[News] CIA Torturers Running Scared

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 21 16:53:16 EDT 2009


September 21, 2009

The Terrified Seven

CIA Torturers Running Scared


Seven CIA directors­including three who are 
themselves implicated in planning and conducting 
torture and assassination ­ have asked the President to call off Holder.

Unable to prevent Attorney General Eric Holder 
from starting an investigation of torture and 
other war crimes that implicate CIA officials 
past and present, CIA officials, together with 
what in intelligence circles are called “agents 
of influence” in the media, are pulling out all 
the stops to quash the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation.

The most vulnerable of the Gang of Seven, George 
Tenet, is not the brightest star in the heavens, 
but even he was able to figure out years ago that 
he and his accomplices might end up having to pay 
a heavy price for violating international and U.S. criminal law.

In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet 
notes that what the CIA needed were “the right 
authorities” and policy determination to do the 
bidding of President George W. Bush:

“Sure, it was a risky proposition when you looked 
at it from a policy maker’s point of view.  We 
were asking for and we would be given as many 
authorities as CIA had ever had.  Things could 
blow up.  People, me among them, could end up 
spending some of the worst days of our lives 
justifying before congressional overseers our new freedom to act.” (p. 178)

Tenet and his masters assumed, correctly, that 
given the mood of the times and the lack of spine 
among lawmakers, congressional “overseers” would 
relax into their accustomed role as congressional 
overlookers.  Unfortunately for him, Tenet seems 
to have confined his concern at the time to the 
invertebrates in Congress, not anticipating a 
rejuvenated Department of Justice that might take 
its role in enforcing the law seriously.

Taking the Gloves Off

Tenet proudly quotes his former counterterrorism 
chief, Cofer Black (now a senior official at 
Blackwater): “As Cofer Black later told Congress, 
‘The gloves came off that day.’”  That day was 
September 17, 2001, when “the president approved 
our recommendations and provided us broad 
authorities to engage al-Qa’ida.” (p. 208)

Presumably, it was not lost on Tenet that no 
lawmaker dared ask exactly what Cofer Black meant 
when he said “the gloves came off.”  Had they 
thought to ask Richard Clarke, former director of 
the counterterrorist operation at the White 
House, he could have told them what he wrote in his book, Against All Enemies.

Clarke describes a meeting in which he took part 
with President George W. Bush in the White House 
bunker just minutes after his TV address to the 
nation on the evening of 9/11.  When the subject 
of international law was raised, Clarke writes 
that the president responded vehemently:  “I 
don’t care what the international lawyers say, we 
are going to kick some ass.” (p. 24)

It took Bush and Cheney only six days to grant 
the CIA the “broad authorities” the agency had 
recommended.  It then took White House counsel 
Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney’s 
lawyer David Addington, and William J. Haynes II, 
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s lawyer, four 
more months to advise the president formally 
that, by fiat, he could ignore the Geneva 
Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

This gang of lawyers so advised at the turn of 
2001-2002, beating down objections by William 
Howard Taft IV, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 
lawyer.  Bush chose to follow the dubious advice 
of those imaginative lawyers in his and Dick 
Cheney’s employ; namely, that 9/11 ushered in a 
“new paradigm” rendering the Geneva protections “quaint” and “obsolete.”

We Need to Tell You Also

Addington and Gonzales did take care to warn the 
president, by memorandum of Jan. 25, 2002, of the 
risk of criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 
2441, the War Crimes Act of 1996.  The memo said:

“That statute, enacted in 1996, prohibits the 
commission of a ‘war crime’ by or against a U.S. 
person, including U.S. officials.  ‘War crime’
defined to include any grave breach of the GPW 
[Geneva] or any violation of Article 3 thereof 
(such as outrages against personal 
Punishments for violations of Section 2441 include the death penalty

it is difficult to predict the motives of 
prosecutors or independent counsels who may in 
the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges 
based on Section 2441.  Your determination [that 
Geneva does not apply] would create a reasonable 
basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, 
which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.”

With that kind of pre-ordered reassurance, 
President Bush issued a two-page executive 
directive [see 
in which he states, “I accept the legal 
conclusion of the Department of Justice and 
determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does 
not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees

This is the smoking gun on Bush’s key role in the 
subsequent torture of “war on terror” 
prisoners.  It turns out that he was the 
“decider” after all, as Dick Cheney has taken 
pains to make clear (telling Bob Schieffer 
recently that Bush “signed off” on abusive 
techniques).  The Senate Armed Services Committee 
issued a report, without dissent, last December 
stating that that Feb. 7 memorandum “opened the 
door” to abusive interrogation practices.
Unhappily for Bush and for those who carried out 
his instructions, on June 29, 2009 the Supreme 
Court ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that Geneva 
DOES apply to al-Qaeda and Taliban 
detainees.  One senior Bush administration 
official is reported to have gone quite pale at 
the time, when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy raised 
the ante, warning that "violations of Common 
Article 3 are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses."

What about U.S. criminal law?  Despite the almost 
laughable attempts by lawyers like Addington and 
John Yoo to get around the War Crimes Act by 
advising that only the kind of pain accompanying 
major organ failure or death can be considered 
torture, those involved are now in a cold 
sweat­the more so, since those dubious opinions have now been made public.

The Justice Dept. Memos and CIA IG Report

In releasing the sordid, torture-approving 
memoranda written by Department of Justice 
lawyers and major portions of the CIA’s own 
horse’s-mouth Inspector General “Special Review” 
on interrogation and torture, President Barack 
Obama and Holder had to face down very strong 
pressure from those with the most to lose.

Again, these include former CIA directors and the 
functionaries (some of them in senior CIA 
positions to this very day) who were responsible 
for seeing to it that “the gloves came off.”

Now, out in the public domain is all the evidence 
needed to show that war crimes were 
committed­“authorized” as legal by Justice 
Department Mafia-type lawyers recruited for that 
express purpose­but war crimes 
nonetheless.  Torture, kidnapping, illegal 
detention­not to mention blatant violations of 
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) 
outlawing eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant.

The stakes are high.  No wonder the CIA and its 
“agents of influence” are going all out (see 
Saturday’s <http://tinyurl.com/mdrjff>lead story in the Washington Post.)

It should have come as no surprise that Attorney 
General Eric Holder would run into a buzz saw 
when he decided to do his constitutional duty and 
investigate whether crimes have been 
committed.  Certainly Cheney and Fox News had 
made that abundantly clear.  CIA seniors and 
functionaries with the most to lose are now pulling out all the stops.

In their Sept. 18 letter to the President, seven 
former CIA directors asked him to “reverse 
Attorney General Holder’s August 24 decision to 
re-open the criminal investigation of CIA 
interrogations that took place following the attacks of September 11.”

This is the saddest commentary on CIA covert 
action operatives’ continuing power and their 
disdain for the law since their predecessor 
creeps loudly applauded former Director Richard 
Helms for lying to Congress about the CIA role in 
the overthrow of Salvador Allende on 
9/11/73.  The largest CIA cafeteria was bulging 
with welcoming supporters of Helms, when the 
court got finished with him.  They then took up a 
collection on the spot to pay the fine the court 
had imposed after he was allowed to plead nolo contendere.

Among the most transparent parts of the letter 
from the Gang of Seven is their worry that “there 
is no reason to expect that the re-opened 
criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.”

Their concern is well founded.  Evidence already 
on the public record shows that the first three 
listed, Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, and George 
Tenet could readily be indicted for crimes under 
U.S. and international law, including:

--Illegal eavesdropping by the National Security 
Agency (Hayden was NSA director when he ordered 
his employees to violate the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act, which requires warrants from a 
special court before electronic eavesdropping is undertaken.)

  --Assassination planning without notification 
to Congress (Goss, whose uncommonly abrupt 
departure in May 2006 was never looked into by 
the fawning corporate media); and

--Tenet’s long list of substantive, as well as 
operational misdeeds carried out for the 
President and Cheney.  (“Slam-dunk Tenet” turned 
out to be right about at least one thing­that “things could blow up.”)

John Deutch: Arrogant to the point of 
criminality, Deutch disregarded the most 
elementary rules governing protection of 
classified information, and had to be given a 
last-minute pardon by President Bill Clinton.

R. James Woolsey:  the man who outdid himself in 
trying to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and in 
pushing into the limelight spurious intelligence 
from the fabricator known as 
“Curveball.”  Remember those fictitious 
biological weapons labs for which Colin Powell 
displayed “artist renderings” to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003?

William Webster:  Known mostly at Langley for his 
handsome face and his devotion to his 
late-afternoon matches with socialite tennis 
partners.  (Folks like Webster should recognize 
that, once they have reached what my lawyer 
father used to call “the age of statutory 
senility,” they should be more careful regarding 
what they let themselves be dragged into.)

James R. Schlesinger:  “Big Jim” launched his 
brief stint as CIA director by warning us all 
that his instructions were “to ensure that you 
guys do not screw Richard Nixon.”  To give 
substance to this assertion, he told us that the 
White House had said he was to report to 
political henchman Bob Haldeman­not Henry 
Kissinger, the national security advisor.  More 
recently, Schlesinger led one of the see-no-evil 
Defense Department “investigations” of the abuses of Abu Ghraib.

Their letter is also distinguished by a 
condescending tone, instructing the 
President:  “As President you have the authority 
to make decisions restricting substantive 
  But the administration must be 
mindful that public disclosure about past 
intelligence operations can only help al-Qaeda 
elude US intelligence and plan future operations.”

The seven then proceed to repeat the canard 
alleging that such collection “have saved lives 
and helped protect America from further attacks.”

It reads as though Dick Cheney did their first 
draft.  Actually, that would not be all that 
surprising, given his record of doing quite a lot 
of CIA’s drafting for eight long years.

Holder, hold that line.

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst 
for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering 
Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for 
Sanity. He is a contributor to 
Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, 
edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. 
Clair (Verso). He can be reached at: 
<mailto:rrmcgovern at aol.com>rrmcgovern at aol.com

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