I’ve been promising to return to the way that the CIA IG Report discusses the Congressional and Executive Branch approvals for the torture program. Particularly given John McCain’s complaint that CIA misrepresented what he said in a torture briefing, I thought it time to do so.
A close look at the claims the IG Report made about approvals shows it:
- Repeats earlier CIA vagueness and outright lies about Congressional briefings and individual Members’ responses to those briefings
- Emphasizes the centrality of DOJ to approvals, at times misleadingly
- May obscure the timing of and the participants in White House approval of the program
Now, remember, it’s not clear whether these fictions are the IG’s fiction, or whether John Helgerson’s team was given crappy information. One other thing to keep in mind, though, is that the IG Report appears to have been drafted as early as February 24, 2004–over two months before it was ultimately released. While Cheney had a chance to review the document, DOJ did not. And Congress was only given the document the week of June 18, 2004, when Ashcroft started balking at its content.
What follows is a paragraph by paragraph assessment of the CIA IG’s claims about Congressional and Executive Branch approvals for torture.
45. At the same time that OLC was reviewing the legality of EITs in the summer of 2002, the Agency was consulting with NSC policy staff and senior Administration officials. The DCI briefed appropriate senior national security and legal officials on the proposed EITs. In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs.
To some degree the first sentence of the paragraph matches what appears in the SSCI Narrative, which shows the following "consultations:"
April 2002: OGC "began discussions with [Bellinger] and OLC concerning the CIA’s proposed interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah and legal restrictions on that interrogation. Bellinger briefed Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff
Mid-May 2002: OGC meets with Ashcroft, Condi, Hadley, Bellinger, and Gonzales
July 13, 2002: OGC met with Bellinger, Yoo, Chertoff, Daniel Levin, Gonzales
July 17, 2002: George Tenet met with Condi, who okays torture program
Though of course, it uses a rather broad definition of "summer." I’m also curious about the "at the same time" description. The SSCI narrative notes that OGC didn’t talk to OLC until after the first consultations. And neither of these account for the alleged earlier approvals going back to at least May. Neither of these account for the meetings between the War Council (Addington, Yoo, Haynes, Rizzo, and Gonzales) going back much further. Furthermore, neither lists the July 13, 2002 letter from Yoo to Rizzo basically instructing him how to game the law. In other words, I wonder (as I have since the SSCI Narrative came out) whether the NSC-CIA discussions are really a distraction from the much earlier approvals involving other lawyers like Addington and Haynes?
Now onto the sentence describing the Congressional briefing. Read more