Justice Department and CIA join in destroyed tapes investigation

Justice, CIA to probe destruction of taped interrogations

The Justice Department and the CIA will jointly investigate the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations of two al Qaeda suspects, a top official said.

The Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security, Kenneth L. Wainstein, announced the investigation Saturday in a letter to the CIA’s top lawyer, John Rizzo.

The probe will determine “whether further investigation is warranted,” Wainstein said.

CIA Director Mike Hayden said his agency will cooperate fully.

“I welcome it as an opportunity to address questions that have arisen over the destruction back in 2005 of videotapes,” he said. Watch the explainer on the CIA tapes controversy

President Bush and Vice President Cheney learned about the videotapes Thursday, when Hayden briefed them about the tapes and their subsequent destruction, administration officials said Friday.Video Watch the explainer on the CIA tapes controversy »

The tapes — showing using newly approved “alternative” interrogation techniques — were recorded in 2002, Hayden said Thursday in a letter to CIA employees.

At least CNN put the “alternative” in quotes. Bush has said that we don’t torture so we must euphemism some prisoners. This is going to drive people crazy trying to keep up with who knew what and when, then what actions they took and why didn’t they do more, Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Which brings us to Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Venice) Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Terrorism Risk Assessment who it is said did not do enough to stop the destruction of the tapes. Out of fairness she has replied,

CIA Director Hayden’s public statement yesterday, that some members of Congress were informed about the existence of videotaped interrogations of high value detainees, prompts me to respond.

In early 2003, in my capacity at Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I received a highly classified briefing on CIA interrogation practices from the agency’s General Counsel. The briefing raised a number of serious concerns and led me to send a letter to the General Counsel. Both the briefing and my letter are classified so I cannot reveal specifics, but I did caution against destruction of any videotapes.

Given the nature of the classification, I was not free to mention this subject publicly until Director Hayden disclosed it yesterday. To my knowledge, the Intelligence Committee was never informed that any videotapes had been destroyed. Surely I was not.

This matter must be promptly and fully investigated and I call for my letter of February 2003, which was never responded to and has been in the CIA’s files ever since, to be declassified.

Anyway No Quarter has a run down on who was in charge of what at the CIA from 2002 forward, More on Torture Tapes

And then there is the question of the DDO and ADDO. When the tapes were made Jim Pavitt was the Director of Operations (the guy in charge of the spies) and his Deputy was Stephen Kappes. But Stephen Kappes quit the CIA in a snit with CIA Director Porter Goss in November 2004, so he was not around in 2005 when the tapes were destroyed. Jose Rodriguez replaced Kappes. However, Kappes returned to the CIA with the current Director, Michael Hayden, and is the Deputy Director of the outfit. Stephen Kappes is likely to find himself in the hot seat answering some tough questions about the making of those tapes in the coming days. And Kappes must immediately recuse himself from any role in the current investigation of the matter at CIA.

Another personality likely to keep the media frenzy boiling is Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. Dusty replaced Buzzy Krongard, as the Executive Director of the CIA and was in that position when Jose Rodriguez allegedly moved unilaterally to destroy the tapes. Buzzy was Executive Director when the tapes were made.

Jose may present some porblems for Silvestre Reyes, the Democratic chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, since Rodriguez and Reyes are said to be friends. Not a particularly big deal since Reyes can and should recluse himself should Rodriguez become a focus of the investigation. Since the doors at the CIA leadership posts seem to have been revolving we’re bound to hear more names dragged in as things progress.

Right-wing Freedom Watch using the troops to advance agenda

NBC Decides to Run Conservative-Group Ad

NBC initially said that airing the spot would violate the network’s prohibition on controversial issue ads. Wurtzel, in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, said NBC found nothing wrong with the ad’s content, but rather objected to the link to http://www.FreedomsWatch.org, viewing the Web site as too political.
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“I think they had an agenda,” Blakeman said. “They didn’t like our Web site and didn’t like what we stood for.”

The group’s home page is critical of liberals and has a link to a page urging lawmakers not to “cut and run” from the war in Iraq. The home page also links to another Freedom’s Watch page dedicated to ways to assist the troops and provides links to organizations that send care packages to soldiers.

News of NBC’s initial rejection caused an angry reaction on the Internet. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appearing on the Fox News Channel on Friday, called for a boycott of NBC.

Freedom’s Watch, a group backed by wealthy Republican fundraisers, has emerged as one of the best-financed conservative groups. It seeks to be a vocal advocate of President Bush’s current policy in Iraq. (emphasis mine)

This group is all about being pro Bush policy, not pro military. They’re hiding that agenda behind the troops. What kind of special help is this organization offering that The Army Emergency Relief, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Air Force Aid Society, the USO and individual families and friends not offering. This is the first full paragraph on their front page,

Welcome to Freedom’s Watch

For too long, conservatives have lacked a permanent political presence to do battle with the radical special interest groups and their left-wing allies in government. Freedom’s Watch was formed to be the conservative voice fighting for mainstream conservative principles – today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. We engage in grassroots lobbying, education and information campaigns, and issue advocacy to further our goals and objectives. We create coalitions and collaborate with like-minded groups and individuals to further our common goals. Freedom’s Watch provides bold conservative solutions to pressing domestic and international issues to keep America strong, safe, and prosperous. Your support is urgently needed. Please join us today in helping to build a better America.

This is a political group using the military to advance an a far Right ideology and NBC has walked into the trap. Note the attempt to portray themselves as poor victims. They ran Congress for ten years, have a president that has made the biggest grab for imperial presidential power in our nation’s history, have a majority of their ideologues on the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit Courts, have their own network (Fox), have a huge presence in publishing including the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The New York Post and plenty of apologists at Time magazine and they’re whining about not being heard. On FW’s page to support the troops you’ll find E.D. Hill of Fox who has sit in with Bill O’Reilly. No sir there’s no way they’re politicizing their actions. Anyone that wants to do something for the troops, cut through the political middlemen who are in it for the propaganda value and give to the traditional organizations that are listed above.

FW also thinks that if you’re pro labor, you know the people that build America and make wealth possible, then you’re pro evil left wing agenda –

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Where was FW when a pro Constitution group wanted to run an ad on Fox, O’Reilly: Fox News Turned Down Pro-Constitution Ad Because It Was ‘Anti-American’ 

The Center for Constitutional Rights recently produced an ad called “Rescue the Constitution” that criticizes the Bush administration for “destroying the Constitution” through the use of tactics like renditions and torture. Fox News refused to air the ad, claiming that it needed “documentation” that the Constitution “is indeed being destroyed.”

In the ad, actor Danny Glover states, “Trials. Renditions. Torture. The Bush administration is destroying the Constitution. They can be stopped. Rescue the Constitution.”

Yesterday, while discussing NBC’s recent refusal to run an ad from the White House front group Freedom’s Watch, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly explained why Fox News turns down ads:

Yeah, but I understand why. Fox News turns down blatantly anti-American ads. We just turned one down recently. I understand that.

Using the troops to get publicity for your radical right-wing group is OK, but standing up for the Constitution and American values is not. Conservatives seem to live in an upside down world where they see all the values and principles which make us an enlightened democracy as wrong.