an amazing document that Attorney General Eric Holder released yesterday, which has still gained little attention. The Holder note presents a summary of CIA interaction with the White House in connection with the approval of the torture techniques that John Yoo calls the “Bush Program.” Holder’s memo refers to the participants by their job titles only, but John Sifton runs it through a decoder and gives us the actual names.Maybe I've missed this before, but this seems huge to me. Observe:
“[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”Wowzers. We had assumed, ever since the first August 2002 torture memo came out, that such shoddy "advice" had to be written for the purpose of authorizing what someone had already decided to do. But this is the first thing that, in essence, confirms that was the case.
The report continues to implicate more Bush officials: “On July 13, 2002, according to CIA records, attorneys from the CIA’s Office of General Counsel [including Rizzo] met with the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [Bellinger], a Deputy Assistant Attorney General from OLC [likely John Yoo], the head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice [Michael Chertoff], the chief of staff to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [Kenneth Wainstein], [Who he? -TBA] and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] to provide an overview of the proposed interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah.”
(Yes, in theory, CIA could've had this wish list but still been ready to drop it if OLC said no, and OLC could've been advising in good faith that all this was really okay ... if you believe that, I have some excellent mortgage-backed securities I'd like to sell you (and yes, I believe I have used that joke before, but no one reads my cruddy blog, so HAH)).
So, the $64,000 question: Where's Cheney? None of these people were Cheney's or Addington's creatures. Is Cheney less culpable than we'd imagined? Or -- and this is certainly what I'd expect CIA to say, but their motives are suspect -- did CIA "originate" this request at the behest of the Office of the Vice-President?
Scooter Libby had Addington's job back then, right? We suspected Cheney couldn't afford to let Libby go to prison -- the day the marshals came to pick him up, Libby might have started remembering a lot of things.