The media are woefully ignorant on the subject of waterboarding and torture. Consider the coverage of former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, who is telling his story as an interrogator of Abu Zubaydah and insisting that waterboarding is an effective technique. ABC and CNN are repeating this absurd propaganda. However, if you read the transcript of his interview some key points are obscured in the media propaganda push: (part 1 and part 2):

  • Kiriakou never witnessed the waterboarding. It was carried out by another group of individuals (nfi).
  • None of the information provided by Zubaydah concerned threats inside the United States.

The ABC interview with Kiriakou provides some important insights into the whole question of the CIA’s role in using torture, which is now euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation”.

The media are woefully ignorant on the subject of waterboarding and torture. Consider the coverage of former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, who is telling his story as an interrogator of Abu Zubaydah and insisting that waterboarding is an effective technique. ABC and CNN are repeating this absurd propaganda. However, if you read the transcript of his interview some key points are obscured in the media propaganda push: (part 1 and part 2):

  • Kiriakou never witnessed the waterboarding. It was carried out by another group of individuals (nfi).
  • None of the information provided by Zubaydah concerned threats inside the United States.

The ABC interview with Kiriakou provides some important insights into the whole question of the CIA’s role in using torture, which is now euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation”. CIA case officers are not trained in “interrogation”. They are trained in recruitment. Recruiting and debriefing sources is more akin to romancing someone. You are not looking for a one night stand, you want a relationship.

So who did the CIA turn to for help with “enhanced interrogation”? It was either the military or former military working as contractors. Why? Because the military did train interrogators at Fort Huachuca and they were familiar with enhanced interrogation methods, including waterboarding.

Unfortunately, the media are helping perpetuate several myths about waterboarding. Last Sunday in the Washington Post, for example, reporters Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen claimed:

U.S. soldier in Vietnam supervises the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier.

A U.S. soldier in Vietnam supervises the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. Bettmann/Corbis

“Waterboarding as an interrogation technique has its roots in some of history’s worst totalitarian nations, from Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition to North Korea and Iraq. In the United States, the technique was first used five decades ago as a training tool to give U.S. troops a realistic sense of what they could expect if captured by the Soviet Union or the armies of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military has officially regarded the tactic as torture since the Spanish-American War.

In general, the technique involves strapping a prisoner to a board or other flat surface, and then raising his feet above the level of his head. A cloth is then placed over the subject’s mouth and nose, and water is poured over his face to make the prisoner believe he is drowning.”

Wrong. Dead wrong. A friend of VIPS sent the following to Ray McGovern yesterday reminding us that:

As I’m sure you know, waterboarding was a common practice used by the Marines in the Philippines during the war 1898-1902 when thousands were killed. I recall seeing photos as well as drawings of it among the military records in the National Archives. But now, they are spinning waterboarding as a practice the U.S. only used to show our people what to expect from the enemy.

Incidentally, a photograph (see below) appeared on the front page of the Washington Post showing a U.S. smiling officer in Vietnam participating in the waterboarding of an alleged North Vietnamese cadre. On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran the photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding. The caption said the technique induced “a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk.” The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.

Hell, it would help if Washington Post reporters read their own damn paper. It is historical information, but real facts are better than uninformed opinions.

In this regard it is worth noting that waterboarding is torture as defined in the Convention Against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention defines torture as:

. . . any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Writers and editors at the Post and other newspapers should also consult the following sections of this Convention:

  • Article 2 – No Exceptional Circumstances Warranting Torture
  • Article 3 – No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
  • Article 4 – Acts of Torture Are Criminal Offenses
  • Article 10 – Education & Information Regarding Prohibition on Torture Provided in Training
  • Article 16 – Each State to Prevent Acts of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Since the United States is a signatory to this Convention, it is not up to President Bush to declare waterboarding is okay. It is not. It is torture. Plain and simple.

Previous articleDisentangling Torture TapeGate
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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
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  • Mr.Murder

    “The Dread Pirate Bin Laden

    How thinking of terrorists as pirates can help win the war on terror.”

    By Douglas R. Burgess Jr.

    “INTERNATIONAL LAW LACKS A DEFINITION FOR TERRORISM as a crime. According to Secretary General Kofi Annan, this lack has hampered “the moral authority of the United Nations and its strength in condemning” the scourge.

    But attempts to provide a definition have failed because of terrorists’ strangely hybrid status in the law. They are neither ordinary criminals nor recognized state actors, so there is almost no international or domestic law dealing with them. This gives an out to countries that harbor terrorists and declare them “freedom fighters.” It also lets the United States flout its own constitutional safeguards by holding suspects captive indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay. The overall situation is, in a word, anarchic.

    Coming up with such a framework would perhaps seem impossible, except that one already exists. Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

    AT FIRST GLANCE, THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PIRACY AND TERRORISM seems a stretch. Yet much of the basis of this skepticism can be traced to romantic and inaccurate notions about piracy. An examination of the actual history of the crime reveals startling, even astonishing, parallels to contemporary international terrorism. Viewed in its proper historical context, piracy emerges as a clear and powerful precedent. “

    Read this today in a football archive that links the above story.

    International law has quite a precedent in dealing with piracy, even in addressing state sponsorship of those acting outside borders…

    “This was codified explicitly in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, and it has been reiterated as a guiding principle of piracy law ever since. Ironically, it is the very effectiveness of this criminalization that has marginalized piracy and made it seem an arcane and almost romantic offense. Pirates no longer terrorize the seas because a concerted effort among the European states in the 19th century almost eradicated them. It is just such a concerted effort that all states must now undertake against terrorists, until the crime of terrorism becomes as remote and obsolete as piracy.”

    This matches every demand we have in dealing with the topic at this time:

    If the war on terror becomes akin to war against the pirates, however, the situation would change. First, the crime of terrorism would be defined and proscribed internationally, and terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states. This legal status carries significant advantages, chief among them the possibility of universal jurisdiction. Terrorists, as hostis humani generis, could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. Pirates are currently the only form of criminals subject to this special jurisdiction.

    Second, this definition would deter states from harboring terrorists on the grounds that they are “freedom fighters” by providing an objective distinction in law between legitimate insurgency and outright terrorism. This same objective definition could, conversely, also deter states from cracking down on political dissidents as “terrorists,” as both Russia and China have done against their dissidents.

    Imagine that, by adhering tot he International Court we could actually strenghthen and reinforce Democracy. Something George W. Bush is more than pleased claim is his vision, like Johnny Appleseed, tossing Napalm, White Phosphorous, Rendition and Torture, anti personnel minds packaged similar to various relief items, and targeting of civilians all over the world. Like some legendary good tidings from am an in burlap with fruity presents for every village he wanders upon.

    It takes a Village Idiot. Burlap would make fine clothing for the Boy King, seeing as now the Emporer Wears No Clothes…

    Alas, all the logic that could propel such prosecution of terror is disabled by Bushco. and its policy in protecting certain persons such as Mr.Kissinger:

    “Third, and perhaps most important, nations that now balk at assisting the United States in the war on terror might have fewer reservations if terrorism were defined as an international crime that could be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.”

    Et tu, AWOL?

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  • Sometime-CIA-Defender

    Saw Michael Baker on MSNBC this morning and what’s-his-name last night on Abrams. The latter stated that he believes waterboarding to be torture (now, but not back then). Baker on the other hand said it was just a matter of what was legal, and talk of what is good and evil (and by extension what is ethical?) is irrelevant. Hence my screen name.

  • Mr.Murder

    The current item seems to be that the POTUS is protecting America from danger, for the Judicial review justification.

    In the same Article I Sec. 8 listing, it notes calling forth “militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions;”

    so we would have to meet a benchmark of calling the militia, in full compliance with upholding American law and international law(Article VI) for these unitary Executive powers to meet the conditions of expanded authority? That only if one or all of the three was needed(law enforcement, insurrection, invasion, which would of course adhere Geneva standards in the third case).

    Sorry for spelling errors above, my spellcheck opened for a separate window.

    Since the Congress is tasked maintenance of an Army, and militia activated requires pay as well, unless these items are paid for(not written on a future IOU as Dubya has done) would we be in violation of the Constitution from a literalistic perspective?

    Earlier in the Section it tasks various ways of revenue maintenance, but unless it was to explicitly state so (with regard to both militias and maintenance of the Army) could we contend that anything aside from actual paid in full status was itself failing to uphold an obligation for the Constitution?

    States don’t have money to help pay militia at this time, the Federal gov’t doesn’t in terms of cleared and paid for money that isn’t borrowed from China. All 50 states aren’t on notice either, it appears as close they could be to claiming ‘protection of the public’ as means of expanding the Executive’s authority and avoiding oversight would be to meet the standards of “calling the militia forward” which is another 1st Article power granted Congress.

  • Mr.Murder

    Without a formal War Declaration no War Powers could be claimed.

    The above Article for Law of Land with respect to Treaties is Article VI(Supremacy of Federal Laws), not Article V(Amendments).
    If it was to challenged you must make the claim that absolute authority resides in the actual War Appropriations. This would be a matter paid for “but no appropriation of money to that use shall be longer than two years.”
    Article I, Sec. 8

    Could we thus sue for peace at the two year mark(since past) since no formal War Declaration is made but we still issue money for it?

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  • Mr.Murder

    Congress is also tasked with establishing tribunal procedure.

    Another item Bushco. is blocking in violation of the COnstitution so as to restrict political oversight.

    None of the Decider’s powers are granted him in the Constitution re:tribunals, renditions, etc.

    Even if a personw ere to be held “in an American territory” for a loophole to apply re: Gtimo, that the eprson even got there via rendition is itself illegal.

    So that should not have standing either. Illegal action that gets to a point you find some neutral or vague claim of authoirty is not allowed, again under Article V as it applies to International Law.

    You have to obey the law every step of the way.

    • Victor MIsrock

      It has been confirmed that waterboarding was employed on those videotapes — here is some leaked footage that has been uncovered, perhaps from the CIA?:

      • Can’t wait for the kiddies to mimic this ala Jackass.

      • Retired

        “Leaked footage?” Is that some type of pun? This is an obvious fabrication. Come on, if you guys are going to fake something, you can do better than that. Another red pill moment.

  • Donovan Fraser

    I watched this guy John Kiriakou on Wolf Blizter’s situation room yesterday and i got to say, he didn’t seem credible at all. His timing and message were a little too convenient for my taste. he seemed like a very bad actor ( Jeff Gannon like) talking about how this “Enhanced interigation” saved lives but not saying where or when did it save lives. And his guilt about doing it was beyond fake. why don’t they hire real actors like Al Pachino or something like him to do the talk circuit?
    I have also heard that Abu Zubaydah was mentally ill, why no questions on Abu Zubaydah’s sanity from Wolf? Is Abu delusional or the “criminal mastermind” we have all been sold since 911? Not a follow up question, nothing.

    Stephen Colbert has it right, our media is nothing but a dictation device, no real reporting is being done. some guy de jour we never heard of comes out and says something and they print it as if it were the truth handed down from God and us mere mortals slop it up from the trough that is the MSM.

    I smell B.S……

  • mudkitty

    Just another “tipping point.”

    For good or for ill.

  • Kathleen

    Sorry here is the link

    “Is waterboarding like snowboarding?”

    • reggie

      Waterboarding: Charlie Don’t Surf

      ‘Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised “hundreds” of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that “waterboarding is a torture technique – period”.

      The practice involves strapping the person being interrogated on to a board as pints of water are forced into his lungs through a cloth covering his face while the victim’s mouth is forced open. Its effect, according to Mr Nance, is a process of slow-motion suffocation.

      Typically, a victim goes into hysterics on the board as water fills his lungs. “How much the victim is to drown,” Mr Nance wrote in an article for the Small Wars Journal, “depends on the desired result and the obstinacy of the subject.

      “A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience to horrific, suffocating punishment, to the final death spiral. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch.”‘

  • Kathleen

    check this image out at FDL

    egregious December 12th, 2007 at 5:33 am
    In response to STTPinOhio @ 19

    Good point. “Waterboarding” sounds like something your kids try to talk you into doing with them on vacation at the beach.

    I assume you’ve seen this post then.

  • Kathleen


    Before the invasion of Iraq I listened to the Diane Rehm show almost everyday. She had a long list of experts, analyst, historians who questioned the validity of the intelligence about Iraq, the wisdom and need of such a pre-emptive invasion.

    The last several weeks she has been slipping in regard to hammering away at the critical issues facing this nation. She has not had one program on the tapes, the NIE report or what is taking place in Iraq on the ground

    Disappointing! I have always felt Diane was one of the best things going in the MSM (do not always agree but so what).

    Check out Diane’s schedule this week. Seems to be missing some hot and critical issues.

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  • Kathleen

    I think it paid off being persistent in linking Larry’s website over at FDL for the last several weeks.

    In fact I was politely hammered by some commenters
    the other day for linking to this site so often. Several commenters charged me with “advertising” for Larry, instead of what I am committed to doing passing information and insights on.
    Persistence can pay off.
    Anyway over at FDL Scarecrow (wonderful blogger) is focused on Larry’s CIA friends and their insights to the tapes.

    Some observations.
    As Larry has said the majority of the MSM outlets are spinning Kiriakou’s take on the “enhanced torture” (so is he) as necessary and effective. Kiriakou is everywhere and large part of the MSM is spinning the “enhanced” torture as effective and necessary.

    The Iraq war (what is happening on the ground) has basically disappeared the last three months on the MSM (this has been a steady process over the last year, it is all campaign campaign campaign, tapes, NIE, killings at malls, churches.

    Anyone notice that there was not even a whisper about the 6th delay of the Aipac espionage trial in the MSM. One time I heard Chris Matthews whisper one of the delays. There should be no doubt that the Israeli lobby still maintains plenty of influence as far as if and when anything having to do with this espionage investigation and delayed trial is allowed into the mainstream

    • Cee

      Anyone notice that there was not even a whisper about the 6th delay of the Aipac espionage trial in the MSM.

      I hadn’t. This new delay gives them more time to slaughter people in Gaza that they haven’t killed from lack of medical care, food and water.

      Thanks for the reminder. You made me remember something. Nancy Pelosi threw Jane Harman under the bus regarding her ties to AIPAC.
      Exclusive: Feds Probe a Top Democrat’s Relationship with AIPAC,8599,1549069,00.html

      • Kathleen

        I am not sure whether that investigation was completed or not. This Aipac espionage trial delay gives Israel more time to push for or conduct a pre-emptive strike on Iran. If and when Americans become aware (the MSM has barely reported anything about this invesigation and upcoming trial) that Franklin, Rosen, Weissman, (maybe Pollack, Satterfield and others) were passing classified intelligence having to do with Iran to Israeli officials. Maybe just maybe the American people will realize that Israel has not been such a good friend to the US.

        Unless the new Attorney General dismisses this whole Aipac espionage case which the Israeli lobby has been pushing hard for.”

        Justin Raimando’s latest

        • Cee

          Peace? Israel doesn’t need it or want it…. From the Israeli perspective, things are going just swimmingly, thank you: no need to upset the apple cart.

          They also have a SURPLUS! We don’t.

          Last update – 16:41 04/12/2007

          Finance Ministry announces budget surplus of NIS 7.7 billion for 2007

          By Motti Bassok, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

          Tags: tax authority, state budget

          The Finance Ministry published statistics Tuesday indicating that the government has a budget surplus of NIS 7.7 billion for first 11 months of 2007. The reason for the surplus was higher revenue than expected and low expenses. In the corresponding period last year, the government budget’s surplus stood only at NIS 2.3 billion.


          Last update – 17:04 17/11/2007

          Study claims Jewish poverty rate in the U.S. is higher than in Israel

          By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent

          In fact, the Jewish poverty rate in the United States is higher than that in Israel. In Israel 24 percent of the population is considered poor, but about half is not Jewish.

          New York also has a high rate of Jewish poverty. “Usually the words ‘Jewish poverty” are seen as a contradiction in terms, says William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. “It’s not. More than a quarter of the members of the world’s richest Jewish community live close to the poverty line.”

          A survey conducted for the federation five years ago showed that 350,000 Jews in New York City and state live close to the poverty line. The highest poverty rate is in Brooklyn. Ultra-Orthodox families make up 27 percent of those living below the poverty line, 23 percent are Russian speakers under the age of 65, 21 percent are Russian speakers over 65, 13 percent are non-Russian speakers over 65 and 16 percent are unemployed or handicapped.

  • LuceMDiffundo

    FOXNEWS is now calling it “Extreme Interrogation”.

    Oh, that makes it better, then.

    • TeakwoodKite

      Can’t wait to see it on ESPN…

  • ybnormal

    Some thoughts as this story continues to evolve.

    John Kiriakou says that waterboarding Zubaydah that one time worked to turn him around. I don’t believe this leads to the conclusion that force worked so therefore more force will work more better. In context, it worked as an expiditer because it was part of a process of resetting Zubaydah’s mental perspective about his relative position, and who he could expect to rely on to survive.

    Meanwhile, waterboarding is still torture. This presents a problelm for the U.S. if it wants to aspire to moral leadership. It also presents a fundamental credibility problem for Bush. He keeps repeating the obvious illogic that we use ‘harsh’ techniques, but we don’t torture, therefore the ‘harsh’ techniques are not torture.

    This continued insistence on having it both ways – torturing, while claiming that torture isn’t torture – is going to have a polarizing effect, especially as we move into the election cycle.

    • ybnormal

      What Bush is basically telling us is that it’s OK to drink out of the toilet, because the water source that fills it is clean.

  • Mr.Murder

    Are you telling me Bush is in compliance with Geneva?

    If so, why doesn’t he sign onto the World Court?

    It appears Article I actually compliments Geneva.

    Congress is tasked the role, as pertaining to “the high seas” provided it remains compliant with other agreed upon under Article V of our Constitution “…and all treaties made…” so that would make Bush illegal on 2 counts.

    One he is taking the role of Congressional authority under Article I as the Deciderer, the other he is in violation of Treaty which Article V says is the land’s law.

  • justsomeone

    Mr Murder, have you recently read article 3 of the Geneva Convention 1949? Maybe it does all boil down to “territory”. Check it out & give me your read on that little detail. Isn’t that the nutshell of POTUS’ argument? What are you picking up on that trumps his narrow interpretion of “territory”? The administration seems to view that as their ace in a hole. Whether those judgements are the purview of congress or the executive branch is an interesting side argument, however given the peek behind the curtain view that retired provided us, it would appear that formality has taken place in committee. Are you saying Article 1-sec8 on the Constitutional trumps Geneva?

  • Kathleen

    * Article 2 – No Exceptional Circumstances Warranting Torture
    * Article 3 – No State Party shall expel, return (”refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
    * Article 4 – Acts of Torture Are Criminal Offenses
    * Article 10 – Education & Information Regarding Prohibition on Torture Provided in Training
    * Article 16 – Each State to Prevent Acts of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

    Since the United States is a signatory to this Convention, it is not up to President Bush to declare waterboarding is okay. It is not. It is torture. Plain and simple.

    Does any of this apply if you are a “contractor”?

  • Kathleen

    Does it matter who the CIA attorneys were who “designed and cleared” these “enhanced techniques”?

  • Kathleen

    If the people who conducted the “enhanced techniques” for torture were “contractors”. The way Blackwater’s Erik Prince made it sound at the Blackwater hearing “contractors” are out of reach of US law.

    Tyler Drumheller on Hardball…waterboarding

    • TeakWoodKite

      Welcome home…funny it was no home like I’d ever known….Karpinsky indicated that this was true although at the time it appeared that she was investpissed at having to be out of the loop. Have her orders ever been made public? Sanchez would know.

  • mark

    I want hearings; the first person I want called up and put under oath is Senator Jay Rockefeller followed by the remaining 99 US Senators. I want each one asked what did you know, when did you know it and who did you tell.

    I think that would be the end of this ridiculous rant about waterboarding three damn terrorists….

    • Matt

      Why should the senators be the first? They were complicit and acquiescent, but that merely makes them accomplices to the crime. It’s not the three damn terrorists, it’s us. If it’s such a trifling matter, why not embrace it openly? Why hide like cowards behind lawyers and Bill Clinton-like doublespeak? Ask your heroes that, and the reply will be telling. They are not as ballsy as you like to believe them. They are, all of them, including the senators, willing to do whatever makes them feel good, provided they never have to be held accountable.

  • Cee

    We can’t let grandma skate.

    Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

    She sponsors this thought crime bill and now we have the news about the missing tapes.

    Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat who warned the CIA in 2003 against destroying tapes of its agents using so-called harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, now says the agency brushed off her concerns over the tapes’ preservation with a curt, “very unsatisfactory” response.

    Whether the former ranking member of the Intelligence Committee pushed for more information on the interrorgation methods that sparked her initial concern remains an open question. Democrats are accusing the CIA of keeping them in the dark about plans to destroy videotapes, and Harman acknowledges that her memory is fuzzy regarding a classified briefing she participated in just after taking over for Nancy Pelosi as top Democrat on the committee.

    “I can’t really reconstruct the meeting — again, which was highly classified — because I took no notes. It was five years ago and this feeble grandma just ain’t that good,” Harman told NPR’s Robert Siegel Monday.

    • TeakWoodKite

      I always been curious as to why Con.Pelosi quickly changed the chair. Reyes being appointed is an interesting appointment considering his recent coments about Jose. Harmon attended a NPC gathering and was talking about “the need for a legal framework” for the current state of affairs. If I wan’ted to be in a position of deniablity I would not want to stick around or just recently read into a program.

    • Retired

      It’s the Little Old Lady from Pasadena. Right, Jane. You don’t remember telling us that “enhanced” techniques were OK as long as they saved American lives and prevented another 9/11, just like Nancy did in the prior briefing? Well I’ll tell ya, sweetheart, we remember very well, and some of us did take contemporaneous notes and squirrel them away. Just let your buddies currently on the committee try and haul us up now and hold us unilaterally accountable for what you told us to do. If you think Kiriakou had an interesting story to tell, wait until we show up on Brian Ross’ doorstep.

      • TeakwoodKite

        OH Please do I can’t wait for that one to be seen on C-SCPAN…I listened to the Iran Contra hearings from start to finish, this would be far more revealing. Thanks for your insight Retired.

      • Fine. Let the chips fall where they may, Retired.

        It was the Dems who stuck up for Valerie Plame when your Bush buddies you seem intent on protecting threw her to the wolves. Republicans were (and to this day some still are) trying to pretend she was just a file clerk. Or have you forgotten that?

        • TeakwoodKite

          Funny..I don’t take Retired’s comments as leaning one way or the other…I think you are correct about Porter Goss. He was made to clean up after Bush in return for the appointment…or something…do you know where he is now?

          It appears from an artical I read by Larry, that he voted for Bush in 2000…and I think he has defended Ms Wilson, as so many others people have regardless of what political views they may hold… I don’t even think of the people that refer to Ms Wilson as a “file clerk” to be Republicans. To me they are just treasonous criminals. Can we agree on that?

        • Retired

          No, I am by no means pro-Republican. I was a colleague of Valerie’s, and I think what was done to her and her family by this administration was not only a betrayal of her personally but of every American intelligence officer who risks his or her life more often then many realize to try and get accurate information back to decision makers. I have said this many times on this blog. And we do agree on one thing: let the chips fall where they may. Let those who were actually at those briefings, including the working level intelligence officers who were actually giving the briefings and received direct, face-to-face feedback from members of the oversight committees, both Republican and Democrat, tell their story without fear of reprisal and budget cutting by vengeful members of Congress and the administration. That is the threat, no matter who is in power, and that is why we have always kept silent. Perhaps until now.

  • Retired, the best disinformation is perfectly true. Like the skilled magician, it misdirects attention to what he wants you to see. But all one needs to do to see the trick is to look elsewhere.

    There are places in Kiriakou’s story where he’s shaky. ABC, at least, failed to pin him on specifics that might have unraveled.

    • Retired

      The magician analogy is pretty good. Now, how do we get the MSM to look at the left hand while the magician is saying, “In my right hand I hold…”

  • There are non-state actors who have taken themselves outside the usual “polite” acts of warring states as defined by international treaty. They are, for all intents and purposes of fighting against them, in the same position as the pirates of old. The problem with our present administration is the TIME it seems to take for legal determinations as to the status of prisoners in this combat against these “pirates.” After “questioning” they are left in a legal limbo. The other problem is the degree of otherwise illegal activity conducted in detention facilities. We do not want or need this kind of illegality becoming the norm in our domestic prisons. Trying to sort out the necessary rigor to use against self declared enemies is difficult for any civil and polite society. So far in this period, the ogres within our society are winning the arguments about tactics and methods. It is very near to turning our society into one which accepts “ogres” as our protectors. That will rapidly turn into ogres as our directors. Although it may appear as being too late we must reach our congress with the message that we do not want to become a nation directed by ogres.

  • Retired, I agree with you that Kiriakou is very convenient. Though I see plenty of suspicion, I have yet to see any blogger go on record that this is disinformation. I’m hoping Larry will do so.

    • Retired

      Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe Kiriakou to be misinformation, quite the contrary. I believe him to be a well chosen, conveniently-timed source of carefully-crafted nuggets of information that he himself believes to be true and that would be almost impossible to disprove. Unless, that is, you had another Agency employee who had actually been trained in and employed the “enhanced” interrogation techniques that had been cleared by the Agency to publicly offer a different story. The surfacing of this latter employee is highly unlikely, they would never be cleared to speak. Director Hayden just sent a warning email to all current and certain former Agency employees today to make that point. In the information war, carefully constructed and delivered “truth” is a most powerful weapon.

      • reggie

        Is it just me, or does Michael Hayden bear a striking resemblance to The Mekon? (

        • reggie

          The Mekon

          Now tell me they weren’t separated at birth.

  • Michael Lafferty

    When you state that the agency would have turned to “…either the military or former military working as contractors…[because] the military did train interrogators at Fort Huachuca and they were familiar with enhanced interrogation methods, including waterboarding.” I am left to wonder if you are…

    • indicating that Army personnel or those of other branches were TAUGHT such techniques, or
    • that they were familiarized with them and taught that they were wrongful, and were out of bounds.

    I spent the better part of five years at Fort Huachuca, though I left in late 1976 and returned only briefly for an electronic warfare course. While I cannot put my hands on an appropriately dated Field Manual or other material from USAICS, I am reasonably certain that techniques such as ‘waterboarding’ were recognized as a violation of Army regulations as as criminal acts at that time.

    Am I wrong? Do you mean that interrogator training changed post Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al? I just wondered if you or another former member of the agency, a comparable agency, or an attendee at USAICS could clear up the apparent ambiguity in your statement.

  • So, Larry, is Kiriakou delivering disinformation on behalf of the Administration? Conceding the obvious (that waterboarding is torture) while selling the American people on the proposition that torture works?

    It’s certainly interesting that a man who is talking openly about methods has not been reeled in.

    • Retired

      Reeled in? Are you kidding? After he was so perfectly fly-casted out?

      Politically Kiriakou is a Godsend to both sides if the tapes are released or leaked. For the administration, he earnestly offers the choice of thirty seconds of discomfort (his words) for the guys that brought us four hours of airline security checks at Christmas as oppposed to thousands of American lives saved. For the Democrat-controlled Congress, he serves as a focal point for torture that distracts attention away from the fact that several of the key majority leaders in both houses were briefed and agreed with rendition and the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

      Merry Christmas!

      • TeakWoodKite

        Does he get to use his flies?
        Merry to you too.

    • Shirin

      I have been wondering the same thing.

  • Singleton

    During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Legal Rights of Guantanamo Detainees” this morning, Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, repeatedly refused to call the hypothetical waterboarding of an American pilot by the Iranian military torture. “I’m not equipped to answer that question,” said Hartmann.

    It’s now officially OK for our enemies to torture American POWs.

    • TeakWoodKite

      “I’m not equipped to answer that question,” said Hartmann.

      Mr Murder pointed out that Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann is Cheney’s guy, if I recall correctly.

      WTF! Does he need a note from his teacher to answer the obvious?

  • TeakWoodKite

    I am wondering how many of these Hill folks have a “Memo to self” like Rockefeller had when discussing warrant-less wiretaps and DB mining; Talon etc….and what legal loophole they represent. He was complaining in that letter that he wanted to consult with his staff because he was not familiar with the technology but couldn’t due to the security classification.
    In this case these folks that represent us don’t have the same excuse do they?
    From a moral , legal and political standpoint it is clear that some methods of “extracting” information described are beyond the pale.

    My main question at the moment is; How is it that this recently ex CIA agent is
    “given permission” to speak on this topic but Valerie Wilson can’t not say she worked from this date to this date?

    Sorry it doesn’t add up. John Kiriakou must be trying to get ahead of something he does not like.
    Jose as well. I keep hearing Bush in my head saying “WE DO NOT TORTURE”. (like a bad tune) and now in Dolby 5.1 John Kiriakou saying we did…I KNOW Bu$h is lying and since the gang of 8 from 2001 to now are complicit , it is really hard to imagine this turning into anything more than a political food fight, despite the severity of what occurred. Are we going to hear the Novak refrain?

    • Cee

      Mr. Murder mentioned the FOIA requests.

  • Philip Henika

    No Quarter:

    Why was waterboarding justified for a “guy [who] is insane, certifiable, [with a ]split personality”?

    The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light
    By Barton Gellman,
    a Washington Post staff writer who reports on intelligence and national security
    Tuesday, June 20, 2006; C01

    This article referered many times to:

    Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
    By Ron Suskind
    Simon & Schuster. 368 pp

    (1) “Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries “in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3” — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.” Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.””

    (2) “Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. “I said he was important,” Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. “You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?” “No sir, Mr. President,” Tenet replied. Bush “was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?” Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety — against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, “thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target.” And so, Suskind writes, “the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.””

    © 2006 The Washington Post Company

  • [Larry, the first 3 story grafs are duplicated.]

    So they knew fully, then. No wonder we’re hearing crickets from the Dem so-called leadership.

    Step down. All step down.

    • Actually, Porter Goss (who’s the “anonymous” source for all of this) is not telling the whole truth here:

      1) Pelosi was at one (1) briefing in late 2002. That briefing, per Pelosi, wasn’t particularly detailed — but a later one, which Jane Harman attended, was sufficiently disturbing to cause Harman to register a protest, in which Pelosi concurred. Of course, since the Dems were in the minority at the time, there wasn’t a lot else they could do about it.

      2) Goss, who saw the 2002 and later briefings because he was the ranking GOP member of the House intel committee (just like Pelosi and Harman were the Dem members of the same committee), was tapped in 2004 to run the CIA. He brought with him a guy named Jose Rodriguez. It was Rodriguez who trashed the torture tapes in 2005 — under Goss’ watch — in direct defiance of a court order.

      Think that Goss might want to deflect attention from that?

      Think that he’s also aware of how easy it is to get liberals to chow down on their own?

      Trust me, if Pelosi were on Goss’ side WRT torture, we wouldn’t be seeing Goss and his buddies do their damndest to try to derail her torture-tape probe with calculated smears. I fully expect before the month is out to see a bunch of hookers picked up from the Tenderloin district of San Francisco and paraded around as Pelosi’s lesbian lovers.

      • Retired

        “Goss, who saw the 2002 and later briefings because he was the ranking GOP member of the House intel committee (just like Pelosi and Harman were the Dem members of the same committee), was tapped in 2004 to run the CIA. He brought with him a guy named Jose Rodriguez. It was Rodriguez who trashed the torture tapes in 2005 — under Goss’ watch — in direct defiance of a court order.”

        For those who were actually there, we now know the limitations of PW’s access. Goss didn’t “bring Jose with him” when he became DCI. Jose is a career DO officer who, in fact, was still a bit in the doghouse when Goss arrived because of an earlier incident. Jose was appointed DDO because he was pretty much the only top level DO officer left when Goss and the Gosslings purged the senior DO ranks and the DDO and ADDO resigned in protest.

        And who is your pro-Pelosi/Harmon “anonymous source”? Those who know me are cracking up at your assertion that I’m speaking for Porter Goss.

  • FYI, I just got a “breaking news” e-mail from Human Rights First:

    Big news.

    Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on legislation that would establish one clear standard of humane treatment for all detainees in U.S. custody.

    Activists like you recently told lawmakers to stop stalling and stop the intelligence community’s use of cruel treatment. It worked. The vote is expected this Wednesday! But it could be close. …


    • Retired

      I certainly hope that they are careful in how “U.S. custody” is defined. Mr. Murder’s comment above is correct. Congress could be issuing letters of marquee and reprisal to commercial and foreign actors to take over rendition and special interrogation.

    • Kathleen

      Thanks Susan

  • GSD

    I think we should dunk the terrorists in water and if they float they are terrorists and if they sink they are innocent.

    -Mitt Huckabee

  • Mr.Murder

    Congress sets all laws regarding capture “on the high seas” or abroad.

    “To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. To define and punish piracies and felonies commited on the high seas, and offenses against the laws of nations.
    To declare war, grant letters of marquee and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

    Doesn’t terrorism, if it is not a “state actor” and thus immune to Geneva Convetion, itself become a designated duty of Congress to address? They addressed pirates, who acted both independent and at times were thought to have colluded with some state actors.

    These items are listed together by our Founders, Art.I, Sec8.

    • Retired

      They have addressed this issue. In 2002 and 2003, they were briefed in detail on a potential solution to the problem of non-state terror actors (i.e., rendition) and they told the CIA to “go get’em.” Wisely, this was all done sub rosa. Now they can deny it, up to a point. If try to hold the Agency officers that they unleashed personally accountable, John Kiriakous’ bretheren who were at those briefings are going to start showing up in the news, and they know it.

  • Tex3

    So this statement is correct?

    “Pelosi knew they were torturing. No wonder impeachment is off the table, it would mean her resignation. She was BRIEFED in 2002.”

    • Retired

      According to someone who actually sat in the briefings, yes.

      • “someone who actually sat in”

        You mean Porter Goss, who was the ranking GOP guy on the House intel committee until Bush tapped him in 2004 to run the CIA. He’s the guy who brought Jose Rodriguez on board. (You know, the guy who trashed the torture tape AFTER the court ruling that forbade just that?) Goss and/or Rodriguez have been going around speaking “on background” to the press in a frantic effort to take attention away from themselves, as the tape destruction happened on their watch.

        Pelosi has already said that while she was indeed at the late 2002 briefing, she’s also said that it wasn’t as detailed as the later briefing Jane Harman got in 2003, a briefing which caused Harman to write to the CIA protesting the techniques used (and Pelosi concurred with Harman’s protest).

        • Retired

          Take the red pill and believe what you want, PW. Both Pelosi and Harmon saw videos of the sites and the techniques and they approved of them. Neither was the least bit indignant at the time of the briefings, which were relatively close to 2001. Their statements and letters are very carefully crafted and Harmon’s loss of memory on the details of what she heard and saw very convenient. If Pelosi and Harmon really felt strongly that the techniques were breaking the law, or immoral, why didn’t they take stronger action? Because in the closed briefings, they concurred. Politically, they had to. If someone like Kiriakous had surfaced and said that waterboarding only took 30 seconds and could save lives back in 2002 and 2003, Pelosi and Harmon would’ve been laughed out of their press conferences by most Americans who had the memory of 9/11 fresh in their minds. These ladies are saints. They are politicians.

  • Retired

    Larry wrote, “Recruiting and debriefing sources is more akin to romancing someone. You are not looking for a one night stand, you want a relationship.”

    Off topic response: Except in the case of foreign national girlfriends/boyfriends. Then, because of the way the regs are written, you want a one night stand because you don’t have to report it to security.

    Sorry, Larry, as one who had to read those stupid reports before I sent them in, I just couldn’t resist.

    • hope4usa

      tsk tsk retired…..I bet you kiss and tell!!

      • Retired

        No, actually, if you were the one that read the reports you had to agree to become a eunuch. Don’t tell anybody, I cheated on that one.

  • Ron England

    Right on point!

    There is no reasonable deniability for this criminal president.

  • Tex3

    How come Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or any Democrats have not commented on any of this?

    • Retired

      Probably because at least Nancy Pelosi, along with both Republican and Democrat Senators and Congressmen, was given extensive briefings on foreign-located covert rendition/confinement sites, including detailed briefings of how “enhanced” interrogation techniques worked, as early as 2002-2003. She, and all of the members of Congress who received such briefings, agreed with the methodology. There are witnesses to that effect that attended the briefings, and these witnesses could be surfaced if Pelosi gets too far up on a high horse. This isn’t just an administration thing. The oversight committees were fully aware and complicit.

      • MEP

        From what I’ve read elsewhere only the “Gang of Eight” were “fully” briefed.

        • JerryB

          That’s correct and because of the highly classifies nature of these briefings they are restricted by law from discussing what they were briefed on. Also remember that at the time congress was in republican hands. If any of these dem’s had gone public they would have been cricified by the right with the full support of the media.

          • exactly jerry … and considering this adminstration’s total politicizing of the DoJ you can bet any democrat who dared leaked the facts would have been prosecuted in a heart beat.

      • retired your assertion about ms pelosi “She, and all of the members of Congress who received such briefings, agreed with the methodology. There are witnesses to that effect that attended the briefings” leaves me baffled. i thought these were principle only briefings … no outsiders. and even if that was the case, i would find it hard to believe the testimony of another person who was obviously vetted by the adminstration. i find you statement to be rather far fetched … sorry.

        • Retired

          They were principal only briefings. The witnesses were Agency employees. I’m sorry that you find it hard to believe, but I have talked to people who were there. I find it easy to believe because I myself have done such oversight committee briefings in the past on other topics and have seen the same behavior from members of congress, that is, tell you to your face in closed session that your proposal is fine and then deny any prior knowledge of it when it comes out in the public domain.

          • TeakWoodKite

            From you say it works both ways. The mere fact that there is a pattern of divergent public – private communications tells me laws are being bent, if not broken. The witnesses giving classified testimony on the Hill are in a position to provide collective “loop feedback” of a given position, same as Rocky has a need for a document in the safe. From an outsiders perspective there is a faulty veneer of truth. Cloak (and dagger)room conversations are never heard on C-SPAN.

          • Kathleen

            I keep wondering about the CIA attorneys who “designed and cleared” these “enhanced” techniques.

            In this recently exposed rape case of a KBR employee the news keeps repeating that the men who raped her may not be able to be tried, because they are “contractors”.

            During Blackwaters Erik Prince’s testimony in regard to the murders in Baghdad he seemed to mention “independent contractors” quite often.

            Larry mentioned the other day that it is likely that “contractors” conducted the “enhanced” techniques not CIA officers.

            So are all of these “contractors” out of the reach of U.S. law?

      • Mr.Murder

        Have we forgot about Poland?

    • mudkitty

      Because they could be tried for treason, and the penalty for treason is death.