Jose Rodriguez Briefed Pelosi and Goss in Deceptive Abu Zubaydah Briefing

As MadDog noted, Judicial Watch just got some new documents detailing briefings Congress received. Or rather, they got new documents providing further proof that CIA has no fucking clue what it said to Congress during some key briefings (this batch shows, for example, that the fall 2003 briefings were never finalized into a Memo for the Record, just as earlier ones weren’t, and PDF 48 shows that many key briefings weren’t recorded).

But in what I’ve reviewed so far, the new documents reveal one important new detail. Page 44 of this PDF provides a mostly redacted record of the briefing CIA gave Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi on Abu Zubaydah’s torture on September 4, 2002. We know–because both Goss and Pelosi have described this detail the same way–that CIA did not tell the House Intelligence leadership that it had already tortured Abu Zubaydah. CIA told Goss and Pelosi about waterboarding, but spoke of it as a technique that might hypothetically be used in the future, not something that had been used 83 times on one detainee the prior month.

But we haven’t known who gave that badly deceptive briefing. Mind you, I had my suspicions. I thought it likely that Jose Rodriguez, then head of Counterterrorism Center, and the guy who ordered the torture tapes destroyed three years later, was a likely candidate to have done that briefing. But there was no proof.

Until today.

Assuming CIA’s own documentation is accurate (always a big assumption, given the CIA), then Jose Rodriguez–listed as D/CTC–is the one who gave Goss and Pelosi that deceptive briefing.

Jose Rodriguez went on to participate in destroying evidence of torture that should have been briefed to Congress. And these documents prove (again, presuming CIA’s documents are accurate) that Jose Rodriguez was deceiving Congress about torture right from the start.

Congressman Dingell: Call Bart Stupak on His Lies about Abortion

John Dingell says he is going to try to persuade Stupak to drop his efforts to sink healthcare with his anti-choice efforts.

The Congress is a place where we represent our people and where we serve our conscience. I strongly disagree with Bart, I think he’s wrong. But he was my friend. He is my friend. We hunt, we have campaigned together, and I’m going to try and show him the error of his ways. And I’m also going to try and see to it that we beat him on this because this is a matter of the utmost humanitarian and economic concern to this nation.

As of right now, the deal that Stupak made with Pelosi is off–he has postponed his press conference and Henry Waxman and Lynn Woolsey have said there is no deal on abortion.

But that leaves the problem of whip count. If Democrats lose all the people who had signed onto the Stupak deal, then they will have to get the vote of every single remaining fence-sitter to be able to pass the bill.

Which probably means it’s not going to pass unless some of those anti-choice Stupak supporters will flip and vote for health care anyway.

I’ve long said that Dingell would be the most likely person to persuade Stupak to let this pass. Not only is Dingell the living history of efforts to pass health care, he has been a mentor to Stupak over his career. So the man who most wants to pass this bill (from a sense of personal destiny) also has a bit of leverage to persuade Stupak.

What I’d like to see Dingell do–aside from talking to Stupak personally–is call Stupak out on his lies, his utterly false claim that the Nelson language doesn’t already restrict access to choice more than it is restricted now, and that only his language would preserve the intent of the Hyde Amendment.

But that’s simply an out-and-out lie.

Not only do Stupak’s claims about the fungibility of money fall flat (as Rachel explains), but his language would add onerous new barriers to choice for women everywhere.  As a key GWU study shows,

In view of how the health benefit services industry operates and how insurance product design responds to broad regulatory intervention aimed at reshaping product content, we conclude that the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange. As a result, Stupak/Pitts can be expected to move the industry away from current norms of coverage for medically indicated abortions. In combination with the Hyde Amendment, Stupak/Pitts will impose a coverage exclusion for medically indicated abortions on such a widespread basis that the health benefit services industry can be expected to recalibrate product design downward across the board in order to accommodate the exclusion in selected markets.

Now, Stupak can claim he’s simply making a principled stand so long as the media refuses to call him on his lies. But if Dingell called him on it–if Dingell pointed out that this is not a principled stand, but rather an opportunistic effort to exploit a historic moment to attack women’s reproductive rights–then he will not have cover for his actions.

Bart Stupak is not only threatening to kill health insurance reform out of desire to impose his beliefs on women around the country. But he’s doing so using out and out lies.

And it’s time somebody called him on those lies.

CIA Has No Idea What It Briefed Congress on Torture

The CIA documents released in the latest FOIA batch prove that all the claims that CIA (and Crazy Pete Hoekstra) have made about briefings Congress received on torture are, at best, reconstructions based on years old memories, if not outright fabrications.

The documents appear to have been a summary of torture briefings CIA Office of Congressional Affairs put together on July 11, 2004 in anticipation of CIA’s Congressional briefing in July 2004.

The summary shows that:

CIA OCA had not written up the briefings it gave Porter Goss and Jane Harman in February 2003 or the Gang of Four in September 2003 before July 2004. At that time, Moskowitz explained that the “[Memoranda for the Record] for the remainder of the sessions are being finalized.” In fact, the MFR for the February 2003 Goss-Harman briefing was ultimately closed in 2007, after Moskowitz had passed away. Thus, any claims they make about the content of those briefings cannot be said to be accurate.

Also, when putting together a list of briefings, OCA head Stan Moskowitz didn’t even seem to consider the September 2002 briefings (at which Bob Graham said he was not told about torture at all and Nancy Pelosi was told it might be used in the future) to be relevant as a Gang of Four briefing regarding interrogation/detainee issues. Now, it’s possible that Moskowitz was asked to summarize only the possible discussions of the torture tapes (page 11 seems to suggest this pertains to torture tape destruction and no one has ever claimed that CIA briefed on the torture tapes in 2002). Or, it may be that CIA just didn’t consider those the truly sensitive briefings.

The only MFR that OCA seemed to have completed by July 2004 is the February 4, 2003 briefing, at which Pat Roberts apparently unequivocally approved of destroying the torture tapes (and at which he also agreed to end nascent Congressional attempts at oversight). As noted in several places in these documents, Jay Rockefeller did not attend that briefing.

In other words, the claims that CIA had detailed records about what Nancy Pelosi or Jane Harman or Jay Rockefeller said about destroying the torture tapes? They appear to be completely fabricated.

And Now They're Disclaiming Responsibility for their Briefings

Surprise, surprise. Just days after Crazy Pete Hoekstra did what Crazy Pete Hoekstra attacked Nancy Pelosi for last year–accused the CIA of lying–he’s now caught in another position he has criticized Pelosi for–not objecting in a briefing to an Administration policy he subsequently claimed to be vehemently opposed to. On Meet the Press this morning, John Brennan revealed that he briefed the Republican members of the Gang of Eight about the treatment of underwear bomber Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab (this is already an improvement on Bush policy, since they usually only briefed the Gang of Four). And they didn’t raise any objections to the planned treatment of him.

The Obama administration briefed four senior Republican congressional leaders on Christmas about the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight.

White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) did not raise any objections to bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being held in FBI custody.

“They knew that in FBI custody there is a process that you follow. None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at this point,” Brennan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They were very appreciative of the information.”

The Republicans are, predictably, claiming they didn’t know that normal FBI procedure includes mirandizing suspects, claiming that it wasn’t a real briefing–anything to sustain their efforts to politicize national security.

Meanwhile, I’m not holding my breath waiting for the press to call these Republicans on their excuses about the briefing or, more importantly, on their raging hypocrisy. After all, last year the press was able to sustain itself for several months over Crazy Pete’s attack on Nancy Pelosi for this (even while Crazy Pete’s attack was factually wrong). But somehow they seem to lose interest when someone like Crazy Pete gets exposed, for the second time in a week, as a raging hypocrite.

ZOMG! A Congressperson Accuses CIA of Lying to Congress

Picture 189Just take a look at these traitorous accusations a certain Congressperson made about the CIA yesterday:

misleading and some might say lying to Congress by the intel community

The [intelligence] community covered it up,

this committee can’t do its job if you don’t share information with us

What is the community unwilling to share with this committee? What policies can’t pass public scrutiny or pass the scrutiny of this committee?

ZOMG! Congressperson, you just accused the CIA of lying to Congress!! You can’t do that!! Remember what Crazy Pete Hoekstra said about such disloyal accusations when beating up on Nancy Pelosi this spring!

She made some outrageous accusations last week where she said that the CIA lied to her and lied systematically over a period of years. That is a very, very serious charge.

It is downright outrageous that a Congressperson would make such brash accusations. Last spring, Crazy Pete even suggested that making such outrageous accusations might require the Congressperson making such claims resign.

Crazy Pete? Will you please tell Crazy Pete that he should stop making such accusations about CIA lying to Congress?

Or better yet, perhaps you can just admit that CIA has systematically lied to Congress, both about the CIA shoot-down of a missionary plane in Peru, and about torture.

HOEKSTRA:Then just kind of speak for a couple of minutes. I want to kind of change the tone a little bit. And I want to talk about accountability.

I want to talk about the inability of the community to hold itself accountable for its performance. And what I see an increasing — from my perspective, an increasing demonstration that this community is unwilling to be held accountable by — by Congress and this committee.

How do I come to this conclusion?

You know we are coming to a — to a close on a very painful chapter in the intel community, the shoot down of Americans, the death of a mother and a daughter in Peru almost nine years ago. The accountability board has recently finished its work. But if there’s ever an example of justice delayed, justice denied, this is it.

The justice — or the accountability board was impaneled to investigate the wrongful deaths of these two Americans, misleading and some might say lying to Congress by the intel community. Read more

Fred Hiatt Loves Torture

Well, I don’t know that for a fact. But I do know that the publication of Marc Thiessen’s propagandistic claims about Pelosi on the WaPo’s editorial page says more about the WaPo’s editorial page than it does about Pelosi. Let’s start with Thiessen’s primary claim.

According to this 2004 report, Pelosi objected to a CIA plan to provide money to moderate political parties in Iraq ahead of scheduled elections, in an effort to counter Iran, which was funneling millions to extremist elements. “House minority leader Nancy Pelosi ‘came unglued’ when she learned about what a source described as a plan for ‘the CIA to put an operation in place to affect the outcome of the elections,’ ” Time reported. “Pelosi had strong words with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in a phone call about the issue. . . . A senior U.S. official hinted that, under pressure from the Hill, the Administration scaled back its original plans.”

Well, as Thiessen points out himself (and the WaPo even links), David Ignatius has already reported this … in the WaPo! So why would Fred Hiatt feel the need to publish that news again, on his op-ed page?

But Thiessen–and presumably Hiatt–want to repeat this news so they can “prove” that Pelosi had the ability to alter intelligence programs that she didn’t like.

Only there are several problems with Thiessen’s claim. First, the briefings. As we’ve shown over and over and over and over, Pelosi was not briefed that the CIA had already waterboarded Abu Zubaydah during her only briefing on this issue before 2006. And she certainly wasn’t briefed that CIA was going into the torture business before they did so. So it would have been absolutely impossible for her to halt the waterboarding that had already happened, not to mention the planned ones she wasn’t told about. Given the CIA’s (probably deliberate) failure to brief Pelosi in timely fashion, they cannot now, no matter what Dick Cheney tells the former Bush speechwriter to write, claim that Pelosi could have prevented the waterboarding.

And the fact-impaired Thiessen also claims that this letter does not register a protest.

At the briefing you assured us that the [redacted] approved by the Attorney General have been subject to an extensive review by lawyers at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice and the National Security Council and found to be within the law.It is also the case, however, that what was described raises profound policy questions and I am concerned about whether these have been as rigorously examined as the legal questions.

That “I am concerned” about the “profound policy questions,” Thiessen? Those are protests. Protests, of course, that we know the CIA blew off.

So this is a transparently false argument, printed in Fred Hiatt’s premier real estate.

I guess Dick Cheney must be getting worried again about his liability for torture.

Update: minor changes for accuracy.

Congress Reviews the Taxpayers' Investment

One of the biggest stories at the North American International Auto Show yesterday was not the cars, but the congressional delegation — led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — that came to the show. In addition to Pelosi and Hoyer, much of Michigan’s delegation (the only Republican was Fred Upton, though Candice Miller had intended to attend before bad roads got in the way), Ohio Representatives Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton, and Senators Byron Dorgan and Tom Carper attended the show. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis were there, too; and until last Thursday, Obama was planning to attend (until the Secret Service decided it would be a security nightmare).

In other words, there was a big presence of DC bigwigs at the auto show. As Pelosi, in particular, worked her way from the General Motors’ display (she got a close look at the Volt) to the Chrysler to the Ford one (she checked out the new Focus), the media followed along in a big pack, filming her chatting with the CEOs of America’s (and, in the case of GM and Chrysler, the taxpayers’) auto companies. In the YouTube above, she and Hoywer are talking to Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

The crowds and media attention their presence brought tells you something — that DC has been far too distant from America’s industrial base for far too long.

Indeed, some of the DC-MI folks I spoke to pointed out to me that the US car companies have not done a good job at reaching out to the press in recent years, and nor has DC shown much interest in exchange.  The hope was that yesterday’s visit may begin to change all that. (I know GM plans a series of Volt test drives for politicos at the DC auto show later this month.)

And, at the very least, Pelosi has promised to come back next year. Read more

McCain Owes Pelosi an Apology

Back in May, when Nancy Pelosi was pointing out, correctly, that she had not been briefed that the CIA was already in the torture business, John McCain joined the rest of his party in suggesting that Pelosi could have prevented the torture. He suggested that his efforts–he focuses on 2005, ignoring that he basically capitulated on a Nuremberg Defense in the Detainee Treatment Act–were successful in preventing torture.

"Let me just tell you — I was briefed on it — and I vehemently objected to it. We did the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. So we felt, I certainly felt, I could act on it."

He dismissed her claim she was barred from acting on what she learned in the briefings with a shrug.

"I’m sure she has her argument and we’ll see if the American people agree."

Today it’s McCain’s turn to insist he did all he could to prevent torture. In the Time article I cited earlier, McCain is left to insist, futilely, that he complained specifically about the proposed use of sleep deprivation.

An aide to McCain said that in meetings with Hayden and others, McCain raised the story of Orson Swindle, a friend of McCain’s who suffered forced sleep deprivation through stress positions as a captive of the North Vietnamese.

Of course, we now know that between the CIA and Steven Bradbury, the torture apologists were actually using McCain’s name in support of the use of sleep deprivation. Presumably, then, those two detainees with whom sleep deprivation was used in August 2007 and October 2007 were abused in spite of McCain’s complaints. 

Neither of these politicians were heroes in their opposition to torture. But the public record makes it clear that Pelosi measured the Bushies much better than McCain: even opposition like that McCain voiced was turned into support for abuse. 

And its time both the Democrats and the Republicans opposing torture acknowledged that fact, because it’s a key step to holding those responsible for torture accountable. 

The Errors of Telling of Leon Panetta’s Error

By my count there are 27 paragraphs in the Daily Beast’s breathless attempt to un-ring Leon Panetta’s bell for him–to tell a story in which Panetta’s revelation that the CIA had an assassination program it had not briefed Congress on was all a big misunderstanding. It takes novelist Joseph Finder, who wrote this story, until paragraph 23 to reveal the context of HPSCI’s reaction to Panetta’s briefing on the program that hadn’t previously been briefed.

More seriously, this controversy has given ammunition to congressional efforts to broaden CIA briefings. Instead of allowing the CIA to limit disclosure of the most sensitive, most highly classified stuff to just the “Gang of Eight”—the leaders of those committees and of the House and Senate—they want to require the CIA to brief the full membership of the intelligence committees.

Somehow, Finder neglects to provide his readers that information where it chronologically makes sense–between the time Panetta briefed Congress on June 24 …

On June 23, in the course of a routine briefing by the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Panetta first learned about the assassination squads. Alarmed, he terminated the program at once and called the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX). He told Reyes he’d discovered something of grave concern, and requested an urgent briefing for the House and Senate intelligence committees as soon as possible. Less than 24 hours later, he was on the Hill, "with his hair on fire," as a Republican member of the House committee put it. “The whole committee was stunned,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA).

And when he describes them leaking the letter and turning this into a big stink.

Afterward, seven Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee sent Panetta an indignant letter: “Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. They demanded he “correct” his statement back in May that the CIA does not mislead Congress.

Ten days later, one of them leaked the letter.

That is, Finder totally neglects to mention the full chronology, which looks something like this:

June 24: Panetta’s briefing on this program

June 26: HPSCI passes a funding authorization report expanding the Gang of Eight briefings

Read more

Questions and Answers about Beginning of Domestic Spying Program

The other day I noted that the Bush Administration seemed to have been using the 15-day exemption included in FISA to conduct domestic surveillance before the formal start date of the program.

There were several things going on at once (see this post for more detail). There was some debate about the AUMF–but that got signed on September 18. There were initial discussions about the PATRIOT Act–including how FISA should be altered in it. There was a briefing of HPSCI on October 1 that–Nancy Pelosi understood–was part of expanded NSA authorities. And–according to Barton Gellman–the warrantless wiretap program was approved on October 4, 2001, and it began on October 6, 2001.

In other words, the program was formally approved on the 16th day after the AUMF. 

But at least according to Nancy Pelosi, Congress was briefed on ongoing underlying activities as early as October 1. 

Meaning, the Bush Administration was already using those expanded authorities–but they were doing so by exploiting the 15-day exemption written into FISA!

Since then, I’ve tried to confirm that assertion, but the picture has only gotten muddier. There are two sets of conflicting data surrounding:

  • Program start date
  • OLC memo dates

James Bamford’s Shadow Factory and Eric Lichtblau’s reporting have some answers, but answers that raise a new set of questions. So here are some answers and more questions about the beginning of the domestic spying program.

Program Start Date

The IG Report explains the beginning of what it calls the Presidential Surveillance Program this way:

In the days immediately after September 11, 2001, the NSA used its existing authorities to gather intelligence information in response to the terrorist attacks. When Director of Central Intelligence Tenet, on behalf of the White House, asked NSA Director Hayden whether the NSA could do more against terrorism, Hayden replied that nothing more could be done within existing authorities. When asked what he might do with more authority, Hayden said he put together information on what was operationally useful and technologically feasible. This information formed the basis of the PSP.

Shortly thereafter, the President authorized the NSA to undertake a number of new, highly classified intelligence activities. All of these activities were authorized in a single Presidential Authorization that was periodically reauthorized.

So, in the days immediately after 9/11, Hayden used "existing authorities" to gather intelligence information. Then Tenet asked Hayden what more he could do, and he said he needed more authorities. "Shortly thereafter,"  Bush granted authorities covering a range of activities. Read more