Disentangling Torture TapeGate By Larry Johnson (timeline)

Dandelion Salad

By Larry Johnson
After Downing Street
No Quarter

After querying former intelligence officers and reviewing the letter from the U.S. Attorney’s in Richmond, Virginia, I can clarify some issues surrounding what’s what with respect to the question of the “destruction” of interrogation tapes and speculate on others.

For starters it appears that the June 2005 decision of the Italian judge to issue arrest warrants for C.I.A. officers and contractors involved in the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in 2003 may have been the precipitating incident convincing Jose Rodriguez that Agency must destroy video tapes of terrorist interrogations. That operation was conducted with the full knowledge and approval of the Italians. If the Italians could flip on us that meant anyone could.

Let’s follow the timeline:

March 2002–Abu Zubaydah is captured in Pakistan. George Bush is briefed regularly by George Tenet on the details of Zubaydah’s interrogation (see p. 22, State of War by James Risen). Cofer Black is in charge of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and oversees the CIA’s hunt for the terrorists. Zubaydah is interrogated in Thailand, where the sessions were filmed. He was waterboarded sometime in the May-June 2002 time frame. Enhanced interrogation methods were used and approval for them came from Jim Pavitt (see p. 21 of ABC News interview of former CIA case officer, John Kiriakou). Pavitt was the DDO (i.e., Deputy Director of Operations). Stephen Kappes, who currently serves as the Deputy Director of the CIA, was named Assistant Deputy Director of Operations in June 2002. Ron Suskind confirms Risen’s report that the President and his National Security team were regularly briefed on the results of Zubaydah’s torture sessions (see The One Percent Doctrine, pp. 111-115).

What we know for certain is that the CIA was keeping the President and his National Security team fully briefed on the methods and results of interrogating Abu Zubaydah. In fact, it is highly likely that George Tenet showed part of the videotape of the interrogation to the President.

November-December 2002–Cofer Black leaves the C.I.A. and is sworn in as the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State. Jose A. Rodriguez takes over the helm of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center.

9 May 2003–C.I.A. declares in sworn statement to Judge Leonie Brinkema that it was not recording interrogations of terrorist suspects in any format (see p. 4 of letter to Federal Judges by U.S. attorneys Novak and Raskin).

June 2004–George Tenet resigns as Director of the C.I.A. James Pavitt retires. Stephen Kappes replaces Pavitt as DDO.

September 2004–Porter Goss sworn in as Director of the C.I.A.

November 2004–Stephen Kappes resigns from the C.I.A. in a dispute with Porter Goss and the his aides. Jose Rodriguez takes over as the DDO.

late June 2005–An Italian judge issued arrest warrants for 13 U.S. CIA agents accused of kidnapping imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Italy in 2003, and sending him to Egypt for questioning regarding possible terrorist activities.

14 November 2005–In response to an order of the U.S. District Court for the C.I.A. to confirm or deny that it has video or audio tapes of interrogations of C.I.A. subjects, the C.I.A. the “U.S. Government does not have any video or audio tapes of the interrogations of (two terrorist suspects whose names are blacked out)” (see p. 4 of U.S. Attorney letter).

June 2006–Michael Hayden takes over as Director of the C.I.A. and Stephen Kappes returns as the Deputy Director of the C.I.A.

13 September 2007–C.I.A. notifies the U.S. Attorneys in Richmond, Virginia that it had discovered the videotape of the interrogation of terrorists whose names are blacked out in the declassified letter (see. p. 2 of the letter).

19 September 2007–The U.S. Attorneys view the video tape. Attorneys direct the C.I.A. to search its files again for relevant material.

18 October 2007–C.I.A. provides the U.S. Attorneys with an additional video tape and an audio tape of an interrogation. The U.S. Attorneys compare the video tapes with the operational cables (i.e., written reports) reporting the results of the interrogations. They determined that the reports accurately reported what was viewed on the video tape.

This is an important point–the substance of what transpired during those interrogations was given to the Moussaoui defense team.

So. Who did what?

Jose Rodriguez has been fingered as acting unilaterally, but that is not true. He did check with both the IG and the DO’s assigned Assistant General Counsel before destroying the DO’s copies of the tapes. Although Jose is a lawyer, he made the mistake of trusting fellow lawyers, and now is likely to get chopped up in the political meat grinder while trying to clear his name and reputation. The only thing that might save him a bit is that he and Congressman Reyes are buddies, which is what Congressman Reyes may have meant when he told the NYT today that he (Reyes) “was not looking for scapegoats.”

This isn’t the first time that Jose has had his tit in a ringer. During Iran-Contra, he and another C.I.A. officer were summoned to DC for questioning by the FBI. He could prove that he had asked for, and never received, DCI confirmation through cable command channels that Ollie North’s orders were legit, and thus diplomatically told Felix Rodriguez to pound sand. However, when it was thought that he was going to be called to testify on the Hill, the DCI’s office told him that, despite what the regulations said, OGC would not provide him legal support for acting within his authority and the law. Then C.I.A. Director told Jose thru a friend that Iran-Contra was “political, get your own lawyer.”

Jose Rodriguez did not consult beforehand with Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. However, Jose did inform Dusty subsequently of the advice he received from the OGC’s counsel. Jose may not be in as much trouble as some imagined. If he destroyed the tapes before November 14, 2007 then the C.I.A. told the truth to the judge. The May 2003 date puts the onus on Jim Pavitt and George Tenet rather than Jose Rodriguez. They knew about the tapes and the C.I.A. General Counsel lied to a Federal Judge. Who told whom what then? That’s going to be the interesting question.

And last but not least. The top two Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees–the so-called “gang of eight”–were fully briefed in interrogation techniques several times during 2002-3. They concurred unanimously that the interrogation techniques were OK. This means that Democrats as well as Republicans backed this process.

All for now boys and girls. Stay tuned.

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12.07.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Olbermann: Bushed! + Tale of the Tapes + Tortured Justice + Worst (videos)

CIA photos ’show UK Guantanamo detainee was tortured’ By Robert Verkaik

‘Well-Informed’ Source Tells CBS That Tapes Were Destroyed To Prevent Prosecution h/t: ICH

Simple Error My Ass – Loose Nukes by Larry C. Johnson

Dandelion Salad

by Larry C. Johnson
Atlantic Free Press
Monday, 24 September 2007

Well, if you buy the nonsense reported in the Washington Post, I have a bridge to sell you. According to Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus, the snafu involving missing nukes was just a bad mistake. They write:

A simple error in a missile storage room led to missteps at every turn, as ground crews failed to notice the warheads, and as security teams and flight crew members failed to provide adequate oversight and check the cargo thoroughly. An elaborate nuclear safeguard system, nurtured during the Cold War and infused with rigorous accounting and command procedures, was utterly debased, the investigation’s early results show.

Sorry boys and girls, but that is nonsense. You do not walk into an ammo/weapons bunker and sort thru a bunch a cruise missiles like a college freshman searching their laundry basket in the dark for a pair of matching socks.

Despite the appearance of a meticulous report, Warrick and Pincus leave some enormous holes unfilled. Consider this, for example:

A munitions custodian officer is supposed to keep track of the nuclear warheads. In the case of cruise missiles, a stamp-size window on the missile’s frame allows workers to peer inside to check whether the warheads within are silver. In many cases, a red ribbon or marker attached to the missile serves as an additional warning. Finally, before the missiles are moved, two-man teams are supposed to look at check sheets, bar codes and serial numbers denoting whether the missiles are armed.

Why the warheads were not noticed in this case is not publicly known. But once the missiles were certified as unarmed, a requirement for unique security precautions when nuclear warheads are moved — such as the presence of specially armed security police, the approval of a senior base commander and a special tracking system — evaporated.

So let’s see: not only did the munitions custodian officer lose track of the warheads, but an additional two-man team failed to record the pertinent data, and the pilots did not inspect the weapons. And now we learn that nukes and conventional weapons are stored together willy-nilly?

One main question remains unanswered? Why are such weapons being taken to Barksdale, Louisiana, which is the jump off base for Middle East ops? Just asking.
Going thru my mailbox came across the following from a friend and former B-52 pilot. The pilot’s views inform my observations.

Recently the news media reported a USAF B-52 taking off from Minot AFB, ND and landing at Barksdale AFB, LA with six nuclear weapons aboard. The big question is how or why this could happen?

First of all I have to say we are not privileged to all of the information and may never know the underlying circumstances of this occurrence. The Department of Defense declared this entire event was a mistake and would investigate what actually happened.

Obviously there are two possibilities: 1. this was an error and the events that occurred were a tragic mistake of far reaching proportions; and 2. the nuclear weapons were moved on purpose.

The United States has had nuclear weapons for over sixty years. Through out this time the tracking, storage and movement of these weapons has been performed without any type of security problem. The chain of custody procedures has been refined to the nith degree to insure that there will never be a mistake. The access to, movement of, and custody of these weapons is so tightly controlled, each serial numbered weapon has to be signed for when possession of it changes (from one person to another), then only after receiving a lawful order to do so. In order to load a nuclear weapon onto an aircraft the Weapon’s Depot Commander must receive a lawful order from above. The order is sent down (in writing) to one of the bomb shelter custodians and the weapon is signed out to a Loader. The Loader, loads the weapon onto an aircraft and will keep the weapon/aircraft under surveillance with the aircraft under armed guard by the Security Police in an isolated protected area until the Aircraft Commander performs his pre-flight inspection on the aircraft and signs a receipt for each of the weapons by serial number. Once delivered at their destination the Aircraft Commander would receive a receipt for the weapons by serial number from the receiving facility.

With all of the necessary orders and paperwork required just to move a nuclear weapon from one room in a storage facility to another, it can be stated with some sort of certainty that this was not a casual mistake as the Department of Defense has eluted to.

Then if the movement wasn’t a mistake, it obviously was done with some sort of purpose in mind.

The destination of the aircraft was Barksdale AFB, LA from which a number of the strikes on the Middle East have initiated. Speculation would lead us to believe the weapons were being stockpiled at this facility for a possible strike somewhere in the world. Additional speculation would also lead us to believe the strike was to occur in the very near future. Why else the need to forego the normal overland transportation procedures for nuclear weapons and risk flying them to their destination in violation of a treaty with the Russians. Also how is it the press was aware of this movement? After all who would be suspicious of a B-52 taking off from a B-52 base and a B-52 landing at a B-52 base. This event goes on many times each day for practice missions and training. Some one had to have leaked the information to the press that the U.S. was moving nuclear weapons by air in a treaty violation.

This leads us to two possible scenarios.
1. Whoever leaked the information would have been someone in a position of authority knowing what was going on and concerned the U.S. was actually attempting to use nuclear weapons somewhere in the world and wanting to stop it by exposing it. This someone would have had to have a security clearance of some kind and violated the trust under which it was issued thus being exposed to severe penalties and jail time for potential treason etc. Facing such severe penalties someone would have to be totally committed to his/her own conscience/moral beliefs. This preemptive exposure would put the U.S. on a difficult footing and loss of the surprise factor, thus potentially curtailing the mission.
2. The other possibility would be the information on the flight was leaked on purpose in an attempt to influence a foreign government, group or situation to move in a particular direction. That the U.S. was “Saber rattling” and the stakes were high enough to risk antagonizing the Russians to accomplish it. (With the possibility the Russians were supporting the action and willing to overlook the violation as exemplified by their lack of response in the entire situation.)

In either case we have only seen some minor actions taking by the Department of Defense in an attempt to say; well, by accident we left a few nuc’s laying around on some missiles we were going to destroy and they accidentally got loaded onto a plane that by some coincidence happened to be going to a base other than the one it was assigned to (we rarely fly B-52’s assigned at one station to another station). B-52’s usually take off from their home base, fly their mission anywhere in the world by aerial refueling and then return to the base from which they departed. Often these flights take over 20 to 30 hours. If this was a mistake what is happening to the general officers in the chain of command who would have had to issue lawful orders for the movement of those weapons and all those in the custodial chain who would have had to sign for each weapon as they gained possession of them? It just doesn’t add up. Especially when there is a line item in the budget before Congress to upgrade the missiles the Air Force says they were about to destroy. There appears to be too many loose ends still dangling. In addition to all of this did anyone notice how quickly this entire situation quieted down. Usually the press would play on such a world shaking event for months. They do for other things like the first birthday of Anna Nicole’s daughter. We’ve heard about that for weeks on end. But, for a world event with treaty violation implications, no protests from the other treaty signers or other major world players, we get about three days of news attention and it goes away. It seems the exposure has played its roles and has gone away with hopes all is forgotten.

In closing, again we are not privileged in knowing all of the facts and undercover goings on in this matter to be fully aware of what the real intent of this action, but it appears to be more than what the surface information appears.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

U.S. Staging Nukes for Iran? by Larry Johnson

A Major Mistake Involving Nuclear Warheads (video) + B-52 flew nuclear bombs across US by mistake

Why was a nuclear-armed bomber allowed to fly over the US? by Bill Van Auken

U.S. Staging Nukes for Iran? by Larry Johnson

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Johnson
Global Research, September 8, 2007
Booman Tribune

Why the hubbub over a B-52 taking off from a B-52 base in Minot, North Dakota and subsequently landing at a B-52 base in Barksdale, Louisiana? That’s like getting excited if you see postal worker in uniform walking out of a post office. And how does someone watching a B-52 land identify the cruise missiles as nukes? It just does not make sense.

So I called a old friend and retired B-52 pilot and asked him. What he told me offers one compelling case of circumstantial evidence. My buddy, let’s call him Jack D. Ripper, reminded me that the only times you put weapons on a plane is when they are on alert or if you are tasked to move the weapons to a specific site.

Then he told me something I had not heard before.

Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can’t imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

His final point was to observe that someone on the inside obviously leaked the info that the planes were carrying nukes. A B-52 landing at Barksdale is a non-event. A B-52 landing with nukes. That is something else.

Now maybe there is an innocent explanation for this? I can’t think of one. What is certain is that the pilots of this plane did not just make a last minute decision to strap on some nukes and take them for a joy ride. We need some tough questions and clear answers. What the hell is going on? Did someone at Barksdale try to indirectly warn the American people that the Bush Administration is staging nukes for Iran? I don’t know, but it is a question worth asking.

Global Research Articles by Larry Johnson


A Major Mistake Involving Nuclear Warheads (video) + B-52 flew nuclear bombs across US by mistake

Why was a nuclear-armed bomber allowed to fly over the US? by Bill Van Auken

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London Bomb – What a Crock of Crap!! by Larry C Johnson

by Larry C Johnson
Friday, 29 June 2007

So I turn on the telly this morning and find breathless CNN anchors hyperventilating over the nuclear suicide car weapon of mass destruction discovered smoldering outside of a London nightclub. One report from the scene notes that:

London police were contacted when witnesses saw a Mercedes being driven erratically near London West End night club Tiger Tiger, and the driver jumped out of the automobile and ran away. The car was reported to have two gasoline canisters and be full of nails.

CNN adds:

Explosives officers discovered the fuel and nails attached to a “potential means of detonation,” inside the vehicle. Officers “courageously” disabled the trigger by hand, he said. Security sources told CNN that the “relatively crude device” in the first car contained at least 200 liters, or about 50 gallons, of fuel in canisters.

You know what you call a vehicle with 50 gallons of gas? A Cadillac Escalade. The media meltdown over this incident is simply shameful.

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