Porter Goss and The Right Give Lessons In Betraying Our Nation’s Values

Former rabid Right Republican representative and Bush appointee to head the CIA Porter Goss ala former Bush speech writer Marc A. Thiessen writes an Op-ed in the WaPO that plays fast and lose with the truth, Security Before Politics

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

Memories of convenience combined with shrill false outrage are either part and parcel of the conservative mindset or one swears to adopt them as personality traits at the initiation ceremony. Pelosi: Bush Administration Never Briefed Congress On Waterboarding

Pelosi told reporters that the administration officials only told her and those in a classified briefing in the fall of 2002 that they believed they had the legal authority to do so, based on Office of Legal Counsel memos which have recently been released by the Obama administration.

“In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used,” said Pelosi. “What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”

Seeing that Goss along with the rest of the torture supporting chorus is against any former  investigations and special prosecutors  looking into who did what and when, and what they thought their legal justifications were, Speaker Pelosi’s call for prosecutions where appropriate, the math is simple enough. Goss and Mathiessen seem to have something to hide, while Democratic leadership does not – more on this angle from Emptywheel – The Bush Administration Did Not Give Legally-Required Prior Notification to Congress. If what an increasing number of Bushies say is true – Cheney, Therissen, Goss – then they should want hearings and investigations to prove they were right and their critics wrong. Yet they would prefer that they fight the issue out in the media, hoping to score enough propaganda points that they win some wave of popular sentiment without any real burden of proof. CIA reportedly declined to closely evaluate harsh interrogations

But officials said the document did not assess the quality of those reports. It also did not attempt to determine which methods were yielding the best information, or explore whether the agency’s understanding of Al Qaeda would have suffered significantly without the use of coercive techniques.

“Certainly you got additional considerable volume of reporting when you started up with anything enhanced,” the U.S. intelligence official said. “But nobody went back to say exactly what were the conditions under which we learned that which was the most useful.”

In fact, Helgerson’s (CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson)team had steered away from that question by design, the official said, hoping that agency leaders would turn to interrogation experts for a thorough study on which methods were working and which should be discarded.

How can one say that Congress was “fully” informed when the CIA had to undertake an investigation of its own techniques. Then having done some investigating steer away from questions regarding the consequences of torture, its effectiveness or whether the information elicited was only obtainable through torture. Politicizing the CIA and questions of national security is something that Goss should know something about, forcing one to suspect his latest editorial contains more projections then fact, 2004- Porter Goss’ purge at the CIA will ensure the agency is full of Bush yes men — but it will seriously damage U.S. intelligence. The first thing Goss did was appoint an unqualified political crony one of his executive directors.

…on Sept. 24, he named Kostiw, his chief staffer on terrorism, as his executive director, Langley’s third in command. The prospect of Kostiw, a partisan GOP Hill staffer, effectively running day-to-day affairs at the CIA was too much for some of his prospective employees to take, however.

Goss is now accusing critics of Bush era law breaking as partisan hacks, yet like so many Bush appointments Goss himself was a political hack, known for his loyalty to Bush rather then his expertise at intelligence management. That went prominently on display with his hiring of meat shoplifter Kostiw.

Into this den of anxiety stepped Goss, hardly a reassuring figure. Though Goss is a former CIA case officer himself (“a hundred years ago,” sniffs a former official), it didn’t exactly endear him to the agency when he shed his reputation for relative bipartisanship and professionalism to write opinion articles accusing John Kerry and other Senate Democrats of slashing intelligence funding while he chaired the House Intelligence Committee. (Never mind that Goss himself cosponsored a 1995 deficit-reduction measure that entailed firing 20 percent of CIA personnel over five years.)

Even more vexing to CIA veterans was Goss’ willingness as a congressman to demean the agency if it meant protecting Bush. Though Langley had successfully prevailed on the Justice Department to investigate an administration leak of the identity of undercover operative Valerie Plame — a potentially criminal act aimed at discrediting Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had exposed Bush’s duplicity about supposed Iraqi attempts at acquiring nuclear material from Niger — Goss dismissed the entire scandal as “wild and unsubstantiated allegations.” He tastefully told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in October 2003, “Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I’ll have an investigation.”

Given Goss’s unhinged past behavior and record of poor judgment, his current assertion in the WaPO Op-ed is both surreal and ironic,

Unfortunately, much of the damage to our capabilities has already been done. It is certainly not trust that is fostered when intelligence officers are told one day “I have your back” only to learn a day later that a knife is being held to it. After the events of this week, morale at the CIA has been shaken to its foundation.

Goss did plenty of back stabbing when he was CIA director, now he is suddenly concerned about morale. Bush’s CIA chief abruptly resigns under a shadow of alleged ties to a corrupt congressman and leaves a spy agency in chaos.

“Porter Goss was such an absolute disaster for the agency and our national security that his departure comes not a day too soon.” Daalder, now at the Brookings Institution, castigated Goss for creating “a climate of fear and intimidation at the CIA that produced a reluctance to take risks, which is the last thing you want in an intelligence agency.”

[  ]…There is no obvious connection between Goss and Cunningham, aside from their having served together in the House for 13 years. But the real mystery is how Foggo became the CIA’s executive director, the official in charge of day-to-day operations at the entire agency: He was a midlevel field officer with a procurement background when Goss appointed him in 2004

Goss’s departure also points to his latest assertion that he fully informed Congress of his activities,

Goss’ final accomplishment as CIA director — such as it was — was forcing out of her job a highly respected veteran intelligence officer, Mary McCarthy, for the purported leaking of classified information about secret CIA prisons abroad. McCarthy has denied being the leaker — and her more obvious offenses were serving in the Clinton administration and donating $2,000 to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. “Goss and company were just looking for someone to fire to prove that they were serious about leak investigation,” Beers said. “And they could portray her as political.”

Why would such leaks even matter if having black sites to carry out torture was supposedly so well known to Congress. 2005- White House Has Tightly Restricted Oversight of C.I.A. Detentions

Some Democratic members of Congress say the restrictions are impeding effective oversight of the secret program, which is run by the Central Intelligence Agency and is believed to involve the detention of about three dozen senior Qaeda leaders at secret sites around the world.

“If we’re going to do our jobs, we have to be informed,” Mr. Holt said in an interview. “The two members of Congress who sometimes get briefed on these things have enough to do. It’s too much to expect them to do oversight on things they can’t talk about to anyone else, including other members.”

Four years ago there was some debate, at least from non-Bushies, about the lack of intelligence information and oversight. Now Goss thinks that everyone should simply take his word. One assumes we should do that because Goss, Republicans and the Bush White House had such a stellar record of honesty.

To date, Congress has not opened any inquiry or held hearings on the C.I.A.’s detention program, despite indications that agency personnel were involved in abuses of some prisoners. That record is in contrast to the public scrutiny that the Congressional armed services committees have imposed on the military’s involvement in interrogation and detention, including the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The restrictions also appear to have had the effect of limiting public discussion about the C.I.A.’s detention program.

Goss countered at the time that Congress had been thoroughly briefed. Obviously what thoroughly briefed means to Goss is a matter of interpretation that remains to this  day. There is the wildest possibility that Goss is correct. That being the case he should welcome the release of any evidence that lends credence to his argument in addition to the appointment of a special prosecutor. One that will, if Goss is correct in his version of events, vindicate Goss. Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals

Not to worry, the president explained. “The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively, and determined them to be lawful.”

But that’s not how it happened. Staff reporting to Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., pored over 200,000 pages of documents and interviewed more than 70 people. After months going through the declassification process, their report is a stunningly frank tick-tock of the development of torture policy under the Bush administration. The sequence of events shows the early genesis of torture and also exposes repeated, vivid warnings — falling on deaf ears — that torture is a clumsy, wrongheaded and ineffective way to gather intelligence.

The report details how abusive interrogations began. “In December 2001,” the report says, “the DOD General Counsel’s office contacted the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for information about detainee ‘exploitation.'”

[  ]…In July 2002, a JPRA memo to the Pentagon included the warning that “the reliability and accuracy of this information is in doubt” if garnered from physical or psychological duress. “In other words,” the agency warned, “a subject in extreme pain may provide an answer, any answer, or many answers in order to get the pain to stop.”

The torture apologists at the National Review have always sounded like a bad Mad Magazine parody, they’re just getting worse. Obama Administration’s Assault on the American Warrior Commences

The target audience now includes the American Warrior. The Obama administration has abdicated the Warrior’s defense, refusing to appeal the 2nd Circuit’s decision that more photos should be released from investigations of the detention of enemy fighters from the battlefield. The Obama administration has sided with the ACLU and abandoned our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. This cannot stand.

Brace yourselves for the Obama administration’s full on assault on the American psyche…

Real warriors do not torture. Those that do are longer warriors they are war criminals. They are criminals whether they do it to us or we do it to them, Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.

More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. The plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to torture, including water torture. The court awarded $766 million in damages, noting in its findings that “the plaintiffs experienced human rights violations including, but not limited to . . . the water cure, where a cloth was placed over the detainee’s mouth and nose, and water producing a drowning sensation.”

In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners’ civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to “subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning.”

The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The sentence for the sheriff did not undermine U.S. law enforcement. It was not an insult to every sheriff or police officer. It sent a clear message about morality and the law. Make no mistake, National Review, among others is making the hang them first ask questions later defense. If Americans stand up for values and the rule of law, the terrorists would have or will kill us as we sleep. This has been their response about war, justice and morality for as long as there has been a right-wing movement. The military and some some genuine Republicans have thought for over a hundred years that torture is unamerican, Retired Judge Advocates General Write To Leahy Condemning Waterboarding

In connection with those hearings the sitting Judge Advocates General of the military services were asked to submit written responses to a series of questions regarding “the use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning (i.e., waterboarding) . . .” Major General Scott Black, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General, Major General Jack Rives, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral Bruce MacDonald, U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, and Brigadier Gen. Kevin Sandkuhler, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, unanimously and unambiguously agreed that such conduct is inhumane and illegal and would constitute a violation of international law, to include Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

We agree with our active duty colleagues. This is a critically important issue – but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America’s military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture – no less than wanton killing – is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance. It is essential to be clear, specific and unambiguous about this fact – as in fact we have been throughout America’s history, at least until the last few years. Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product, at least in part, of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well- established legal principles applicable to this issue. This must end.

The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink. For the Rule of Law to function effectively, however, it must provide actual rules that can be followed. In this instance, the relevant rule – the law – has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise – or even to give credence to such a suggestion – represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.

The National Reveiw, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and a gutter full of other rightwingers have decided to continue the crusade against the “core values of our nation”, once again disgracing our flag as they wrap their garbage in it.


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