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Scooter Libby/Plame Leak Figure, Robert Grenier Offers Questionable Pushback to Torture Report

____ Robert L. Grenier is a longtime CIA officer who served as the CIA's top counter-terrorism official (2004-2006) and was fired from that position by CIA director Porter Goss. (Wiki) Later, Grenier joined Kroll, Inc., as Managing Director. In 2009 he was appointed Chairman of ERG Partners, an independent financial and strategic advisory firm focusing on the security and intelligence sectors . . .

The London Sunday Times reported (way back when) that Grenier lost his job with the CIA "because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as 'water boarding'.

In early 2006, Grenier was identified in court documents in connection with the ongoing CIA leak grand jury investigation and charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Grenier told Libby on June 11, 2003, one month before the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity, that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in arranging Wilson's 2002 trip to Niger. Libby claims to have forgotten about the conversation.

On January 24, 2006, Grenier testified in the trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, telling jurors Lewis Libby asked him for information about Joseph Wilson's investigatory trip to Niger on June 11, 2003, and that he reported back to Libby about Wilson's wife's involvement in the trip, as well as Wilson's wife's employment by the CIA, later on June 11. Grenier did not, however, mention Plame's name to Libby, which appeared in a column by Robert Novak a month later.more


Today, apparently, Grenier is taking on the task of pushback to the Senate torture report . . . Marcy Wheeler ( is her handle on her excellent blog), who closely followed the Scooter Libby trial and was a reliable set of eyes and ears for many locked out of the hearing, has offered her view of Grenier's efforts:

emptywheel ‏@emptywheel 54m
Folks, 1st 1,000 words of Grenier's piece are lies. But well worth reading the last 1,000 -- read my post for why: http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/08/11/cias-torture-pushback-gets-more-artful/

August 11, 2014 | By emptywheel

____ I well remember when Robert Grenier testified at Scooter Libby’s trial. His performance — and it, like most of the witness testimony — was a performance. But I was more intrigued by the response. Even the cynical old DC journalists were impressed by the smoothness of the performance. “You can tell he was a great briefer,” one journalist who had written a book on the CIA said.

Today, he takes up the role of bogus pushback to the Senate torture report, complete with all the false claims about the report, including:

--SSCI should not have relied exclusively on documents — which, if true, is an admission that millions of CIA’s cables are fraudulent and false
--The claim that members of the Gang of Four were briefed earlier and more accurately than even CIA’s own documents show them to have been
--SSCI — and not CIA — made the decision that CIA officers should not testify to the committee
--That a report supported by John McCain and Susan Collins is a Democratic report (Grenier also claims all involved with it know history from history books, not — as McCain did — from torture chambers)
--That the CIA cables exactly matched the torture depicted on the torture tapes (see bullet 1!), and that CIA’s IG reported that, both of which are false

But perhaps Grenier’s most cynical assertion is his claim — in a piece that falsely suggests (though does not claim outright) that Congress was adequately briefed that Congress’ job, their sole job, is to legislate, not oversee.

A second, related reason would be to build support for comprehensive legislation — that is what Congress is supposed to concern itself with, after all — to remove any of the interpretive legal ambiguity which permitted coercive interrogation to be considered in the first place, and ensure it never happens again.

It is a cynical move, but given the rest of his argument, the part that I find compelling, necessary.

Because Grenier warns Dianne Feinstein that her attack on the Presidentially authorized counterterrorism methods of the past will chill President Obama’s preferred presidentially authorized counterterrorism methods — drone strikes — going forward . . .

I told you CIA would invoke Obama’s drone strikes to limit the damage of the torture report . . .

Grenier then launches a more interesting implicit threat — that CIA will stop doing what the President demands under Article II (authority to fight ISIS covertly). . .


please read more (I'd post more of this here if I thought it was proper): http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/08/11/cias-torture-pushback-gets-more-artful/

. . . what Marcy Wheeler is describing contains so much nuance and knowledge that I'm not sure can be translated effectively into some pat defense or opposition to whatever we want to oppose about the administration's efforts in handling the Senate investigation and report.

It's a clear and good analysis of some of the mind-numbing details surrounding the torture report which will scatter advocates and opponents alike in all sorts of directions; likely that dissonance is someone's deliberate design. At any rate, this is a fascinating read by Marcy which I heartily recommend and am grateful to emptywheel for an interesting and compelling account of this one pushback on the Senate torture investigation findings for anyone interested in this report's release and process of eventual accountability.

Just who is in charge of the political process in Iraq - Iraqis or the Obama administration??

The Guardian ‏@guardian 33m
US slaps down Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki after he accuses president: http://gu.com/p/4vjf8

The United States has thrown its weight behind Iraqi president Fuad Masum after he was accused by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of violating the constitution.

As security forces massed in the capital Baghdad, the under-pressure Maliki made the surprise announcement on state television on Sunday night that he would be filing a complaint against Masum.

“I will submit today an official complaint to the federal court against the president of the Republic for committing a clear constitutional violation for the sake of political calculations,” said Maliki.

But US state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement: “The United States fully supports president Fuad Masum in his role as guarantor of the Iraqi constitution.

“We reaffirm our support for a process to select a prime minister who can represent the aspirations of the Iraqi people by building a national consensus and governing in an inclusive manner,” she said, echoing an earlier comment made on Twitter by deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs Brett McGurk.

“We reject any effort to achieve outcomes through coercion or manipulation of the constitutional or judicial process.”

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/us-iraqi-maliki-accuses-president


____ How does the United States get to claim some high ground in their manipulation of the Iraqi political process; claiming they know better what the 'consensus' of Iraqis is than the Iraqis do themselves? They can dictate the process just by virtue of this deployment of our military and still accuse Iraqis themselves of 'manipulation?

What right does the U.S. have to dictate the political process of a sovereign government in Iraq? How is a lawsuit in the Iraqi courts 'manipulation?' How is the U.S. military action and insistence not 'coersion?' It's Orwellian, in the extreme.

What the U.S. really wants is capitulation by the Maliki regime to the wishes of the U.S. occupiers who have their warships and planes poised to strike wherever and whenever they please in Iraq. It's no wonder there's strong and active resistance among many Iraqis to U.S. involvement.

One moment we're enabling Maliki into power by way of a devastating military occupation - the next, we're demanding that autocrat's removal behind the renewed force of our re-occupying, threatening military. Where's the democratic process behind all of that? How is demanding that Maliki just step down respecting the Iraqi democratic process?

This is a outrageous display of U.S. imperialism.

The President's ability to wage limited war appears almost unlimited. . . and then some

My wife and I were shaking our heads (up until dawn) about the almost utter futility in stopping a president from waging the type of limited airstrikes that President Obama has authorized in Iraq, not only to defend Kurdish civilians besieged in the mountains, but also for the other defenses he outlined in his order.

Outside of the protection and humanitarian defense of the Yazidi sect, President Obama has also defined the defense of our military deployments in Baghdad and Irbil as areas where he intends to utilize airstrikes, if he deems necessary. The targets he's defined are the insurgent combatants known as ISIS, or ISIL.

I take the view that the U.S. has forfeited our moral authority to wage war in Iraq by our previous conduct there with the opportunistic and devastating military misadventure Bush perpetrated which ran roughshod over our own constitution and over the rights and safety of Iraqis, as well.

To many Iraqis subject to our bombs and airstrikes launched from planes, warships, or drones, they are scarcely less pernicious or dangerous than the violence from any insurgent group attacking them. I'll certainly allow that our nation's violence exercised there under President Obama is demonstratively or likely less devastating to the general population than Bush's violent attacks; or than the current combatant insurgents featured in his justifications for deploying troops. However, in their counterproductive nature - fostering and fueling even more resistant violence in response - I believe that's a matter of degree, but not effect.

I've been mulling over ways in which someone in America who shares my concerns would be able to, collectively, of course, in our legislative system, prevent the President from launching the types of limited airstrikes that he's outlined in Iraq. I've concluded that it's almost impossible.

The authority the President, as commander-in-chief has in his reach to wage limited war (which, by most definitions would cover airstrikes) is effectively unchecked. Even if Congress specifically prohibited a president from initiating such attacks, a president could advantage his actions with authorization gleaned from several different authorities.

First, observe that whatever authority President Obama is considering in his re-deployment of troops into Iraq; more importantly, his order for airstrikes to defend American positions and personnel in Baghdad, Irbil, and in defense of the besieged Kurdish civilians, is an amorphous and shifting affair.

The initial deployment of troops could be justified, as he did, as protection of embassy personnel. It gets trickier when defining the goal of military 'advisers' and their support troops, but that action could be authorized under a broad and certainly expansive reading of the original Iraq AUMF; or under the nebulous and autocratic declaration of our 'national security interest which can be either a short term concern or a long-term one which is speculative and subjective to whatever view there is of a future threat.

There isn't any argument that the President has the ability and need to protect and defend American military and civilian personnel he's inserted into Iraq. There's certainly room to argue that defense of troops deployed is a self-serving, self-perpetuating rationale, but there's no doubt that he has that authority.

It gets a bit more complicated when considering the actions of military advisers who he's ordered to help Iraqi forces direct attacks against whoever they deem a threat to Iraqi or U.S. interests in the country. The authority for that military deployment and activity could come from a number of Bush-era authorizations to war in Iraq, and elsewhere, which haven't expired or been voted out of existence by Congress; most notably, Bush's use of force authorization specific to Iraq which is still in effect.

Or, that authority could be drawn from the nebulous 'national security' concern I described above. At any rate, President Obama really hasn't spelled any of that authority out for Americans, or our legislature to measure or approve.

from June 12 Roll Call:

When asked about getting Congress’s permission to take action, (WH spokesman) Carney was noncommittal.

“We are in active consultation with members of Congress,” he said.

He demurred when asked directly about the 2002 authorization to use military force (AUMF). An administration spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told Yahoo’s Olivier Knox in January “the administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF.”

Hayden emailed CQ Roll Call late Thursday and to reiterate that what she said then remains in effect.

She declined to comment on what authority Obama would have to act if he decided to launch a strike.


Roll Call again, June 18:

Pres. Obama met for about an hour in the Oval Office with McConnell, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Pelosi told reporters that she agreed that the president has all of the authorities that he needs in the authorizations to use military force passed by Congress previously.

“All of the authorities are there. That doesn’t mean I want all of them to be used, especially boots on the ground,” she said. “But I definitely think the president has all of the authority he needs by dint of legislation that was passed in 2001 and 2003.”

She appeared to be referring to the authorizations to use military force passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq. Neither of those authorizations have expired, although the official White House position is that the Iraq authorization should be repealed.


It's a bit slippery for the president to give lip service to the idea of repealing an authorization to war that he may well be advantaging authority from in Iraq. Still, he actually has as much authority to wage war as Congress allows, so it's fair enough to take that position.

Still, even though a formal declaration hasn't been made, the administration does appear to be leaning to the CIC defense of their authority to launch strikes.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, August 08, 2014:

"As to the domestic legal basis, we believe the President has the authority under the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief to direct these actions, which are consistent with this responsibility to protect U.S. citizens and to further U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Specifically, the protection of U.S. personnel and facilities is among his highest responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief, and given the threats that we see on the periphery of Erbil, he has authorized the use of targeted military action."

"Similarly, we believe that there is an urgent humanitarian challenge that further poses a threat to U.S. interests. As I said this rises to the level of a potential act of genocide when you have an entire group of people being targeted for killing, and you have a population of the size that is on Mount Sinjar that is threatened with starvation as one option, or, as the President said, coming down that mountain and potentially being massacred by ISIL."

"If we do end up taking airstrikes, we would have to do a War Powers report consistent with how we respond when the United States is engaged in hostilities. So we have been consulting Congress for the last several weeks about Iraq, generally. And then throughout the day today we were able to reach a good number of members and leaders of Congress to advise them of our thinking and then of the President’s decision. And again, if there are airstrikes taken, we will comply with our responsibility to file a War Powers report."


In the case of limited war, or limited airstrikes as President Obama has ordered in Iraq, his authority, as commander-in-chief, appears unlimited.

If he relies on the Bush-era authorizations already in place - the one specific to Iraq, and others related to the broader 'war on terror' - in a legal sense, his actions never need be scrutinized by Congress for approval or disapproval.

If he relies on his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief - albeit under the War Powers Resolution enacted by Congress in 1973 and intended as a limiter on a president's ability to wage war without Congress' approval; passed in response to Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia - he has, at his disposal, demonstrated and historically upheld, broad powers to wage limited airstrikes without any weighing in from Congress at all.

Under the WPR, under Article Two of that act, "in the absence of a declaration of war, the president must report to Congress within 48 hours of introducing armed forces into such circumstances and must terminate the use of U.S. armed forces within 60 days unless Congress permits otherwise."

That provides more than enough opportunity for a president to launch the types of airstrikes President Obama has ordered in Iraq without relying on any of the Bush-era documents; with virtual impunity.

I'm obviously dismayed that there doesn't seem to be a lever for the public, or for our elected representatives and senators, to automatically or quickly restrain any president from warring on a limited basis. I'm certainly dismayed over our ability to legally or legislatively restrain President Obama from waging limited war, or otherwise, in Iraq.

That's the way it goes. Notwithstanding a major uprising by Americans in opposition, it's highly unlikely that there's anything that can or will be done to actually cause President Obama to limit or halt his military ambitions in Iraq.

I believe that, no matter what one's view of his actions are there, it should be a concern just how easily a president is able to wield the devastating force of our military abroad. So much for trying to figure a way out of this mess.

What are the limits on President Obama's ability to order direct military action in Iraq?

. . . there aren't really any, are there, beyond Congress stepping in and cancelling the original AUMF?

After all, President Obama, even the ranking Democrat in Congress, Rep. Pelosi, has claimed he has all the authority he needs in that 2002 authorization.

Why do we tolerate allowing the President of the United States to advantage his military ambitions off of a stale, open-ended AUMF? Bush's AUMF, at that . . . the one we opposed with marches and protests.

How would progressives feel with a republican president holding that open-ended authority? That could be our future.

Now that folks supported direct U.S. strikes for this humanitarian cause in Iraq... Are they all-in?

. . . will there ever come a point where our military action will be unjustified in the minds of supporters of these 'targeted strikes?' How effective will protests against wider, direct military action be, now that folks have signed on to airstrikes in support of this one humanitarian cause?

Will support for airstrikes for this 'humanitarian' reason transfer or continue beyond the defense of this one mass of civilians besieged on the mountain?

We know that our military's mission in Iraq, originally using this particular insurgency as justification for the reintroduction of troops into Iraq, isn't limited to this one humanitarian defense. Will supporters of this humanitarian/military action be willing now, to approve airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL in other areas of Iraq which aren't strictly defenses of Kurdish civilians?

The President also mentioned defense of Baghdad as an area where he's authorizing airstrikes. Are supporters of this humanitarian action all-in with any and all direct U.S. strikes against this insurgent group, anywhere in Iraq or elsewhere?

Are you effectively hooked? If not, do you think there can still be an effective protest against a wider air war in Iraq; direct military action wherever ISIS/ISIL threatens?


We Break the World. . . Help Repair It

We Break the World. . . Help Repair It

To thee old cause!
Thou peerless, passionate, good cause,
Thou stern, remorseless, sweet idea,
Deathless throughout the ages, races, lands,
After a strange sad war, great war for thee,
(I think all war through time was really fought, and ever will be really fought, for thee,)
These chants for thee, the eternal march of thee.


- Walt Whitman, from 'Leaves of Grass' To Thee Old Cause (1871; 1881)


We used to understand, progressives here and elsewhere who are glossing this U.S. military response to the humanitarian crisis atop that mountain in northern Iraq. Glossing over the fact we should know well, that our military presence and action in Iraq is an irresistible lure for individuals looking to do battle with America; in this case, individuals who view America as an enemy of their religion.

What doesn't seem to be understood by progressives here who are rightly concerned about the safety of the Kurdish civilians is that the U.S. military attacks - our country's military presence and activities - are ultimately counterproductive to the goals of eliminating any threat that comes from the fundamentalist groups fomenting violence in Iraq - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Opposition to U.S. military action in Iraq goes deeper than just advocating non-violence, which is likely not the solution to protecting the Kurdish men, women, and children trapped and besieged where they fled by the self-identified Islamic insurgents. It's an opposition to exactly the same 'dumb-war' behavior that President Obama correctly described early in his presidency. It's the misguided notion that the U.S. is indispensable in these matters.

It's the twisted logic that 'we broke it,' therefore, we have to fix it. Except, fixing it means to this administration and military - as it meant to the Bush administration and military - fomenting even more violence in the vain and hopeless aim of ending it.

It's not a matter of just leaving these people to die, as many describe the position of opponents of U.S. military intervention - other nations are more suited to help them and we should use our energy and whatever influence we have to encourage them.

It's about the realization that our country, having already broken the country with our destabilizing, destructive, and opportunistic war waged for greed and petty political purposes, can scarcely hope to repair it using the same destabilizing and destructive violence.

As Bush's own spy agencies correctly cautioned in their 2006 intelligence estimate, our military activity in Iraq had the effect of fostering and fueling even more individuals bent on violent resistance to U.S., our allies, and our interests, than they were able to put down.

It should be no surprise at all to see the report today from this President's intelligence agencies that our military presence and activity in Iraq - however altruistic the mission - is having the exact same effect of drawing more individuals looking to do battle with our nation, from around the globe, to rally to this emerging insurgent group's deadly cause.

Our nation has, years ago in our invasion and occupation in Iraq, forfeited any moral authority we may believe we have which would distinguish in the minds of many Iraqis - and many individuals around the world who associate their religion with the twisted and contradictory fundamentalism promoted by groups like ISIS/ISIL or al-Qaeda - the killing and atrocities of this insurgent group from our own vigilantist, or charitable violence.

We may well feel this is our fight, or our responsibility to step in and rescue the Kurdish civilians, but we are unable to do so without fomenting even more reprisals against them and even more bloodshed among them after we've landed our warplanes and steered our combat carriers toward home.

There's nothing at all charitable or altruistic in any of that.

I'm watching a film with Edward Norton, 'Leaves of Grass' about a pot grower and his mostly innocent twin brother who killed a rival and others with the aim of putting past problems to rest and moving on to a drug and violence-free life with his expectant wife - setting off a chain of violence which ended in his own death and several others; along with the near-death of his innocent twin.

In one scene, the innocent twin went to the Rabbi of the man his brother had killed to tell her that it wasn't a hate crime, as his brother had made him promise to as he was laying on the ground dying from a gunshot wound.

The rabbi asked him if that was all he wanted to say and the innocent brother asked her, why, why do we . . . ?

"Because we're animals," the woman Rabbi answered, and our brains trick us into thinking we're not . . . We break the world." she said. "Help repair it."

I can't think of anything more concise or profound to say about our country's actions than that.

We break the world. . . help repair it.

We break the world. . . help repair it.


Whitman's poem continuing. . .

(A war O soldiers not for itself alone,
Far, far more stood silently waiting behind, now to advance in this book.)

Thou orb of many orbs!
Thou seething principle! thou well-kept, latent germ! thou centre!
Around the idea of thee the war revolving,
With all its angry and vehement play of causes,
(With vast results to come for thrice a thousand years,)
These recitatives for thee,--my book and the war are one,
Merged in its spirit I and mine, as the contest hinged on thee,
As a wheel on its axis turns, this book unwitting to itself,
Around the idea of thee.

Just a Smidgen More U.S. Military Force in Iraq


Production for use . . .that's what a gun's for Earl, to shoot, of course! Maybe that's why you used it -- Yes, I think you're right. That's what a gun's for isn't it? Production for use! There's nothing crazy about that is it? - Star reporter Hildy Johnson interviews convict in ' His Girl Friday', 1940


I'm reminded of this surreal scene from Howard Hawk's movie production whenever our government makes reflexive moves toward war - the scene where the newspaper's lead reporter is rationalizing responsibility away from the hapless killer and putting the finger on the gun manufacturer for responsibility for his violence.

I'm listening to President Obama address Americans underneath a portrait of Lincoln explaining that he's ordered the military forces he's sent to Iraq to strike targets if the rebel forces called ISIL move toward the city of Irbil where U.S. personnel are based.

This order represents a clear escalation from the original mission described by the commander-in-chief which was the protection of U.S. embassy personnel and the insertion of military 'advisers' to help the Iraqi military direct attacks against the insurgent forces in defense of the embattled Maliki regime.

Declaring that, "Today America is coming to help," President Obama, nonetheless insisted that, "I will not allow America to be dragged into another war in Iraq."

Despite the fact that it was the President's decision to introduce U.S troops back into Iraq in June as a stopgap measure, he wrapped his decision tonight to significantly escalate our military involvement there as a defense of U.S. personnel, saying, “When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. That is my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief.”

In June, as he ordered additional troops to Iraq to join the several hundred he had already sent under the auspices of protecting U.S. embassy personnel, Pres. Obama cautioned (presumably himself) that, "We always have to guard against mission creep . . . American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again," he told Americans at the time.

That admonition against mission creep from the President may have seemed to some a remote possibility when he declared it in June; now, on the eve of his order for U.S. forces to defend the Americans he chose to place in harm's way in Iraq, that promise appears as hollow as the expectation most Americans have had for most of his term that his decision to pull all troops out represented a complete end to the Iraq war (certainly to those who voted for him in the expectation he'd end U.S. military involvement there).

Although the President and the State Dept., tonight, justified his order of military action as a protection against genocide - as a protection of the Yazidi minority who are besieged outside of the city of Sinjar - that's not the substance of the order he described which is little more than a defense of the U.S. troops he's inserted into the middle of Iraq's civil war.

"To stop the advance on Irbil," he said, "I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Irbil and our embassy in Baghdad."

Earlier, before his address to the nation, the president was said to be 'weighing' a decision between humanitarian airdrops of food and supplies and airstrikes. The President chose both.

This deployment and defense of that deployment is the same form of protection scheme that George Bush used to justify keeping our military bogged down in Iraq for years in a self-actualizing, self-perpetuating defense of his own prerogatives there; and as a defense of the U.S. enabled Iraqi regime. This is little more than that.

I'll attest to our moral obligation to assist civilians in danger. I wonder, though about other times when our government doesn't seem to give a damn about civilian deaths and it makes these defenses offered as justification for escalated militarism in Iraq seem opportunistic to our government's present ambitions there - why we provide weapons to one occupying military force (Israel) who is operating it's own militarism with blatant disregard for civilian lives (Palestenians) in the way of their guns and missiles?

The weapons we're attacking today, in the hands of the ISIS/ISIL insurgents are the same weapons we provided the Sunnis who's ranks were recruited into this rebel band of combatants. Many more that the airstrikes seek to destroy are remnants of the weapons we supplied members of the Iraqi forces that we spent countless millions training and arming.

I wonder why Iraqis can't be counted on to defend these besieged civilians in question; why we resist Iranians from providing military assistance we say is necessary; why did we introduce our troops there after Russia began supplying warplanes and fighters; is our opposition to anything the Syrian government does behind our resistance against Syrian forces defending against the very same threats in Northern Iraq that the President ordered defenses against tonight, against the same ISIS forces Syria is defending against in their own country?

I'll attest to the apparent and relatively new attitude of restraint from the White House following the period where more troops were sacrificed in Afghanistan defending the Karsai regime by Pres. Obama than Bush lost defending 9-11; acknowledge an apparently new attitude of restraint since the height of his use of the often indiscriminate and extra-judicial targeting of weaponized drones (which he still assumes authority to launch).

In Yemen, the Sudan, Libya, and even Syria, the president has demonstrated a new doctrine of sorts which emphasizes diplomatic and international efforts - buttressed by the big stick threat of a declaration, made several times by President Obama, that he holds the power to unilaterally commit military force or forces abroad without initial congressional approval.

Throughout the facedown and resolution of the question of chemical weapons in Syria, the president maintained that, through his own interpretation of a threat to the U.S. or our interests, he has the authority - notwithstanding his reluctance and fortunate diplomacy led by a Russian initiative - to unilaterally initiate attacks and deploy troops when he saw fit.

The House passed a resolution July 25 on Iraq with a strong bipartisan vote of 370-40 to require the President to come to Congress before authorizing new combat in Iraq, but for now, even though he did consult key members of Congress today, Obama believes he has authority to initiate attacks on his own.

That determination of assumed authority was backed up by the top Democrat in the House in June. “All of the authorities are there, Rep. Pelosi said after the President met with a bipartisan delegation in the Oval Office.

"That doesn’t mean I want all of them to be used, especially boots on the ground,” she said. “But I definitely think the president has all of the authority he needs by dint of legislation that was passed in 2001 and 2003.”

It's a similar argument that he uses in 'leaving his options open' on initiating attacks in Iraq - not withstanding any stated intention of his to refrain from such action - President Obama has insisted that he has all the authority he needs to initiate airstrikes; even introduce troops, if he sees fit.

The retention of that assumed authority is a loaded gun just waiting for an excuse or reason to use it. Production for use.

What happens if our military advisers trigger a deepening or intensifying of the Iraq sectarian conflict? The introduction of that element of violence is a pretext to use it, as well as a trigger to the need for even deeper involvement. It's also a pretext for future presidents to use this commander-in-chief's justifications for war as their own.

However efficient and practical it may seem to provide only a smidge of violence in helping direct attacks in Iraq against Iraqis - now ordering our own troops to conduct those attacks - however efficient and logical it may seem to give rebels weapons to carry out the political missions Americans certainly aren't willing to sacrifice lives for - there are real and tragic consequences on the ground.

800 US troops to Iraq, 4,000 Hellfire missiles, Apache helicopters, drones . . . all of these weapons re-introduced into the country we withdrew from portended to everyone looking on that the President's insistence that his order didn't represent escalation was either a naive promise, or an outright deception.

Shoveling more weapons into Iraq only gives the U.S. political mercenaries the illusion of clean hands, but we are the merchants of those misdeeds of Congress and the White House. Who are we arming? Who will they be killing? Where does the violence end?

One of the ironies since that withdrawal from Iraq has been the degree our government's hawkishness has increased with a myriad of justifications to war - maybe not the unbridled military imperialism of the Bush-era, but threatening measures designed to frighten our adversaries away from their own military conquests; their sectarian violence fueled and inflamed by the seemingly deliberate vacuum created out of our own disruptive, self-serving military meddling.

Indeed, Barack Obama, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, actually used that occasion which celebrated peace to lay down justifications for war; 'Just Wars' he called them. The new president wrapped his militarism in a blanket of history in his acceptance speech in Oslo. He spoke with the detachment of a professor lecturing students about a "living testimony" to the "moral force" of the teachings of King and Gandhi who just happened to be commander-in-chief over dual, bloody occupations.

War and peace, in Mr. Obama's presentation, were inseparably intertwined throughout history with America rising above it all - virtuous and correct in the flexing of our military muscle abroad in this age, because of our righteousness in the defining wars we waged with our allies against the Third Reich and Japan. That American virtue, in Mr. Obama's estimation, made evident by our leadership in setting the terms of international patronage, diplomacy, and 'just' war.

Mr. Obama began his speech by attempting to rationalize the obvious contradiction of a wartime president accepting a 'peace' prize. He downplayed the occupation in Iraq he had prolonged, distanced himself from the one he intended to redefine and escalate in Afghanistan, and declared himself responsible for, and "filled with questions" surrounding his sending of 'young Americans' to fight and die abroad.

"Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize," he told the committee," is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 43 other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other."


The president acknowledged civil, ethnic, and sectarian conflicts around the world, which he observed are on the rise, without mention of our own nation's part in fueling, funding, and deliberately or clumsily exacerbating many of those into perpetuity.

In Iraq, the war that the president insisted at the time was 'winding down', our nation's invasion and overthrow of the sovereign government was the catalyst to the chaos and civil and sectarian unrest and violence. Our military forces' inability to stifle or eliminate the killings there, despite our "surged-up", lingering occupation was a less than ringing endorsement of some inherent wisdom behind the opportunistic exercise of our dominating, devastating military forces abroad.

I'm old enough to remember when all of Bush's intelligence agencies reported that our military forces and military action in Iraq was having the effect of creating more 'terrorists' than we were putting down. His administration's 2006 National Intelligence Estimate said the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was actually fueling terrorism, not ending it; his Iraq war creating an even worse threat to the U.S. and our interests and allies.

The president admitted his own lack of a 'definitive solution' to it all in his Norway speech. Absent a definitive solution, the president said, we must be prepared to act when we feel that war is 'justified'.

"A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale," he said.

"Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts, the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies and failed states have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed and children scarred."

"I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

"We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified."


It's obvious what the president was alluding to. There aren't many who would question America's pursuit of justice in the wake of the 9-11 plane crashes. Chasing bin-Laden and his cohorts into Afghanistan, and the rout of his Taliban accomplices to Pakistan was a reasonable response to most looking on.

The prevention of genocide, as the president couched today's order for airstrikes in Iraq, is certainly a noble and understandable goal. Yet, there's a nagging question of how much of the president's militarism today in Afghanistan, or now in Iraq, can be justified as part and parcel of anything one might believe was worthwhile in Bush's original pursuit; or even integral to some defense of our national security as defined in the original authorizations to use military force.

The emerging practice from politicians in Washington is to construct mechanisms of preemptive aggression in the vain hope of keeping war at bay. Is there anything more delusional than fomenting war to prevent war? Production for use.

That 'ambivalence' to military action the president represented as universal to any conflict, is fiction; at least in America. Our nation's citizens didn't start out ambivalent to chasing bin-Laden into Afghanistan. They became ambivalent when that effort was distorted into opportunistic nation-building - all the while with the fugitive terror suspects that were at the heart and soul of the military mission left free to instigate and motivate violent resistance against our nation's strident military presence and activity across sovereign borders, mostly by the virtue of their seemingly deliberate freedom from justice.

The nation became ambivalent when those occupations, in turn, were escalated to advantage the politics behind propped-up regimes. The suspicion of America's military force abroad was born in the 'extraordinary renditions' by our military and intelligence agencies; and in the indefinite imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans without charges or counsel - many held and tortured as in Gitmo - many tortured and disappeared in 'black sites' in compliant nations. Many are just as suspicious of this president's escalation of force in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

We've been told by the administration and the military that there are relatively few individuals thought to be in Afghanistan or Iraq who are al-Qaeda; now that threat they percieve taking the form of a new 'enemy called ISIS. Yet the U.S. military aggression in defense of regimes we helped ascend to power in corrupt elections is directed against an entirely different enemy who is operating against the U.S. 'interest' in our maintaining ethically-challenged regimes in dominance over the very people we pretend to be defending.

At the end of his address, the president quoted Martin Luther King Jr.'s remarks in his own Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. . .

As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago: "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him . . . We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace . . .

It's understandable that President Obama would want to justify his own duplicity between his stated ideals against 'dumb wars' with a declaration of a pursuit of peace behind his own exercise of military force; or as a defense against what he correctly terms genocide against this (relatively) newly recognized faction of combatants threatening a newly recognized faction of civilians in Iraq.

Yet, King's answer to the dilemma the president faces was non-violence. His own acceptance speech was a promotion of peace and love, not a litany of excuses for militarism.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy," King said in 1967. "Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

And, so it goes.

In the future, schoolchildren and other visitors will read these words with awe and wonder

. . . as well as with regret for the opportunity lost. (my prediction)



Geysar Gurbanov ‏@geysar 3m
Saw this today at #Boston @museumofscience #WaterCrisis #Water #Environment #Awareness #Quote

What is the point in a multi-year investigation of torture practices of the Bush administration?

WHAT'S the point in engaging in a multi-year long investigation into the torture policy and practice of the Bush-era 'terror war' if it's not intended to produce some consequence or material accountability for offenders?

Is it merely an informational document? Did we really need an investigation costing millions of dollars and man-hours just to tell us that these practices are wrong?

Well, the answer to the second question of mine is, likely yes, Americans probably do need to see and hear the extent of abuses with their own eyes and ears in order for them to get up enough gumption to persuade our legislators to finally act to outlaw them. The stark and disturbing realities of those practices and policies may well go a long way in convincing the public to pressure their elected officials to finally act to criminalize the behaviors and policies.

Moreover, if there's some way of demonstrating the counterproductive and ineffective result of these actions taken by Bush-era interrogators, then these documents will serve a useful and lasting purpose.

However, merely releasing these findings of the Senate investigatory committee without immediately calling for and insisting on some sort of congressional action to legislate the practices and policies out of existence will amount to nothing more than a self-aggrandizing effort which will only serve opportunists and demagogues alike in their cynical recitation of the occurrences revealed for whatever hollow purpose they devise.

We need to be alert to the way the executive summary is crafted and presented to the American people. That summary is all that the White House and the Senate intends for the public to see. That's why the manner in which it's crafted -what's left in, what's taken out - is so critical to whatever we hope to achieve by the effort.

We also need to remain cognizant of what the prospect for congressional action on these issues currently is. There isn't a ready quorum of politicians poised to push through relevant and meaningful legislation in the present Congress regarding torture. Perhaps the report will motivate our legislators to action. Perhaps the committee investigation's findings can be perpetuated in upcoming campaigns and the banner of reform taken up and carried into office by a new breed of elected officials.

Barring that eventuality, the most effective route to ensuring that these practices aren't repeated by a new presidency hostile to the executive directive President Obama put in place early in his term outlawing many of the torture practices -overturning his order with a flick of their pen - is to push for a renewed effort to actually prosecute someone for the offenses uncovered in the report.

I know that people will tell us that is a long-shot; and they will claim that is unrealistic, given the limits of the law and given the limited will of even this Democratic-appointed Justice Dept.. Historically, justice has been shown to possess a long memory, yet it is only as determined and sure as the intensity of our political activism and advocacy dictates.

We will need to be vigilant to ensure that the release of whatever information the politicians, and the cronies who are actively working to limit whatever the public eventually sees, is the product of something more meaningful than fodder for blistering news accounts and editorials. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Why are former Bush CIA heads welcome working closely with Obama's CIA to rebut torture report?

We have a new administration which has already asserted itself in the torture debate by moving ahead of Congress in 2009 by establishing the Executive Order 13491 - Ensuring Lawful Interrogations which outlaws many of the torture policies and practices of the anti-constitutional Bush-era 'war on terror.'

Although the directive from President Obama effectively outlaws those practices, it can be easily undone by successive administrations; that eventuality demonstrated with reasonable surety by Mitt Romney in his declaration during his presidential campaign that he supported some of the most objectionable practices outlawed by the WH order.

In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder closed without charges the only two cases the Obama administration chose to investigate that involved Bush's torture program.

from the Holder's statement on his Justice Dept. decision:

On Aug. 24, 2009, based on information the Department received pertaining to alleged CIA mistreatment of detainees, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he had expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to conduct a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. Attorney General Holder made clear at that time, that the Department would not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. Accordingly, Mr. Durham’s review examined primarily whether any unauthorized interrogation techniques were used by CIA interrogators, and if so, whether such techniques could constitute violations of the torture statute or any other applicable statute.

In June of last year, the Attorney General announced that Mr. Durham recommended opening full criminal investigations regarding the death of two individuals while in United States custody at overseas locations, and closing the remaining matters. The Attorney General accepted that recommendation. Today, the Attorney General announced that those two investigations conducted over the past year have now been closed.


Notwithstanding an act by Congress in revising existing legislation or passing new legislation specifically outlawing the objectionable practices outlawed by President Obama's executive order, those torture policies and practices remain up to the discretion of the person in the White House. What Holder's decision represented was the last word by the Obama administration on actually bring accountability and consequence to the actions of the Bush-era torturers.

In his statement Friday, preemptively responding to revelations due to emerge from the Senate Intelligence agency report detailing abuses involving members Bush's CIA, Pres. Obama correctly condemned the practices, but also gave a curious defense of the motives behind such abuses.

President Obama:

“I understand why it happened,” Obama stated. “I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent.”

“And there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this, and it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had and a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”

“But having said all that,” he added, “We did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why after I took office one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that were the subject of this report. And my hope is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy but what we do when things are hard. And why we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and any fair-minded person would believe were torture—We crossed a line.”

“That needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to as a country take responsibility for that so hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”


Much was made by observers of the fact that the President made a historic reference in that statement Friday to the practices as 'torture.' In 2009, early in his presidency, Obama took Cheney to task for his defense of waterboarding: "I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationals were used, it was a mistake," he said.

Again in his 2011 campaign, President Obama rebuked the republicans advocating the practice, stating, "Anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that's not something we do -- period."

Making reference to his objections to torture in reference to the Senate report is significant, in that he has relied on his stated position in favor of public release of the intelligence committee report to deflect criticisms from advocates and foes alike. His intention that Congress sort all of it out for him is reflected in his statement yesterday that "we have to as a country take responsibility for that."

"I would urge them to go ahead and complete the report and send it to us, and we will declassify those findings so that the American people can understand what happened in the past. And that can help guide us as we move forward," he told reporters in March.


What's significant about his use of the word 'torture' is that the Senate Intelligence Committee report is said to have neglected to use that word to describe any of the abuses they detail. Still, the document is said to contain chilling descriptions of practices during the Bush administration, including many not previously publicized.

Even if the release of the Senate report goes as planned, the public will not see the entire version, but will be offered a summary of the findings.

Last night, on the eve of what most folks expected would finally be the release of the Senate report, news came that the White House, obstensibly meaning President Obama, had objected to sections of the document and had 'blacked-out' portions. That lead senators involved in the investigation to delay the release, citing 'significant redactions' in the White House 'executive summary.'

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement:

“The committee this afternoon received the redacted executive summary of our study on the CIA detention and interrogation program.

“A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification.

“Therefore the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.”


Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the committee, also remarked on the White House redactions.

from McClatchy:

“I am concerned about the excessive redactions Chairman Feinstein referenced in her statement, especially given the president’s unequivocal commitment to declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study,” Udall said. “I promised earlier this year to hold the president to his word and I intend to do so.”

Udall vowed to work with Feinstein to declassify the findings “to the fullest extent possible, correct the record on the CIA’s brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program, and ensure the CIA learns from its past mistakes.”


Sen. Feinstein had already indicated in April that she was committed to the publicizing of information after the Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 to release the torture documents.

Sen. Udall had taken a further step in March in a letter to the President requesting that he declassify the document:

"It is my belief that the declassification of the Committee Study is of paramount importance and that decisions about what should or should not be declassified regarding this issue should not be delegated to the CIA, but directly handled by the White House," Udall wrote in the letter. "I strongly believe there should be a public and unequivocal commitment from the White House to the fullest and most expedited possible declassification of the Committee's Study. Such a commitment is especially vital in light of the fact that the significant amounts of information on the CIA's detention and interrogation program that has been declassified and released to the American public is misleading and inaccurate."

"I believe it is vital that we understand how and why the content of the CIA's internal review contradicts the CIA's official June 27, 2013, response to the Committee," Udall also wrote in the letter. "I would like to know more about the origins of the review, its authorship, the context of its creation, and why its findings were ignored in the development of the CIA's June 2013 response. I have included a classified attachment to this letter detailing some of the troubling discrepancies, as I understand them, between the CIA's internal review and the CIA's June 2012 response to the Committee."


In admissions by the CIA Director Brennan this week, there was confirmation of charges made in March by Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Udall that the agency had made an incredible and apparently illegal effort to interfere with the Intelligence Committee's investigation which produced the torture report.

Brennan had extensively denied the agency had hacked into the Senate Intelligence Committee staffer's computers which held the product of their investigation that contributed to the report. ”Let me assure you,” Brennan had assured Senators in March, “the CIA was in no way spying on the Senate committee.”

The Bush CIA had already withheld and destroyed information about its Detention and Interrogation Program in 2005 when it deliberately destroyed tapes and information about its rendition and torture program. A civil lawsuit ACLU revealed in 2009 that 92 videotapes had been deliberately destroyed.

The then-Director, Michael Hayden, assured the Senate committee under Jay Rockefeller that despite the destruction, there were adequate documents which would describe the practices in detail. When Sen Feinstein took over the committee in 2009 the committee had completed their review.

Sen Feinstein:

By the time the two staffers completed their review into the CIA’s early interrogations in early 2009, I had become chairman of the committee and President Obama had been sworn into office.

The resulting staff report was chilling. The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us. As result of the staff’s initial report, I proposed, and then-Vice Chairman Bond agreed, and the committee overwhelmingly approved, that the committee conduct an expansive and full review of CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

On March 5, 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program. Immediately, we sent a request for documents to all relevant executive branch agencies, chiefly among them the CIA.

The committee’s preference was for the CIA to turn over all responsive documents to the committee’s office, as had been done in previous committee investigations.

Director Panetta proposed an alternative arrangement: to provide literally millions of pages of operational cables, internal emails, memos, and other documents pursuant to the committee’s document requests at a secure location in Northern Virginia. We agreed, but insisted on several conditions and protections to ensure the integrity of this congressional investigation.

Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman Bond, then-Director Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” “segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA—who would “not be permitted to” “share information from the system with other personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”

It was this computer network that, notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta, was searched by the CIA


After searching the committee computers and removing documents in an amazingly blatant attempt to chill the investigating staff, the CIA actually referred the staffers to the Justice Dept. for investigation into whether they had removed the documents illegally.

Committee staff confronted CIA officials about the removal of documents and were told that it was the result of 'contractors' who had been hired by the agency to declassify the material before releasing it to the committee. One of the excuses offered was that it was the White House which had demanded the removal.

Sen Feinstein:

In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that certain documents that had been provided for the committee’s review were no longer accessible. Staff approached the CIA personnel at the offsite location, who initially denied that documents had been removed. CIA personnel then blamed information technology personnel, who were almost all contractors, for removing the documents themselves without direction or authority. And then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. When the committee approached the White House, the White House denied giving the CIA any such order.

After a series of meetings, I learned that on two occasions, CIA personnel electronically removed committee access to CIA documents after providing them to the committee. This included roughly 870 documents or pages of documents that were removed in February 2010, and secondly roughly another 50 were removed in mid-May 2010.

I went up to the White House to raise this issue with the then-White House Counsel, in May 2010. He recognized the severity of the situation, and the grave implications of Executive Branch personnel interfering with an official congressional investigation. The matter was resolved with a renewed commitment from the White House Counsel, and the CIA, that there would be no further unauthorized access to the committee’s network or removal of access to CIA documents already provided to the committee.

On May 17, 2010, the CIA’s then-director of congressional affairs apologized on behalf of the CIA for removing the documents. And that, as far as I was concerned, put the incident aside.


At some point after that, the committee uncovered draft copies of an internal review by former director Panetta. In effect, the internal Panetta review actually corroborated the committee's own findings, rather than representing the only info available. In 2012, the Intelligence Committee approved a 6,300-page study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and sent the report to the executive branch.

The Brennan CIA responded that they agreed with some of the report but disagreed with other parts of it. Most importantly, the parts they disagreed with were those which were actually confirmed by the Panetta review.

Sen Feinstein:

As CIA Director Brennan has stated, the CIA officially agrees with some of our study. But, as has been reported, the CIA disagrees and disputes important parts of it. And this is important: Some of these important parts that the CIA now disputes in our committee study are clearly acknowledged in the CIA’s own Internal Panetta Review.

To say the least, this is puzzling. How can the CIA’s official response to our study stand factually in conflict with its own Internal Review?


Unlike the official response, these Panetta Review documents were in agreement with the committee’s findings. That’s what makes them so significant and important to protect.

When the Internal Panetta Review documents disappeared from the committee’s computer system, this suggested once again that the CIA had removed documents already provided to the committee, in violation of CIA agreements and White House assurances that the CIA would cease such activities.

As I have detailed, the CIA has previously withheld and destroyed information about its Detention and Interrogation Program, including its decision in 2005 to destroy interrogation videotapes over the objections of the Bush White House and the Director of National Intelligence. Based on the information described above, there was a need to preserve and protect the Internal Panetta Review in the committee’s own secure spaces.


DiFi wrote to the agency requesting complete copies of the Panetta review. Sen. Udall also requested the documents in a committee hearing. The CIA denied the request, claiming that it was incomplete and 'deliberative.'

That's when the CIA went into full protection mode and insisted they be allowed to conduct a search of the committee's computers.

Sen Feinstein:

In late 2013, I requested in writing that the CIA provide a final and complete version of the Internal Panetta Review to the committee, as opposed to the partial document the committee currently possesses.

In December, during an open committee hearing, Senator Mark Udall echoed this request. In early January 2014, the CIA informed the committee it would not provide the Internal Panetta Review to the committee, citing the deliberative nature of the document.

Shortly thereafter, on January 15, 2014, CIA Director Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a “search”—that was John Brennan’s word—of the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the ”stand alone” and “walled-off” committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.

According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.

Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta Review. In place of asking any questions, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation—which we have now seen repeated anonymously in the press—that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network.


I outlined all of this in an earlier post which included more detail, but the point of highlighting this is that the White House and their CIA director appear to be on the same page in seeking to limit, obscure, or obfuscate from information contained in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

The latest action from the White House in redacting portions of the report from their executive summary, and the subsequent objections of Sens. Feinstein and Udall to releasing what they obviously feel would be an inadequate and incomplete account of findings from their investigation, are cause to question the assertions from president Obama that he intends the release to "help guide us" in the effort to "take responsibility" for the abuses. At least, the Senators who crafted the report don't believe so.

Where is the pressure coming from to modify the executive summary? We know from news reports, that former Bush Officials, including the head of Bush's CIA, George Tenet, who had approved the tortures which he had called 'enhanced interrogation,' were allowed to work hand in hand with the Obama CIA to craft a defense of their actions and to basically refute portions of the Senate report they disagreed with.

CIA bio:

John Brennan served from 1999 to 2001 as Chief of Staff to George Tenet, who was then Director of Central Intelligence. Mr. Brennan next worked as Deputy Executive Director of the CIA until 2003, when he began leading a multi-agency effort to establish what would become the National Counterterrorism Center. In 2004, he became the Center’s Interim Director.

Brennan was sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on March 8, 2013. As Director, he manages intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence services. Before becoming Director, Mr. Brennan served at the White House for four years as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.


from NBC News:

After Brennan’s return to Washington from Saudi Arabia 2002, Tenet made him deputy executive director of the CIA. The job took him out of intelligence gathering and into administration. As the No. 2 in the CIA's administrative office, Brennan was essentially "deputy mayor" of the agency, "making the trains run on time" for the worldwide operation, as one former Tenet aide put it.

In that role, he helped set up the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the predecessor to the National Counter Terrorism Center. Brennan built the unit from the ground up, finding the building, setting up security procedures and staffing it with analysts from across the intelligence community. His aggressiveness in staffing didn't sit well with those who lost analysts. In his memoir, "Hard Measures" Jose Rodriguez, then the director of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, accused Brennan of "ripping most, if not all, of the top CT (counter terror) analysts out of CTC."


from the NYT:

Over the past several months, Mr. Tenet has quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report, which could become public next month. The effort to discredit the report has set up a three-way showdown among former C.I.A. officials who believe history has been distorted, a White House carefully managing the process and politics of declassifying the document, and Senate Democrats convinced that the Obama administration is trying to protect the C.I.A. at all costs.

The report is expected to accuse a number of former C.I.A. officials of misleading Congress and the White House about the program and its effectiveness, but it is Mr. Tenet who might have the most at stake.

The detention and interrogation program was conceived on his watch and run by men and women he had put in senior positions. After virtually disappearing from public view since leaving the C.I.A. in 2004 except for a brief period promoting his memoir, Mr. Tenet is working behind the scenes with many of the same people to develop a strategy to challenge the report’s findings. And he is relying on his close relationship with Mr. Brennan to keep him apprised as the report moves through a glacial declassification process. Mr. Brennan rose to the C.I.A.’s senior ranks during Mr. Tenet’s tenure, and served as one of the former C.I.A. chief’s most trusted advisers during the post-9/11 period.


In the past, Obama's CIA director Brennan has expressed his approval of the Bush CIA's policy of 'extraordinary renditions' and voiced at least some support for the Bush-era torture policy operated by his former boss, Tenet, of 'enhanced interrogations.'

from PBS Newshour in 2007:

Brennan has defended renditions, the practice of sending terror suspects to other countries, where they might be subject to torture, as he did on the NewsHour in 2005.

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it’s an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now in the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. government has been involved in.

And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.


from CBS News in 2007 (Early Show, 11/2/07):

The CIA has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the CIA refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures…. There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives. And let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.


Brennan insisted at the time of his nomination by the President that his opposition to torture comprised what he said were objections he claimed to have raised during the Bush years and, remarkably, in his defense, the White House has pointed to his tenure as Obama's 'chief counterterrorism adviser' to insist that Brennan was instrumental in crafting the executive decision the President made to outlaw the practices.

from Jake Tapper in 2008:

In a letter released to the media, apparently by Brennan or someone operating on Brennan’s behalf, the former CIA official wrote, “It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush Administration such as the preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, too include waterboarding. The fact that I was not involved in the decision making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored. Indeed, my criticism of these policies within government circles why I was twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current Administration only to be rebuffed by the White House.”


Whether Obama's CIA chief is presently opposed to the torture policies of his former boss, Tenet, or not, there is a clear conflict of interest in allowing him to direct the crafting of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report - the only public view of the committee findings that is likely to be allowed.

That conflict is made even more egregious in the way that former CIA officials, including two other former C.I.A. directors - Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden - have reportedly been allowed to actively participate in that process of declassification and editing the documents.

One of the questions which need answering concerning Brennan's grudging admission that his agency had, in fact, interfered in the Senate committee's investigation into CIA activities is what extent these former operators contributed to the process of omitting portions of that report from the public as well as the private version of the Senate's findings?

It's disturbing to hear President Obama actually offering his own justifications for torture practices and policies he's already identified as far outside or constitution or our national conscience. It's chilling to see that even a summary of that report - in effect, itself auguring an inadequate and incomplete accounting to the American people - is being redacted in such a 'significant' way by one of the partners to those abuses; now an integral partner to this President's representation of the only significant and extensive official accounting of all of that.

With all of the admitted interference by the Obama CIA in the committee investigation, and all of the collusion of the principal subjects in the Bush-era practices in revising and rebutting the investigator's findings, it may well be that we'll need yet another investigation to provide an un-redacted accounting of events and actions and to provide that 'responsibility' for the abuses that President Obama says we deserve.
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