Not Just Criminal, But Stupid

Interesting op-ed in the NY Times from a former FBI agent with intimate knowledge of the process and debunks the “torture works nonsense” that is well worth a read, but contained this nugget as well:

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

If I remember correctly, and I may not be, one of the things that used to just incense right-wingers was Jamie Gorelick and the ability of different agencies to communicate. It has been so long, I don’t even know if that was true and just more of the typical BS from these guys, but it would seem that they one-upped Gorelick.

I may be misremembering things, though, so if anyone can fill in the details, that would be great.






32 replies
  1. 1
    4tehlulz says:

    For the righttards, the sanctity of the ability to torture overrides national security and public safety.

    Therefore, the communist Chinese wall is perfectly acceptable.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    If I remember correctly, and I may not be, one of the things that used to just incense right-wingers was Jamie Gorelick and the ability of different agencies to communicate. It has been so long, I don’t even know if that was true and just more of the typical BS from these guys, but it would seem that they one-upped Gorelick.

    Depends who was saying it. Serious Republicans have existed in the past, and the whole CIA / FBI firewall was a big sticking point in the freedom versus security debate.

    But under the Bush Administration, in retrospect, I’m amazed they even got CIA guys talking to Mohammad. They could have just sent in Karl Rove and the ’04 reelection committee to do all the interrogating and I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least.

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    It’s not just torture. The foreign policy establishment insists on the grand right to do any illegal and horrific activity which occurs to it, and simultaneously reluctantly agrees to whatever legalistic and plausible deniability hoops are required.

    So, if you want the CIA operations directorate to be able to hire terrorists and assassins and provoke coups, etc., you’ve got to make sure that doesn’t come back to looking like any official consciously and openly decided that.

    So when Ronald Reagan wants to hire a bunch of genocidal evangelical Guatemalan generals to slaughter the Mayan hill-dwelling population in order to protect a decades-old military tyranny which originated with the tax preferences of a U.S. agri-business, including arms, funds, diplomatic protection, PR assistance, and logistical aid, then you have to make sure to put up whatever false walls are required to keep anyone from ever really being ever to tie the leaders, i.e., Reagan to the systematic mass murder of several tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

    Oliver North understood this, and openly declared to Congress that he didn’t give a sh!t what they pretended to want to know. Ollie knew that Congress didn’t want its hands dirty either, and they like the deceit, as long as you don’t cross their prerogatives too much so that you get Congress in trouble for any oversight failures.

    The U.S. foreign policy establishment is far more committed to its prized ability to act illegally and horrendously anywhere, any way, any how, in world affairs than they are to any rational conceptions of U.S. security or national interests.

  4. 4
    srv says:

    reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11

    This is a canard. There was no legal obstacle that prevented the communication that would have helped. This was an ex-post facto excuse to cover their ass and blame Clinton.

  5. 5
    SGEW says:

    They could have just sent in Karl Rove and the ‘04 reelection committee to do all the interrogating and I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least.

    A fascinating parenthetical in the Ali Soufan op-ed:

    (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

    Probably not Rove and his buddies, but you might not be so far off.

    [edit: btw, what happened w/ th’ blockquotes? I used to be able to get rid of the bolding, but my [blockquote][p]text[/p][/blockquote] trick no longer seems to work. pout.]

  6. 6
    Napoleon says:

    Well the Republican party has become the party of stupid.

  7. 7
    omen says:

    what a reliance on torture highlights is that we lacked human assets on the ground, who spoke the language, who could infiltrate the taliban or al qaeda,

    the complaint about an overreliance on technology at the expense of developing human intel has been made for years and years. bush had 8 years to build this up but failed to do so. this failure so didn’t make the country safer. bush administration fired arabic speakers instead because they were gay.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    Jamie Gorelick personally caused 9/11 with her librul Chinese walls.

    I’ve read that word-for-word in a variety of places.

  9. 9
    SGEW says:

    Well the Republican party has become the party of stupid.

    It cannot be said enough:

    “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.”

  10. 10
    Cat Lady says:

    Here come the drip drip drips. Intel silos kept as many people in the dark as possible about the fact that they needed a false justification to go to Iraq, which is what they wanted to do from Bush’s first day in office. It’s going to get harder and harder for all but the hardest core delusional wingnuts to justify torture to get a false confession. The “keeping us safe” meme is going down in flames.

  11. 11
    gopher2b says:

    I know an FBI agent who worked at Guatanomo Bay and he has told me similar things. The FBI would get good information from people right up until the CIA made them “disappear” and it was all over. The FBI approach was dependent on building a relationship with the detainee and the CIA kept f’ing it up. Look at everything the FBI got out of Saddam by sharing cigars with him.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.”

    I agree with that, except for the “it’s like” part. Cf Joe Barton, (R-Chuck Norris Empire).

  13. 13
    sparky says:

    @El Cid: well that explains it all–no wonder we can’t find Bin Laden–he’s really Max Weber!

    /testing the limits of obscure comments

  14. 14
    omen says:

    didn’t ashcroft initially refuse a request by one of the agencies to examine moussaoui’s laptop?

  15. 15
    Stooleo says:

    Good post by Sully on how they handled interrogations when it really mattered.

  16. 16
    RememberNovember says:

    Contractors= Blackwater goons who pleasure themselves to the centerfolds of Soldier of Fortune.

  17. 17
    pragmatic idealist says:

    I heard Gorelick speak about this back when the Rightards were slamming her. She said the policy in question had been in place pre-Clinton. (can’t remember how many years)

  18. 18
    TenguPhule says:

    Well the Republican party has become the party of stupid.

    What do you mean become? It never stopped.

  19. 19
    RememberNovember says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Actually it started with Barry Goldwater.

  20. 20
    garyb50 says:

    2 words: Shock Doctrine.

  21. 21
    dmbeaster says:

    The Gorelick “Chinese Wall” was in place beforehand and still exists to some extent. It is based on the notion that you should not have intelligence gathering done overseas by methods illegal in the US then tainting criminal investigations. It raises real trouble with subsequent criminal prosecution in the case was put together in part with evidence obtained by means that are not legal for criminal prosecution. Nothing wrong with those methods for national security purposes, though. You just have to keep the efforts separate if you are serious about criminal prosecutions.

    Kind of like how it is now hard to crimnally prosecute terrorists who we tortured to get confessions, or when the evidence against them was obtained by torture.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @Stooleo:

    It is great. It gets to the main point, which is “in custody”, IMO. I think if you’re going to back torture, you made a choice, and you should know what you’ve decided. You’ve decided that you can brutalize those you picked up and made helpless, and that’s a big idea to abandon.

    “The Commandant obtained results without recourse to assault and battery. It was the very basis of Camp 020 procedure that nobody raised a hand against a prisoner.”

  23. 23
    Perry Como says:

    Here’s an article from 2006 with more on Soufan. It also touches on the “wall” between intelligence agencies. It was more about bureaucratic pissing matches than anything else. A bunch of career power jockeys were getting butthurt because someone was stepping on their turf.

  24. 24
    tofubo says:

    compare

    An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

    with

    Of all those speaking those two days, one person in particular caught Garner’s attention. Scrambling to catch up with the best thinking, Garner was looking for someone who had assembled the facts and who knew all the players in the U.S. government, the Iraqi exile community, and international organizations, and had considered the second-and third-order consequences of possible actions. While everyone else was fumbling for facts, this man had dozens of binders, tabbed amd indexed, on every aspect of Iaqi society, from how electricity was generated to how the port of Basra operated, recalled another participant.

    “They had better stuff in those binders than the ‘eyes only’ stuff I eventually got from the CIA,” said a military expert who attended.

    “There’s this one guy who knew everything, everybody, and he kept on talking,” Garner recalled. At lunch, Garner took him aside. Who are you? the old general asked. Tom Warrick, the man answered.

    “How come you know all this?” Garner asked.

    “I’ve been working on this for a year,” Warrick said. He said he was at the State Department, where he headed a project called the Future of Iraq, a sprawling effort that relied heavily on the expertise of Iraqi exiles.

    “Come to work for me on Monday,” Garner said.

    And Warrick did just that. A few days later Rumsfeld takes Garner aside and tells him he has to get rid of Warrick. “I can’t,” says Garner. He’s good, he’s smart, and he knows a ton about Iraq. Rumseld says there’s nothing he can do; the order comes from above. Garner goes to see Stephen Hadley, deputy director of the National Security Council. Hadley can’t do anything either. Later Richard Armitage explains it to Ricks. “Anybody that knows anything is removed.” And Warrick was removed from Garner’s team, undoubtedly on Cheney’s orders.

    planned kaos, the better to steal

  25. 25
    The Cat Who Would Be Tunch says:

    @omen:

    what a reliance on torture highlights is that we lacked human assets on the ground, who spoke the language, who could infiltrate the taliban or al qaeda,

    The CIA saw an increase of 5%, from 13% to 18%, over the last eight years in terms of people who were charged deciphering/translating intelligence that could speak a language other than English. Great strides, eh?

  26. 26
    Sasha says:

    @SGEW:

    A fascinating parenthetical in the Ali Soufan op-ed:

    (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

    Haliburton or Blackwater?

  27. 27
    The Pale Scot says:

    I googled Gorelick to refresh my memory and this is what I found at Wikipedia;

    ‘Gorelick grew up in Great Neck, New York where she attended South High School and at the time was known to get around with boys and numerous male teachers”

    Like, WTF?!

  28. 28
    mikefromtexas says:

    Anyone remember the Phoenix memo???? Written by an FBI field agent that somehow got all the way to Tenet’s desk at CIA in spite of that nasty wall Gorelick didn’t create? Only problem is it didn’t get half way up the chain at the FBI.

  29. 29
    Dave S says:

    I recall that a major finding of the 9/11 commission was that on 9/11, few of the emergency agencies was able to communicate effectively with others. FAA <> Air Force. NY city police <> NY state police <> NJ police. NY police <> NY fire dept. FBI <> CIA. Etc., etc.

    Wasn’t one of the justifications of the Department of Defending the Motherland Homeland Security that we needed to bring various agencies together in order to remove bureaucratic barriers to effective interagency communication?

    The CIA not effectively communicating with the FBI on matters of national security (“we heard traffic in Syria about something in the US that we, the CIA, can’t deal with; hey Fibbies, heads up!”) is Really Bad, imho.

  30. 30

    I agree that we should have other ways to infiltrate and find out more about the terrorist attacks. I wonder how much you can trust from confessions obtained through torture. Not only is there the legal question of whether or not the admittance will hold up in law, but the question to the right to obtain counsel. In my summary, using torture is merely to gain information and not build a case for prosecution, since that case will be hard to prove that prisoner rights were upheld. The fact that the two arms of the government were not communicating is disheartening.

  31. 31
    Mark says:

    I find statements like these to be very interesting “An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.”

    Exactly how was this gentlemen awarded the “knows most about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed” award? Was there an exam of some kind that everyone in intelligence community had to take? Of course nobody questions this statement however baseless it is. It could be that he indeed know the most about Khalid, but somehow I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion.

  32. 32

    […] FROM THE BLOGS: Speaks for Itself – J. Marshall, TPM Boehner Calls it Torture – Andrew Sullivan Not Just Criminal, but Stupid – J. Cole, Balloon Juice Klein: Jim Jones is Trouble – M. Goldfarb, Weekly Standard Recessions and […]

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  1. […] FROM THE BLOGS: Speaks for Itself – J. Marshall, TPM Boehner Calls it Torture – Andrew Sullivan Not Just Criminal, but Stupid – J. Cole, Balloon Juice Klein: Jim Jones is Trouble – M. Goldfarb, Weekly Standard Recessions and […]

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