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Thread: Possible plan regarding DOJ torture investigation?

  1. #1
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Question Possible plan regarding DOJ torture investigation?

    Wilkerson on Durham’s Investigation

    By: emptywheel Friday September 11, 2009 10:00 am

    A number of you have pointed to Andy Worthington's detailed interview with Lawrence Wilkerson. You should read the whole thing, if only to see Wilkerson tee up on Crazy Cheney.

    But the part I found most interesting is this bit:
    Lawrence Wilkerson: No. My wife thinks that ultimately there’s going to be something. I’m a little more cynical than she, but she’s convinced that this investigation that’s been going on [by John Durham] — very low-key, the guy’s very persistent, he’s very determined, he reminds me of [Patrick] Fitzgerald on the Valerie Plame case, and his starting point is the destruction of the videotapes, and I’m told he’s got a plan, and he’s following that plan, and I’m told that plan is bigger than I think. [my emphasis]
    While I was on the record as saying Durham's appointment probably meant the torture investigation would never go after John Yoo or John Rizzo or Addington (because it would be harder for an AUSA to go after so senior an official), I also said there's one scenario in which Durham's appointment could be a good sign. That's if the evidence Durham had discovered in the torture tape investigation was part of the new information that merited reopening investigations into torture itself that--even credible people seem to think--has already been investigated.

    Now, there are a few more breadcrumbs that suggest the lawyers may be as much a focus of this as the torturers. When Eric Holder announced the investigation, for example, he described the two inquiries as related and Durham's mandate as expanded.
    Assistant United States Attorney John Durham was appointed in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. During the course of that investigation, Mr. Durham has gained great familiarity with much of the information that is relevant to the matter at hand. Accordingly, I have decided to expand his mandate to encompass this related review.
    Then there's the detail that Holder decided he had to do an investigation after reading not just the torture memos and the IG Report, but also the OPR Report.
    But, then, Holder decided to take a close, personal look at the issues, and his perspective began to change. Holder is said to have been closely engaged with three sets of documents—a group of memoranda from the Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel, since repudiated by the Justice Department; the report of the Office of Professional Responsibility on these memoranda, which has been on his desk, awaiting review and release for months; and the report of the CIA’s inspector general reviewing in great detail the actual techniques used, guidance given by the Justice Department, and results or lack of results obtained.

    Holder released the first set of memoranda and his Justice Department publicly suggested that it would release both the related report and the CIA inspector general’s report—often viewed as the Rosetta Stone of the torture controversy. As he read through the latter two documents, my sources said, Holder came to realize the focal and instrumental role that Department of Justice lawyers had played in constructing the torture regime and in pushing it through when career lawyers raised objection. He also took note of how the entire process was orchestrated from within the Bush White House—so that more-senior lawyers in Justice, sometimes even the attorney general, did not know what was being done. And he noted the fact that the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a party, requires that a criminal inquiry be undertaken whenever credible allegations of torture are presented. [my emphasis]
    Finally, recall that Holder announced the investigation only after the new head of the Office of Professional Responsibility recommended doing so.
    The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.


    The Justice Department’s report, the most important since Mr. Holder took office, was submitted by Mary Patrice Brown, a veteran Washington federal prosecutor picked by Mr. Holder to lead the Office of Professional Responsibility earlier this year after its longtime chief, H. Marshall Jarrett, moved to another job in the Justice Department.

    There has never been any public explanation of why the Justice Department decided not to bring charges in nearly two dozen abuse cases known to be referred to a team of federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., and in some instances not even the details of the cases have been made public.


    It has been known that the Justice Department ethics report had criticized the authors of the legal opinions and, in some cases, would recommend referrals to local bar associations for discipline.

    But the internal inquiry also examined how the opinions were carried out and how referrals of possible violations were made — a process that led ethics investigators to find misconduct serious enough to warrant renewed criminal investigation.
    Now, I admit at the time that I thought Brown's recommendation might have served as cover and nothing more. But consider what this means. Brown picked up the OPR investigation from Marshall Jarrett (whom Holder quickly sidelined to another office at DOJ). According to this NYT article, the investigation focused not just on the torture memos, but also how criminal referrals were made. And that's the detail--at least according to the NYT--that led Brown to recommend Holder open up an investigation.

    Something about the way the Bush lawyers referred these investigations led those investigations to end inconclusively--and it's that something that Durham seems to have in mind as he pursues the torture violations themselves.

    So maybe Wilkerson's sources are right. Maybe Durham (and Brown and Holder) do have a plan.
    Emptywheel » Wilkerson on Durham’s Investigation

  2. #2
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Nov 2007


    One source of impunity?

    Yesterday I finally got around to reading the transcript from the excellent interview Andy Worthington did with Lawrence Wilkerson. Near the end of the interview, Wilkerson said, almost as an aside, with regard to Dick Cheney and his team:
    I even figured out that they were reading my emails, but I wasn’t reading theirs.
    That really stood out to me, because in other parts of the interview, Wilkerson talked about information that was flowing to him. It is clear that among the information coming in, it was very likely he got whistleblower emails about torture.

    Now think about the DOJ "investigations" [some of which are now being reopened by Holder] that failed to produce charges. Did Cheney and his team intercept the whistleblower emails and then "convince" the whistleblowers to not cooperate with the investigation?

    Witness tampering is an excellent route to impunity.

    Diary linked at my name.
    -- Jim White
    Letters: The "culture of impunity" -- in Iraq and Kenya - Salon

    Dick Cheney Spied on the State Department–Did He Intercept Torture Whistleblower Emails?

    By: JimWhite Friday September 11, 2009 2:33 pm

    Teh Crazy Spying Veep

    The remarkable interview of Lawrence Wilkerson by Andy Worthington published this week has a number of insightful revelations, including the now-famous conclusion by Wilkerson that Cheney is crazy. One bit, mentioned almost as an aside, stands out to me. Near the end of the interview, Worthington and Wilkerson are discussing Cheney's "team" that he had dispersed throughout the government. At the end of a paragraph we'll come back to later, there is this sentence:
    I even figured out that they were reading my emails, but I wasn’t reading theirs.
    Isn't that just lovely? The Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State finds out that a team led by the Vice President is reading his email without his knowledge (or, presumably, his approval). This is an especially important revelation because earlier in the interview, Wilkerson talked about the reports he got from various individuals, scattered across the globe, on a number of topics. For example, when discussing the attempted "infliltration" of "6’ 4” white males with 19-inch biceps" into foreign capitals, Wilkerson mentioned how he got reports of this activity:
    Other information came from other places like conventional formations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where I had people I knew in the military who were reporting back to me, usually by email, and also from the other side of the house, if you will, from the diplomats and the people in the embassies and the consulates and so forth in some of these countries,
    [emphasis added]

    It's not too big a stretch to believe that the next topic Wilkerson mentions includes information he received through the same sorts of sources (and emails):
    I’ve said before that one of the things that, with regard to the armed forces, has made me proud of a lot of those young guys out there — and young gals out there — was that a lot of these people apparently refused to do this stuff, and their leaders, whether they were captains or lieutenants, or whether they were majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, brigadier generals or whatever, were not eager to order them to, because they knew, from past experience, that when that happens, then you get whistleblowers, you get people who write their Congressmen, and call their Congressmen, and take pictures and so forth, so I was elated to hear that a lot of these young officers — in particular, young NCOs — were refusing to do this stuff, but nonetheless they were talking about what others were doing.
    Putting these bits together, it's easy to imagine that Wilkerson received reports of torture from individuals who refused to carry it out and were upset enough about it to report it to him, presumably in an attempt to stop it.

    That is where the pervasiveness of Cheney's web comes into play. Let's go back now for the full paragraph from which I took the first quotation. The context is that Wilkerson is discussing the remarkable day of January 13, 2005, when Colin Powell informed Bush that it was Cheney who was in reality running the country. When I first read this part of the interview, I was confused because Wilkerson and Worthington first confirmed the 2005 date for Powell's disclosure to Bush and then Worthington launched into a discussion of 2004. However, after further thought, I decided that it made sense for them to take some time before they told Bush:
    The sad thing is that, until early January 2004, I’m not sure we did either. I understood that there was a team, I understood it was highly placed and probably under the Vice President, I understood that it was membered in almost every aspect of the interagency group that dealt with national security, I understood they had a strategy, I understood they were ruthless in carrying out that strategy, and I understood that I was a day late and a dollar short, because they’d beaten me to the marketplace. But it took me a while to figure that out. I even figured out that they were reading my emails, but I wasn’t reading theirs.
    So Wilkerson and Powell realized in January, 2004 that Cheney was running things and did not tell Bush until January, 2005. Part of that delay could have come from caution. Wilkerson realized his email had been monitored, and he knew Cheney's team, although dispersed, was DoD based, and was "ruthless". That would seem like a good reason to take some time in informing the President of what they had learned, if they wanted to protect any whistleblowers who had come to them. In fact, waiting a year would allow most NCO's to rotate out of their active tour. Of course, they also had to proceed with caution to determine just when and how it would be safe to make the revelation. Sadly, it appears that Bush was either too dim or too intimidated to take any action in response to Powell's revelation.
    The Seminal » Dick Cheney Spied on the State Department–Did He Intercept Torture Whistleblower Emails?

    JimWhite September 11th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    A couple more points:

    1) It also is known that at least some State Department cables were read by Cheney’s team, so that covers another major route of communication for Wilkerson and Powell.

    2) It can be argued that Powell and Wilkerson held off on notifying Bush until 2005 because Powell resigned just after the 2004 election, and so they no longer were a part of the Administration.

    3) To speculate just a bit further, is it possible that the first round of DOJ investigations of torture (including those now re-opened by Holder for Durham to investigate) were hampered by Cheney’s team “convincing” the whistleblowers to back off on their allegations? If they had the emails, they knew who was making the allegations.
    The Seminal » Dick Cheney Spied on the State Department–Did He Intercept Torture Whistleblower Emails?

    Leen September 12th, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I watched the Bolton nomination hearings really closely. Even our Republican Senator Voinovich showed his conscience (it was written all over his face and in his words)

    The faces of Senators Biden, Kennedy, Kerry, Voinovich, Lincoln Chaffee when Biden continued to demand the NSA intercepts from Bolton allegedly having to do with spying on Colin Powell be turned over

    I thought this group of Senators were going to jump over the chairs, tables, etc during the Bolton nomination hearing to kick Bolton’s smug ass.

    Sidney Blumenthal wrote a bit about this alleged spying on Powell here…

    The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

    Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell.

    If the intercepts are released they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counter-intelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, who would resemble the hunted character played by Will Smith in Enemy of the State. Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the state department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee. But Rice so far has refused. What is she hiding by her cover-up?
    The Seminal » Dick Cheney Spied on the State Department–Did He Intercept Torture Whistleblower Emails?

    Sidney Blumenthal: The good soldier's revenge | World news | The Guardian

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