Thursday, May 21, 2009

Um, Duh.

Specter Says Record Needed of Future CIA Briefings

"In a letter Thursday to the White House and leaders of congressional intelligence committees, Specter says this would prevent disputes later -- like the recent one over what and when House SpeakerNancy Pelosi was told about severe interrogation methods used on terrorism detainees.

He says if the dispute involves classified materials, the transcript could be reviewed by top members of the intelligence committees or even a court. Specter is a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee."

I thought that was pretty obvious.  I am hoping that one product of the Bush mess is that more stringent oversight will be conducted over the CIA by Congress.  dday at Hullabaloo has a great post about why that oversight is needed - members of both parties during the Bush years have said the CIA lied.

Another example of the "CIA lied" genre - Jane Harman regarding the videotape destruction:

"Lawmakers were initially told only of the existence of a single tape showing Mr. Zubaydah, said California Rep. Jane Harman, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, when she warned the CIA not to destroy that tape. A committee spokeswoman said it was told in the past year that there were 92 tapes, after Rep. Harman departed the committee.

'My jaw fell through the floor,' Rep. Harman said. 'My impression was that this was a videotape. I never imagined it would be 92 videotapes.' The CIA misled her, she said, and 'it may also be a violation of law.'" [emphasis supplied]

I don't know who is doing the briefing over at the CIA, and who is telling them what to brief Congress about, but that person(s) should be in a little trouble right now.  They would be if we were "looking back," anyway.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What They Want

From Howard Bashman over at How Appealing:

"For example, the 'attention grasp,' described as 'grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on either side of the collar,' is one of the 13 techniques employed in the past by the CIA and is listed in the Justice Department's May 10, 2005, memo. It is barred under the Field Manual. Unlike harsher techniques on the list, such as nudity, dietary control, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, CIA officials say they want the authority to use the attention grasp without going back to Washington for approval."

Here is another description of the "attention grasp," in official SERE language, describing its purpose, via Tom Burghardt:
"10. ATTENTION GRASP: Typical conditions for application: to startle, to instill fear, apprehension, and humiliation or cause insult."
Ok.  So the CIA apparently didn't get the memo that even new military commissions will, in Obama's own words,
"ensure that: First, statements that have been obtained from detainees using cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation methods will no longer be admitted as evidence at trial."
So the very source of the "attention grasp," SERE, describes the point of the "attention grasp" as to insult and humiliate.  Obviously the opposite of what is permissible in federal courts, and even in military commissions, Obama style.

Doesn't anyone in the CIA see the problem here?

I suppose you could do some legal gymnastics and try to explain how the "attention grasp" is not cruel and degrading.  But that's a road we've been down - and inching closer and closer to Bybee, Yoo, and Bradbury is not pretty.

Regarding Pelosi-Panetta

Mary McCarthy, per WaPo:

"In addition to CIA misrepresentations at the session last summer, McCarthy told the friends, a senior agency official failed to provide a full account of the CIA's detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat."
If the subject is truth, it's hard to guess why anyone would be in the CIA's corner.

Hi again, by the way.