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Praising by Damned Faintness: The NSAs, SoSs, and SoDs Who Didn’t Endorse Chuck Hagel

Ever since this letter, in which a bunch of former Directors of Central Intelligence–but not Poppy Bush–came out against torture investigations, I’ve been more interested in who doesn’t sign these endorsement letters than who does.

For example, did you notice that Harold Koh did not vouch for John Brennan’s respect for the rule of law the other day, even though his counterpart at DOD, Jeh Johnson, did?

The same is true of this letter–signed by a bunch of former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of Defense and State in support of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense Secretary.

Here’s who did endorse:

Hon. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

Hon. Samuel Berger, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. James Jones, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Perry, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor

Hon. George Shultz, former Secretary of State

Hon. Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor

Which leaves–in addition to currently serving Tom Donilon, Leon Panetta, and Hillary Clinton–these non-endorsers:

Stephen Hadley

Condi Rice (both NSA and State)

Anthony Lake (Lake directs UNICEF right now, which may preclude such endorsements)

Frank Carlucci (both NSA and Defense Secretary) [Update: Thanks to Justin Raimundo for correcting me–while Carlucci did not sign this letter, he did sign a LTE in support of Hagel]

John Poindexter

William Clark (NSA for Reagan)

Richard Allen (NSA for Reagan)

Henry Kissinger (both NSA and State)

Donald Rumsfeld

Dick Cheney

James Schlesinger

James Baker III

Jeebus, White House, get on your game! You want people to vote for Hagel? Release the list of all the corporatist warmongers who didn’t endorse Chuck Hagel. Hagel may not be my first choice, but there is no clearer praise than the list of non-endorsers Hagel has racked up.

Did Addington Oppose 9/11 Commission Questions to Avoid Independent Evaluation of Torture Program?

Shortly after news broke that CIA destroyed the torture tapes, the 9/11 Commission issued a letter complaining that they had not been told of–much less been allowed to review–the torture tapes.

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

They released a memo from Philip Zelikow describing how the Administration refused to allow the 9/11 Commission direct access to detainees in early 2004.

The full Commission considered this issue in a meeting on January 5, 2004 and decided the CIA responses were insufficient. It directed the staff to prepare a letter to administration officials that would make the dispute public. There were then discussions between Hamilton and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and several meetings of CIA lawyers with Commission staff. The Commission offered various compromises to avoid disrupting the interrogation process, including direction or observation of questioning in real-time using one-way glass, adjoining rooms, or similar techniques. In a January 15, 2004 memo to Gonzales, Muller, and Undersecretary of Defense Steve Cambone, Zelikow wrote, “We remain ready to work creatively with you on any option that can allow us to aid the intelligence community in cross-examining the conspriators on many critical details, clarify for us what the conspirators are actually saying, and allow us to evaluate the credibility of these replies.”

But these negotiations made little progress. Hamilton and commissioner Fred Fielding then met with Gonzales, Tenet, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Chris Wray from the Department of Justice. The administration offered to take sets of written followup questions, pose them to detainees, relay answers back to the Commission, and take further questions. In a January 26, 2004 meeting the Commission accepted this proposal as the best information it could obtain to address its longstanding questions.

Today’s document dump includes an interesting snapshot of the Administration response to the Commission request. (PDF 25-30)

It appears that David Addington took the lead on refusing the 9/11 Commission’s request. It appears Addington got the draft of the letter from 9/11 Commission–which was addressed to Rummy and George Tenet. Tenet and Addington clearly had a conversation about how to respond. But it seems that Addington drafted the response, got Condi, Andy Card, and Alberto Gonzales to review it, and then sent it to Tenet (and, presumably, Rummy) to okay and sign the letter.

In other words, OVP had the lead in refusing the 9/11 Commission’s request for more information from the detainees.

The document is also interesting for the underlining on the letter from the Commission. While it’s not clear who made the markings (though it seems likely to be Addington since that version of the letter clearly came from him), whoever made them appears to have reacted strongly against the Commission’s intention to independently evaluate the detainees and their interrogations. Read more