Saturday, April 25, 2009

Porter Goss: crossing the red line 

Read the op-ed by Porter Goss in today's Washington Post.

He is uniquely situated to comment on the politics of the interrogation mess, having been chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1997 to 2004, and then director of the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006. That is, he was present at most of the post-9/11 meetings that "read in" certain Members of Congress on the interrogation programs, then later had executive authority over parts of the program while at CIA.

"Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:
-- The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
-- We understood what the CIA was doing.
-- We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
-- We gave the CIA funding to carry out
its activities.
-- On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more
support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda."

It sounds as though he is ready to testify under oath, and that Speaker Pelosi may not like everything he has to say.

I'm just thinking out loud here, but is it possible that Speaker Pelosi has early-stage Alzheimer's Disease? She wouldn't actually misrepresent the meetings on the Hill that took place post-9/11 regarding interrogation, would she?

Actually, seriously, Goss calls on President Obama to "shut down this dangerous show."


By Blogger SeniorD, at Sat Apr 25, 02:30:00 PM:

"I am speaking out now because I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage. We can't have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets. Americans have to decide now.

A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation's intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda."

Typical of any Professional Democrat, Nancy Pelosi has chosen to trust the American people's predilection to forget something that happened in the past. For example, Madam Nancy, Madam of the House of the Rising Sun, would forget the Holocaust were it not for some of her 'serfs' continually reminding her.

There is zero question she knew, understood and tacitly approved the actions. Alzheimer's may be a valid excuse - to impeach her for her monumental incompetence.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 25, 02:48:00 PM:

Speaker Pelosi: waste of human protoplasm  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Apr 25, 03:30:00 PM:

It would be understandable and sympathetic if she had Altzheimer's Disease. However, I happen to believe she is psychotic.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 25, 04:23:00 PM:

"were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists."

And no doubt the House leaders were also told that the enhanced techniques passed the WH lawyers "smell" test. How convenient.

I wonder if they were warned as the Pentagon lawyers were in 2002 that the "enhanced techniques" constituted torture AND would produce "uunreliable information."

Lucky for you guys that John McCain didn't win. What a pickle the Republicans would be in then given his views on torture!!  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sat Apr 25, 04:46:00 PM:

If the administration of President Obama allows Nancy Pelosi's "Culture of Corruption" to win this one I think Dick Cheney had the right idea.
The next day the CIA should make all of the data that was collected public, so the leftists, communists, socialists and Democrats can see exactly how many terrorists plots were foiled using these methods. The government is supposed to protect us, it's their job.

The day the left supports deporting illegal immigrants is the day I begin to believe they really support the rule of law. They support selective enforcement and have for a very long time.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 25, 05:49:00 PM:

Cheney asked Nat'l Archives the other day for TWO documents--18 pages in all--in support of his position that it ain't torture if it produces results. Compelling.

Now that the dates between when actionable evidence about the plans to blow up the Library Tower in LA and when the admin gave the green light to using "enhanced techniques" has been debunked (the evidence was obtained 5 months PRIOR to date when anyone was tort....ah, er "enhanced"), I guess he ain't got much else.  

By Anonymous Mac, at Sat Apr 25, 08:49:00 PM:

From the pen of Special Agent Soufan who interrogated Abu Zubaydah:

"FOR SEVEN years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.

Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

It was the right decision to release these memos, as we need the truth to come out. This should not be a partisan matter, because it is in our national security interest to regain our position as the world’s foremost defenders of human rights. Fortunately for me, after I objected to the enhanced techniques, the message came through from Pat D’Amuro, an F.B.I. assistant director, that “we don’t do that,” and I was pulled out of the interrogations by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller (this was documented in the report released last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general).

My C.I.A. colleagues who balked at the techniques, on the other hand, were instructed to continue. (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

As we move forward, it’s important to not allow the torture issue to harm the reputation, and thus the effectiveness, of the C.I.A. The agency is essential to our national security.

We must ensure that the mistakes behind the use of these techniques are never repeated. We’re making a good start: President Obama has limited interrogation techniques to the guidelines set in the Army Field Manual, and Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director, says he has banned the use of contractors and secret overseas prisons for terrorism suspects (the so-called black sites)."  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sat Apr 25, 09:32:00 PM:

Mac - I don't see Thursday's NYT op-ed by Soufan as being in opposition to Goss. Notice that Soufan does not call for a special prosecutor or truth squads or Congressional hearings. He wants the CIA to be effective, as, presumably, does Goss.

Goss likely believes that releasing the memos was a mistake, as did many inside President Obama's circle who were advising him not to release them, whereas Soufan thinks it was OK. So, yes, that is one area of conflict. If the memos lead to the "circus" scenario Goss fears, and the CIA is weakened as Soufan fears, perhaps he will write another op-ed saying that this all should have stopped with the release of the first memos.

Soufan's service is admirable and his analysis is quite relevant. He should be able to provide his point of view, and others who were junior, parallel or senior to him (either at FBI, CIA or "contractors") should be able to provide their opinions as well -- it is clear he was overruled on at least one occasion, and honest people can have honest disagreements. Soufan correctly points out that his point of view prevails now under the Obama administration, citing Panetta (who, again, opposed the release of the memos) as banning contractors and black sites.  

By Blogger SR, at Sat Apr 25, 11:27:00 PM:

Goss, Cheney:
Republicans with 'nads.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Apr 26, 12:23:00 PM:

Soufan was a remarkable asset...and clearly he had no stomach for "enhanced interrogation", but I must make a few comments on this Op/Ed.

1. The op/ed is timed with similar releases in other media in a manner designed to enhance Obama's policy of scuttling our counter-terrorism effectiveness. Why?

2. It is disingenuous (and dead wrong) to state that the techniques lead to the wall of separation between the FBI and CIA. This wall was clearly present and contributions to it were documented in memos extending back to the Clinton administration (Some call it the "Gorelick Wall" after the assistant AG with the Clinton administration who, among other bureaucrats, fostered the policy). It had nothing to do with torture.

3. If the techniques didn't work for Mr. Soufan, does that in essence disqualify them?

4. If we are adverse to such policies as scaring adult men with bugs, pouring water on their faces and keeping them up all night...perhaps we should just be out of the intelligence business all together. However, Mr. Soufan was quite reluctant to have the address on his new 1.7 Million dollar condo in Manhattan published, because of the "evildoers" (his word) that still exist out there.

If this man is scared, shouldn't we ALL be....maybe just a little bit???  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sun Apr 26, 05:17:00 PM:

Re: Effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics

John McCain at the Republican Convention last year, talking about his years as a POW in North Vietnam: "I always liked to strut a little after I’d been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me."  

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