is not done.

No former Vice President has ever questioned the ability of the current Administration to protect the United States. This is something for which unprecedented is a mild word.

Yet somehow, Andy Card is able to overlook Cheney’s gross breach of etiquette even while bitching about Obama’s shirt sleeves.

Scottie McC’s Chronology: September 29

In this post, I showed that Scottie McC should have suspected that Rove was lying at least by September 27, when it would have become clear that Rove had already been less than forthcoming about his conversations with Bob Novak and when it should have become clear that, after finding out the identities of the 2 SAOs alleged to have leaked Valerie Wilson’s identity to 6 journalists, Mike Allen immediately called Rove for comment.

Which brings us to September 29, the day when Bush told Scottie McC that Rove "didn’t do it."

Before I start, let me point out that Scottie McC presents several events that happened on September 29, most of which he doesn’t place in chronology within that day. These are (in the order I’m guessing they occurred):

"That morning the Washington Post was reporting that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of Plame’s identity."

[Between 7:00 and 7:30 AM] Bush told Scottie that "Karl didn’t do it … He told me he didn’t do it."

"Andy [Card] replied that he had not heard anything new [about the investigation], and as far as he knew we had yet to hear from the Justice Department."

[simultaneous with the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting, but necessarily viewed afterwards] "Joe Wilson, appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, was backing away from his previous assertion that Rove had been responsible for leaking his wife’s identity. However, Wilson also asserted that he believed Rove ‘at a minimum condoned the leak.’"

"I checked with Rove that day to confirm that he’d neither leaked nor condoned leaking Plame’s identity. He assured me that was correct."

Two things about this chronology. First, by putting the GMA Wilson comments and the Rove question before his account of the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting as he does in his book, Scottie McC suggests he had one more reason to believe Bush when he told him Rove hadn’t leaked Plame’s identity–that even Joe Wilson was backing off the allegation. But since GMA airs at 7:00, precisely when Scottie McC says he was meeting with Bush, it’s unlikely he saw Wilson’s comments until after both the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting and the senior staff meeting (which took place immediately afterwards). We know, however, that Scottie McC saw the GMA comments before his 12:18 press briefing, because he mentions Wilson in the briefing. That’s just one small detail that might make Scottie McC’s acceptance of Bush’s statement more credible.

Also, note how Scottie McC states that the WaPo had reported "that morning" that DOJ had opened a criminal investigation. As I pointed out in my last post, that’s just meaningless. Read more

Who “We” Included in the Torture Briefings

rincewind made an important point in my post on the torture briefings. At least one of the sources for the story must be one of the briefees, not a briefer. rincewind points to these two quotes that come from someone within the committee.

“It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time,” said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. “They’d say, ‘We’ve got so and so. This is the plan.’”


“These discussions weren’t adding value,” a source said. “Once you make a policy decision to go beyond what you used to do and conclude it’s legal, (you should) just tell them to implement it.”

This source obviously considers himself as one of the people receiving the briefing, which further suggests this source is not in the CIA.

As luck would have it, via Troutfishing’s diary and this McGovern piece, I checked out this February 7, 2002 memo in which Bush declares that Al Qaeda will not be entitled to Geneva Convention protections. The memo seems to indicate that it is addressed to all the people who have participated–at least thus far–in discussions on torture; it refers to "our recent extensive discussions regarding the status of Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees." Now check out the list of addressees:

Dick Cheney
Colin Powell
John Ashcroft
Andy Card
George Tenet
Condi Rice
Richard Myers

In other words, two of the people whom Bush noted as being involved in "extensive discussions regarding the status of Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees" are not included in the list ABC News gave of the attendees of the meetings that took place slightly later in 2002: Andy Card and Richard Myers. Either is a possibility to be the "high-ranking official" who objected to the repeated discussions of what techniques to use. Certainly, Myers is on the record as having opposed the decision not to extend Geneva Convention protections to Al Qaeda (most recently in reports from Feith’s book). And he would count as "high-ranking" in more than one sense (though neither he, nor Card, is still an official, after all).

Read more