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Cofer Black Headed Unit Alleged to Torture Detainees and Withhold Pre-9/11 Warning Memo to FBI

In the Osama bin Laden story, a former CIA official with the unlikely name "J. Cofer Black" is the character who seems to pop up in the most interesting places.  

Indeed, Mr. Black is the one person at CIA who admits to having dealt with bin Laden, face-to-face, after the Soviets departed Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

During the last few years of his CIA career, Cofer Black had an extraordinarily focused, unusual assignment. Until he retired from CIA in late 2002, Cofer Black was one of the few officers within the clandestine service with a real subject matter expertise.   Black’s specialty was Usama bin Laden, "UBL", as he’s known in U.S. intelligence circles.

From 1999 until May 2002, Black was in charge of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center, at which some historic decisions and catastrophic failures took place.  

While Chief of Station in Sudan in the early 1990s, Black oversaw CIA contact with UBL; al Qaeda flowed in a straight line through Cofer Black to 9/11 and to the present day privatization of intelligence as Vice Chairman of Blackwater, LLC, and as Mitt Romney’s advisor on national security.

Most career officers in the CIA clandestine division are generalists who move from station to station, assigned to fill slots in countries where their foreign languages and backgrounds are needed. Not Cofer Black.  He was a specialist.

Before his reassignment, announced in a back-page Washington Post article on May 17, 2002, Black, Chief of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), was in charge of renditions and the interrogation of detainees captured and held abroad.  That puts Black at the immediate head of the chain-of-command for operational decisions made up until that date in the torture of CIA prisoners held at "black sites" around the world.

James Risen writes in his book about the CIA’s counter-terrorism operations, State of War, cited at,

The CIA assigned a group of agency officials to try to find alternative prison sites in countries scattered around the world. They were studying, said one CIA source, "how to make people disappear."

There were a number of third world countries, with dubious human rights records, willing to play host. One African country offered the CIA the use of an island in the middle of a large lake, according to CIA sources, and other nations were equally accommodating. Eventually, several CIA prisons were secretly established, including at least two major ones, code-named Bright Lights and Salt Pit. A small group of officials within the CIA's Counterterrorist Center was put in charge of supporting the prisons and managing the interrogations.


Bright Light is one of the prisons where top al Qaeda leaders--including Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the cenral planner of the September 11 attacks--have been held. Bright Light's location is secret, and it has been used for only a handful of the most important al Qaeda detainees. (30)(emphasis added)

Under Cofer Black’s Command

"A small group of officials within the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center was put in charge of supporting the prisons and managing the interrogations."

By most accounts, Abu Zubaydah was taken into custody in March, 2002 in Pakistan, and after initial U.S. interrogation and treatment for gunshot wounds, sent to a secret CIA torture center in Thailand, where he was waterboarded, in April or May 2002. [FTN. 1]  See, e.g., Larry Johnson’s timeline,

If the Johnson timeline is indeed accurate, at the time Abu Zubayda torture was videotaped, Cofer Black was CTC Director, and he shares command responsibility for that action with his CIA superiors right up through McLaughlin and Pavitt to George Tenet and the President.

Nonetheless, the really significant thing about Cofer Black is that he was also in charge of CTC on 01/15/2000 when Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, the Flt. 77 Pentagon hijackers, entered the U.S. What’s so significant about that? The pair’s entry into the U.S. was noted by CTC after they attended an al-Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumur – monitored by the CIA -- where 9/11 and the USS Cole attacks were mapped out in January 5-8. Just so happens, al-Hazmi had earlier trained at Abu Zubayah’s camp in Afghanistan, along with five of the other 9/11 hijackers.  There is, indeed, a striking symmetry to this.  See,

The second al-Qaeda figure tortured at that time, Abd al-Nashiri, also had a role in recruiting and training the 9/11 attack cell, and was the architect of the Cole bombing. These two worked closely with another trainer, Sakkra, who now states that he was a double-agent working for U.S. and Syrian intelligence in organizing al-Hazmi and the others as part of the CIA’s secret war in Chechnya. See,

Here’s the kicker. Cofer Black was CIA Chief of Station in Khartoum at the same time bin Laden made his base of operations there. Abu Zubaydah was with bin Laden in Sudan. Black admits he had a confrontation with UBL shortly before they both left Sudan in 1996. Bin Laden went to Afhanistan. Black was later made commander of CIA CTC, where he maintained his focus on UBL.

Bottom-line: Cofer Black was in immediate command of CTC at the time CIA let the Flt. 77 hijackers into the U.S. — and an intentional decision was then made at CTC not to alert the FBI when they came in — and Cofer Black was in immediate command of the CIA unit that tortured those who knew the details of the CIA’s role in training at least six of the 9/11 hijackers.  Both of those tortured under Black’s command were waterboarded, which cuts off oxygen to the brain, and can result in long term memory loss.  Abu Zubaydah is said to have been driven mad by waterboarding and sensory driving techniques, as was Jose Padilla, who AZ fingered during interrogation. See,
Why torture detainees and then "erase" the tapes? In the context of the CIA’s long relationship with Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, this begins to make sense now, doesn’t it?

SUDAN and BOSNIA: Cofer Black and UBL (1993-95)

According to his official biography, Black went to work for CIA fresh out of USC in 1973 where he worked for two decades in various field assignments in Africa, including involvement in Rhodesian and South African proxy wars, until being posted under diplomatic cover as Chief of Station in Khartoum, Sudan.  

According to Steve Coll in "Ghost Wars", the main activity of the CIA Khartoum station under Black was UBL.

At this time, the U.S. and Islamic militants were still doing business in the secret war against the Russians in Bosnia.  The covert operation to dislodge Russian surrogates from the Balkins and Caspian Sea involved the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran in organizing, supplying and funding radical Islamic fighters.  In an extraordinarily complex, messy struggle for the disintegrating Yugoslavia on the southern flank of the Former Soviet Union, that strange alliance fought the Serbs, who were in turn supplied by other NATO and U.S. allies, including Greece and Israel, along with the Ukraine, acting as a Russian surrogate.  All parties involved were in violation of UN weapons embargo, which the Dutch and some other European countries were helplessly attempting to enforce.

That episode was chronicled in a 2002 Dutch Government report. According to the Independent newspaper (UK), the Dutch:

findings are set out in "Intelligence and the War in Bosnia, 1992-1995". It includes remarkable material on covert operations, signals interception, human agents and double-crossing by dozens of agencies in one of dirtiest wars of the new world disorder. Now we have the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims - some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in "the war against terrorism". Pentagon operations in Bosnia have delivered their own "blowback".
In the 1980s Washington's secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. In both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 1993 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation - in flagrant violation of the UN security council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia.

The result was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the US, Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah. Wiebes reveals that the British intelligence services obtained documents early on in the Bosnian war proving that Iran was making direct deliveries.
Arms purchased by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia made their way by night from the Middle East. Initially aircraft from Iran Air were used, but as the volume increased they were joined by a mysterious fleet of black C-130 Hercules aircraft. The report stresses that the US was "very closely involved" in the airlift. Mojahedin fighters were also flown in, but they were reserved as shock troops for especially hazardous operations.

Light weapons are the familiar currency of secret services seeking to influence such conflicts. The volume of weapons flown into Croatia was enormous, partly because of a steep Croatian "transit tax". Croatian forces creamed off between 20% and 50% of the arms. The report stresses that this entire trade was clearly illicit. The Croats themselves also obtained massive quantities of illegal weapons from Germany, Belgium and Argentina - again in contravention of the UN arms embargo. The German secret services were fully aware of the trade.

Rather than the CIA, the Pentagon's own secret service was the hidden force behind these operations. The UN protection force, UNPROFOR, was dependent on its troop-contributing nations for intelligence, and above all on the sophisticated monitoring capabilities of the US to police the arms embargo. This gave the Pentagon the ability to manipulate the embargo at will: ensuring that American Awacs aircraft covered crucial areas and were able to turn a blind eye to the frequent nightime comings and goings at Tuzla.


Iranian and Afghan veterans' training camps had also been identified in Bosnia. Later, in the Dayton Accords of November 1995, the stipulation appeared that all foreign forces be withdrawn. This was a deliberate attempt to cleanse Bosnia of Iranian-run training camps. The CIA's main opponents in Bosnia were now the mojahedin fighters and their Iranian trainers - whom the Pentagon had been helping to supply months earlier.

Meanwhile, the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel were busy arming the Bosnian Serbs. Mossad was especially active and concluded a deal with the Bosnian Serbs at Pale involving a substantial supply of artillery shells and mortar bombs. In return they secured safe passage for the Jewish population out of the besieged town of Sarajevo.

UBL,the CIA, and MI6 (1984 – 1996)
Since 1984, UBL had been running the logistics of the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK – Services Office) mujahadin group he had taken over after the assassination of Abdallah Azzam, his former teacher. (Trento, 2005, 341-342)

In addition to global recruiting and logistics for CIA-sponsored operations against the Russians in Afghanistan and Bosnia, during this period bin Laden also contracted with British intelligence in a aborted plot to assassinate Libyan strongman Mohamar Khadaffi, according to David Shayler, an MI-6 whistleblower, and retired French intelligence officer, Jean-Charles Brisard.   According to The Guardian (UK), a UBL lieutenant in that operation, Anas al-Liby was later given asylum in Britain.  Bin Laden and al-Liby are accused by Interpol of a 1994 murder of a pair of German intelligence officers in Africa, but that warrant was quashed by MI6, and al-Liby was granted asylum by the UK.  See,

Before he defected to Britain, Al-Liby reportedly worked closely with Ali Mohamed in plotting the 1998 bombings of two US Embassies in East Africa. See,

Mohamed, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a former Egyptian military officer, had a long history as a CIA contract employee and had served with the US Army Green Beret as an Arabic language and culture instructor at Ft. Bragg.  In "1986, Khaled Abu el-Dahab, the right hand man of double agent Ali Mohamed, informally founds the branch (of the MAK) in Brooklyn, New York, and it soon becomes the most important US branch (of the group that will become known as al-Qaeda, the FBI will later refer to this as "The Brooklyn Cell"). [New York Times, 10/22/1998; Burr and Collins, 2006, pp. 269-270] While on active duty in the early 1990s, he was given leave to travel to Bosnia, where he fought as part of the Islamic militias.   Mohamed also gave weapons instruction at al-Qaeda camps in Sudan.  See,

The Brooklyn office recruits Arab immigrants and Arab-Americans to go fight in Afghanistan, even after the Soviets withdraw in early 1989. As many as 200 are sent there from the office. Before they go, the office arranges training in the use of rifles, assault weapons, and handguns, and then helps them with visas, plane tickets, and contacts. They are generally sent to the MAK/Al-Kifah office in Peshawar, Pakistan, and then connected to either the radical Afghan faction led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf or the equally radical one led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. [New York Times, 4/11/1993]

The CIA has some murky connection to Al-Kifah (MAK) that has yet to be fully explained. Newsweek will later say the Brooklyn office "doubled as a recruiting post for the CIA seeking to steer fresh troops to the mujaheddin" fighting in Afghanistan. At the same time, the Brooklyn office is where "veterans of (Afghan war arrived) in the United States—many with passports arranged by the CIA." [Newsweek, 10/1/2001]

The New Yorker will later comment that the Brooklyn office was a refuge for ex- and future mujaheddin, "But the highlight for the center’s regulars were the inspirational jihad lecture series, featuring CIA-sponsored speakers.... One week on Atlantic Avenue, it might be a CIA-trained Afghan rebel traveling on a CIA-issued visa; the next, it might be a clean-cut Arabic-speaking Green Beret, who would lecture about the importance of being part of the mujaheddin, or ‘warriors of the Lord.’ The more popular lectures were held upstairs in the roomier Al-Farouq Mosque; such was the case in 1990 when Sheikh [Omar] Abdul-Rahman, traveling on a CIA-supported visa, came to town." One frequent instructor is double agent Ali Mohamed, who is in the US Special Forces at the time (see 1987-1989). Bin Laden’s mentor Azzam frequently visits and lectures in the area. In 1988, he tells "a rapt crowd of several hundred in Jersey City, ‘Blood and martyrdom are the only way to create a Muslim society... However, humanity won’t allow us to achieve this objective, because all humanity is the enemy of every Muslim.’" [New Yorker, 3/17/1995]

Ayman Al-Zawahiri, future Al-Qaeda second-in-command, makes a recruiting trip to the office in 1989 (see Spring 1993). [New Yorker, 9/9/2002] The Brooklyn office also raises a considerable amount of money for MAK/Al-Kifah back in Pakistan. The Independent will later call the office "a place of pivotal importance to Operation Cyclone, the American effort to support the mujaheddin. The Al-Kifah [Refugee Center was] raising funds and, crucially, providing recruits for the struggle, with active American assistance." [Independent, 11/1/1998]

Abdul-Rahman, better known as the "Blind Sheikh," is closely linked to bin Laden. In 1990, he moves to New York on another CIA-supported visa (see July 1990) and soon dominates the Al-Kifah Refugee Center. Shalabi has a falling out with him over how to spend the money they raise and he is killed in mysterious circumstances in early 1991, completing Abdul-Rahman’s take over. Now, both the Brooklyn and Pakistan ends of the Al-Kifah/MAK network are firmly controlled by bin Laden and his close associates. In 1998, the US government will say that al-Qaeda’s "connection to the United States evolved from the Al-Kifah Refugee Center." Yet there is no sign that the CIA stops its relationship with the Brooklyn office before it closes down shortly after the 1993 WTC bombing. [New York Times, 10/22/1998]

Similarly, UBL’s Sudan operation was penetrated at that time by the CIA, which ran a second informant, Jamal al-Fadl:  See,

The name "al-Qaida" could have been introduced to U.S. intelligence by Jamal al-Fadl, who had been providing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with intelligence about bin Laden since 1996, before ultimately appearing as a witness in the February 2001 trial of those accused of the 1998 United States embassy bombings.


In 1995, the CIA relationship with UBL soured.  After a deal was struck with Russia at the Balkan peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, late in that year,  the State Department stepped up pressure on the Sudanese government to expel UBL and the al-Qaeda organization he was organizing from the relative comfort of an air-conditioned office building bin Laden had leased in downtown Khartoum.  In May, 2006, bin Laden and a group of lieutenants and bodyguards flew out of Khartoum to Afghanistan on a leased Ariana Afghanistan Airlines jet.
Just as Black’s men were quite aware of what bin Laden was up to, and vis-a-versa, this resulted in conflict between the two. About two years into that posting, Black relates, he had a run-in with several of UBL’s men.  As tensions grew between the CIA station and UBL, according to a somewhat sanitized retelling by Richard Sale, bin Laden planned to kill Black:

According to information first published by Steve Coll in "Ghost Wars," but confirmed for United Press International by U.S. intelligence officials, in 1994 bin Laden had been in Khartoum, the dusty capital of Sudan, and so had Black, working in a position that disguised his CIA affiliation.  According to Coll's account, bin Laden was living in a three-story compound.

Soon, the CIA in Khartoum knew bin Laden had terrorist training camps in northern Sudan, and that he was getting cooperation and weapons from the Sudanese intelligence service.  They also knew he was developing a multinational army, U.S. officials said.

But then U.S. officials discovered bin Laden planned to kill Black.  CIA watchers noticed that Black was trailed as he went to and from the American Embassy each day.  Near the embassy, CIA analysts saw bin Laden operatives were setting up a "kill zone" -- an area where firing coming from different quarters converges and traps a subject in many streams of bullets.

The CIA watchers were able to stealthily work in to be able to observe Black's supposed killers practice parts of their operation on a quiet city side street, according to Coll's account.

Only after CIA operatives leveled loaded shotguns in the faces of Arabs trailing Black, and Black officially complained to the Sudanese government, did all bin Laden activity against Black suddenly ceased, according to Coll and other sources.

That reveals only part of the story. Indeed, bin Laden’s training camps weren’t only located in Sudan, and it wasn’t only Sudanese intelligence who had been working with al-Qaeda.  The CIA had contracted UBL to set up and operate recruitment and training inside the United States and countries around the world through MAK, and later al-Qaeda.  Among those trained at UBL and MAK camps were six members of the 9/11 attack group, including Nawaf al-Hazmi. Along with his partner, Khalid al-Midhar, this pair went on to hijack Flight 77 that smashed into the Pentagon.

Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar were allowed to enter the U.S. on January 15, 2000 after the CIA observed the pair travel to, attend, and depart an al-Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to George Tenet’s testimony to the Joint Intelligence Committee in October 2002, the CIA and "a half-dozen allied services" monitored that meeting. Upon their arrival in Los Angeles, a CIA-CTC officer drafted cable to the FBI about the entrance.  That warning cable ordered withheld "by order of" the CTC Assistant Director, and apparently was never sent.

Had Cofer Black's CTC sent that cable, the FBI would have had no trouble obtaining FISA warrants.   The Bureau would have observed the pair as they met and communicated with the other principal 9/11 hijackers, al-Qaeda organizers and financiers inside the U.S., and several Saudi intelligence agents.  Had the FBI been officially notified through formal channels , the White House would have had no choice but to authorize the arrests of al-Midhar, al-Hazmi, Atta, Jarrah, and the rest.  Rolling up that network would have certainly saved 3,000 lives on 9/11.

As for the rationale offered within CTC for why that cable was withheld, part of the answer is provided by author Joe Trento, Unsafe at any Altitude: Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security Today by Susan and Joseph Trento (2006):

The biggest secret was that Saudi Arabian government agents whom the CIA had relied on for inside information on al Qaeda were, in fact, working for Osama bin Laden. Two of those agents were among the hijackers on American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles. Those two men were the ones the CIA and FBI had asked Steve Wragg to watch on the video at Dulles Airport. The CIA had known since 2000 that they were in the United States, but it hadn’t notified the FBI until June 2001. The FBI had been looking for them all summer in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the Navy’s USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, but had not been able to find them. (137)

. . .

Prior to 9/11 senior CIA officials had convinced themselves that GID, the Saudi intelligence service, had placed agents inside al Qaeda. Because these two men - Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi - were thought to be Saudi agents, the CIA did not tell the FBI about them when they came into the United States from a terrorist summit meeting in Malaysia. Had the CIA shared what it knew, the FBI might have had a chance to at preventing the 9/11 attacks.(192)

The authors don't explain why senior CIA officials would act based on such an assumption, particularly as Saudi intelligence was not trusted about al-Qaeda within the Agency.  Paul Thompson's 9/11 Timeline states:

  1. CIA Deems Saudi Intelligence ‘Hostile Service’ Regarding Al-Qaeda

The CIA’s bin Laden unit Alec Station sends a memo to CIA Director George Tenet warning him that the Saudi intelligence service should be considered a "hostile service" with regard to al-Qaeda. This means that, at the very least, they could not be trusted. In subsequent years leading up to 9/11, US intelligence will gather intelligence confirming this assessment and even suggesting direct ties between some in Saudi intelligence and al-Qaeda. For instance, according to a top Jordanian official, at some point before 9/11 the Saudis ask Jordan intelligence to conduct a review of the Saudi intelligence agency and then provide it with a set of recommendations for improvement. Jordanians are shocked to find Osama bin Laden screen savers on some of the office computers. Additionally, the CIA will note that in some instances after sharing communications intercepts of al-Qaeda operatives with the Saudis, the suspects would sometimes change communication methods, suggesting the possibility that they had been tipped off by Saudi intelligence. (Risen, 2006, pp. 183-184)

The Saudi GID angle seems to be a CIA cover story, a "limited hang out", given so that lower levels in the FBI and the rest of the intelligence community wouldn't interfere with the operation.  Al-Hazmi and al-Midhar may have have been double-agents, working for both UBL and Saudi Intel, but that doesn't mean CIA would have let them run free, unmonitored, inside the U.S.  CIA had long penetrated this cell, and Tenet and Black were intimately familiar with the "Brooklyn Cell", the personalities and the plans of the Planes Operation.  If Tenet and Black are to be believed, the only thing holding them back from rolling up the entire Planes Operation on July 10 was the lack of Presidential authorization to make arrests.

As Joe Trento explained to me in 2002, there are rules that are followed. In a long-established, compartmentalized operation, there is "no roll-up until the President issues the order."

That explains why nobody located al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi in the late summer of 2001, and why the FBI didn't arrest the pair, even though the record shows that these two men used their real names to reserve and purchase their own airline tickets.

Consider this timeline:

July 10th: Tenet and Black have their "red alert" meeting with Rice.

Aug. 17 or 24:  Tenet suddenly flies to Crawford, TX, later will withhold this fact during public testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

August 23: the CIA sends "cables to the State Department, the FBI, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, requesting that 'four bin Laden related individuals' including Almidhar and Alhazmi, be placed on the watchlist." (Washington Post, A8, September 21, 2002)

August. 24: Bush meets with his core national security team -- Rice, Rumsfeld, Gens. Myers and Pace.

Aug. 25: Khalid al-Midhar and Majed Moqed purchased tickets for American Airlines Flight 77, from Virginia to Los Angeles, scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001.

August 27th: al-Hazmi purchases two tickets.


Only in the context of the long-standing, but often violent, relationship between the CIA and UBL, and between various factions in Washington and Saudi Arabia, can the events that led up to 9/11 be understood.

Cofer Black and George Tenet understood the potential for mass casualties when on July 10, 2001 they rushed to the State Department to try to convince Condi Rice that al-Qaeda attack cells known to be inside the U.S. had to be rolled up. This message was repeated with urgency in late August when Tenet flew to Crawford, Texas to personally brief President George W. Bush.
PART 6 of a series:

CIA Used Banned Cold War "Brainwashing" Techniques on Detainees

Who Got Water Boarded and Why: What Tortured CIA Detainees Had In Common.
CIA Detainee Torture, Memory Loss, and the Bush Administration's Falsification of History

Torture Tapes Weren't The Only Thing Erased by The White House

TORTURE VIDEO: What The CIA Doesn't Want You to Know

FTN 1 cf., emptywheel mentions that some sources say videotaped torture may not have commenced until August,    A Justice Dept. opinion letter dated 08/01/2002 endorsed waterboarding as legal.  The significance of that DOJ memo is it might give those involved some legal cover.

Originally posted to leveymg on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 08:17 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Impressive Research (14+ / 0-)

      We have to come here to find it and try to make sense of it.

      The MSM lack the attention span to connect this many dots.

      •  Let me know what needs to be clarified. (16+ / 0-)

        The basic narrative is pretty simple, actually.  The CIA helped establish the MAK's presence in the US as part of the Afghan War, bin Laden (UBL) took over the MAK.  CIA continues to use UBLs services in Bosnia.  Cofer Black is in charge of dealing with UBL in Sudan (his case officer, perhaps).  The US cuts a deal with the Russians, the US kicks UBL out of his cushy base of operations in Sudan.

        UBL got really pissed at CIA, declares war on the US, Cofer Black is put in charge of dealing with UBL at CTC, but the US continues doing business in Chechnya with much of the rest of UBLs operation. Lots of UBL people continue moving in and out of the US - CIA gets wind of 9/11 plans, monitor it, but Bush-Cheney get elected.

        This all blows back after Dim Son refuses to roll up UBL, because Dim Son and Darth have their own brand spanking new plans for Afghanistan and South Asia they intend to roll out with Gen. Ahmed after the Deputies meeting scheduled for 9/11.  The US gets sucker punched.

        Tenet, Black, and Bush know the critical details before 9/11.  Bush digs his heels in.  We know enough to say, They Knew.  The torture of certain high value detainees was an attempt to alter or erase evidence.

        •  Cogent summary. One query on timing: (5+ / 0-)

          I think that one could also conclude that UBL was hostile to the U.S. at a fundamental level after seeing what 2,700 pound shells launched by U.S. battleships had done to civilian neighborhoods in Beirut in 1984 during the Lebanese civil war. UBL was surely working all possible angles on behalf of the MAK and jihad, but throughout, and especially after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, any connections between UBL's organization and the CIA were likely at most in the nature of arm's-length and nose-held--by both sides.

          Saudi Arabia's alarm at UBL's activities there resulted in his expulsion from the kingdom in 1991, and that expulsion may well have been a catalyst for UBL's total estrangement from pursuing a loveless marriage of convenience with U.S. anti-Russian policy in Chechnya. As early as 1991/1992 (Yemen and Somalia) UBL began attacking U.S. interests.

          So I think that the real rupture occurred well before 1994/1995 in the Sudan. It seems to me very unlikely that Cofer Black could have been UBL's "case officer" during that period in Sudan. After 1991 the CIA's interest in UBL and his network was likely almost exclusively one of FI collection rather than collaborative covert action, and UBL himself certainly would not have served as a CIA informant.

          Your timeline and source citations demonstrate that the CIA actually had UBL's network rather well penetrated and covered. But it was the Dim Son who failed to act on the available information. Richard Clarke alludes to this reality in his Against all Enemies (he is particularly harsh on Condi Rice for her inattention and ignorance regarding al Qaeda), but it would be illuminating to know Clarke's policy-level perceptions of the precise intelligence that filtered upwards before 9/11.

        •  If Bush/Cheney knew the LIHOP option is in play (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler, kraant

          Outstanding diary. This diary shows that the CIA knew damn well that Bin Laden was ready to attack us.

          What we don't know is the decision making process in the executive branch that led to 9-11.

          "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 04:19:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  can't forget the FRONTLINE Story about... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler, kraant

          the FBI person with oversight in this area John O'Neill who was killed on 9/11 among the rest.

          I was most troubled by the fact that he knew something was about to happen but was stymied in pursuing it by the US Ambassador in Yemen as well as top FBI brass. This seems very strange to me, on its face.

          Don't have time or skills to do more research on this - but I wonder at the connections between the CIA activities and the FBI's lack of responsiveness - it has always seemed to me to be more than just bureaucratic bungling, as it has been portrayed. It seemed that O'Neill's experience in that bureaucracy should have made it possible for him to work the system to get what he needed, absent intentional roadblocks erected in his way.

          Do you have any information to help clear up this conundrum?

          another point of outrage - the Commission's lack of transparency wrt ben Veniste's proposal is disgusting - certainly reinforces the perception that the government is completely untrustworthy.

          thank you so much for this diary - I have copied it to read it again...

          •  Good question (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lukery, kraant

            It seemed that O'Neill's experience in that bureaucracy should have made it possible for him to work the system to get what he needed, absent intentional roadblocks erected in his way.

            Do you have any information to help clear up this conundrum?

            I'd bet that Sibel Edmond does.

            Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

            by Caneel on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 04:58:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Tipped, Recced... (11+ / 0-)

      And bookmarked for careful reading later tonight....

  •  Rec'd and tipped....Great job! (9+ / 0-)

    All I want for Christmas is...IMPEACHMENT!

    by Temmoku on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 08:29:42 AM PST

  •  Talking of the "Black Sites"... (17+ / 0-)

    ... James Risen mentioned in his book...

    The CIA assigned a group of agency officials to try to find alternative prison sites in countries scattered around the world. They were studying, said one CIA source, "how to make people disappear."

    I spotted this in an LA Times article recently:

    In court papers filed last week, the Justice Department argued that the videos weren't covered by the order because at the time Zubaydah and al-Nashiri were being held in secret CIA prisons overseas. The men were later transferred to the Guantanamo Bay prison.

    It stuck me that that entire argument is basically something along the lines of, the court order doesn't count because we disappeared them nyah nyah.

    It's a bit blatant. It leaves me wondering if they never expected to be found out in the first place.

    •  Bush's Nacht und Nebel decree. (4+ / 0-)

      Nacht und Nebel [Night and Fog]:

      Nacht und Nebel (German for "Night and Fog") was a directive (German: Erlass) of Adolf Hitler on December 7, 1941 signed and implemented by Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in kidnapping and disappearance of many political activists throughout Nazi Germany's occupied territories.

      I didn't realize until I read this Wikipedia entry that the decree was signed on Pearl Harbor Day.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:10:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  German-language Wikipedia has more detail (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin, kraant

        on the Nacht-und-Nebel-Erlass:

        Der später so genannte Nacht-und-Nebel-Erlass war ein „Führererlass" des Deutschen Reiches, verordnet am 7. Dezember 1941 als geheime Richtlinien für die Verfolgung von Straftaten gegen das Reich oder die Besatzungsmacht in den besetzten Gebieten. Danach wurden rund 7.000 des Widerstands verdächtige Personen aus Frankreich, Belgien, den Niederlanden und Norwegen nach Deutschland verschleppt und dort heimlich abgeurteilt oder bei erwiesener Unschuld in Haft behalten, ohne dass die Angehörigen irgendwelche Auskünfte erhielten. Ihr spurloses Verschwinden diente der Abschreckung. Der Erlass wurde in Kraft gesetzt vom Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) unter Wilhelm Keitel.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:13:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  CNN Is Colluding with the CIA (17+ / 0-)

    by showing videos allegedly obtained today depicting dank, filthy rooms.

    According to CNN, they are "torture rooms" that the CIA has ... just uncovered.

    Yeah.  Whatever.

    I suppose this is supposed to make us go, "Oh, well waterboarding is NOTHING compared to these savages."

    It ain't gonna fly with me.

    •  The timing is certainly suspect, that's for sure. (8+ / 0-)

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 08:45:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  While I was watching the ex-CIA agent (12+ / 0-)

      that came out about waterboarding; all I could think was:

      Bullshit. This is propaganda. He's saying we've waterboarded, but it worked and they're non-humans anyway, so it doesn't really matter...

      It's all such transparent bullshit. Like some poorly scripted action-adventure-suspense movie.

      You already know what's coming next.  

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 08:52:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps MG. However... (7+ / 0-)

        Here in DC there has been a definite "Dog who gets handed the phone" reaction to the WaterBoarding Admission events.

        It does not read as propoganda.  

        It does come across that the general belief that drowning someone for 45 seconds was not considered a problem.

        However, Hayden having to launch off with "remember to all employees to protect all classified information" the next day, and the very discordant notes struck by FBI, WH and other sources indicate that this really is precisely what it appears to be:

        One Torturer, a Mid Level Contract Employee at the CIA, coming clean about his take on what happenned.  

        The question is:  Who Else knew about the tapes.
        Who else saw the tapes, or part of them.
        And WHY was it considered important to destroy them.

        I have a very very very stong hunch that a "highlight reel" of these confessions was shown in the WH.   These guys are into winning, chest thumping and trophy taking...I find it unlikely Mr. Bush did not demand to see some of it himself.

        That would be a question for Mr. Tennet, or perhaps Mr. Goss...and interestingly...I have never bought into the reason why Mr. Tennet left when he did.

        When you line up this issue with his departure, I think you may have one of the contributing factors.

      •  I Think Most People Have Missed (7+ / 0-)

        Kiriakou's core message.

        Subtract his vauge "helped saved lives" line, which he frankly never substantiated and never could since it's obvious crap ...

        ...the moral of his story was "but at the end of the day it's torture and we shouldn't be doing it."

        I can't understand why everyone has completely left that out of the recall of his statements.  He said it!

        Here's something else he said:  When pressed for whether waterboarding helped in the killing of Al Zarqawi Kiriakou said, "No."

        So if oyu use process of ellimination, the bottom line is this.  Does waterboarding help?  Yes.  How has it helped?  It hasn't.

        That was Kiriakou's message.


        •  Aaaaw geez... (6+ / 0-)

          Looks like there's rumblings about retaliating against Kirakou...

          From TPMmuckraker:

          Jonathan Landay of McClatchy reports that the CIA has referred Kiriakou's case to the Justice Department. No, the department isn't investigating whether Kiriakou's role in Abu Zubaydah's interrogation was potentially illegal. That would be an admission that the torture apparatus established after 9/11 is illegal, and you know that Michael Mukasey and Mark Filip can't make up their minds about that. Rather, the FBI wants to know if Kiriakou criminally disclosed classified information by speaking to ABC News about the interrogation.

          What's more, Kiriakou's former employer, the CIA -- which surely wasn't happy about seeing Kiriakou confirm on TV that his team waterboarded Abu Zubaydah and then call waterboarding torture -- won't confirm that it dimed him out.

             A CIA spokesman declined to comment when asked if the agency had sought a criminal probe of Kiriakou. But the spokesman, George Little, added, "Separate and apart from any specific instance, when the agency has reason to believe there has been a possible violation of the law, such as the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, it has an obligation to refer the matter to the Department of Justice."

          Quoth Kiriakou's attorney, Mark Zaid -- your go-to lawyer if you're a CIA official in legal jeopardy: "it wouldn't surprise me and I wouldn't find it unusual" if the CIA turned around and got Justice to open a criminal investigation into Kiriakou for the disclosure. None dare call it retaliation.

          The McClatchy report itself:

          Testifier on CIA tactics now in criminal probe
          A CIA 'criminal referral' has led to a probe into whether one of its former officers went too far in his testimony on the agency's interrogation techniques.
          Posted on Fri, Dec. 21, 2007

          WASHINGTON --
          The Department of Justice is investigating whether a former intelligence officer illegally disclosed classified information in interviews he gave on how the CIA interrogated a suspected senior al Qaeda member.

          In interviews with ABC News and The Washington Post earlier this month, former CIA officer John Kiriakou gave detailed descriptions of how a detainee known as Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded. The procedure produces the sensation of drowning and is widely considered a form of torture, which is illegal under U.S. and international laws.

          The interviews were the first public confirmation that Zubaydah, a Palestinian who allegedly helped finance the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been subjected to the technique while in secret CIA custody. The CIA surrendered Zubaydah to the U.S. military in September 2006, and he's now being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

          The department opened the criminal probe of Kiriakou after receiving a ''criminal referral'' from the CIA, according to officials familiar with the process. The officials requested anonymity because criminal referrals aren't made public.


      •  My gut reaction was 'this is Bush PR/Spin' (5+ / 0-)

        to deflect our (and Corp Media's) attention from Bush's Iran/NIE problem ~ remember that?  That was really heating up when - ta daa - this John K just shows up to tell his tale.  Hmm, ex-CIA dude just pops up for Corp Media Tour to share his story about waterboading.  What a Bush-helpful coincidence!!  And wow, he wasn't immediately arrested or Plamed by the reich-wing smear machine.  Funny, that.

        Not only did the Iran/NIE story disappear immediately, the first 2-3 days of this story was hitting the CIA hard for their "bad move".  Also Bush/White House friendly.  Hmm...funny that, too.

        It's only been as bloggers have pieced the timelines together and - SHOCK - Dems in Congress have pushed beyond the surface headline of the CIA tape story has this come back to hurt BushCo: Gonzo, Addington, Meiers and other dude were in the mix and Gonzo likely purjured himself AGAIN in his confirm hearing in early 2005.

        That's how it feels to me.  Your mileage (and tin foil hat size) may vary.  ;o)

        Cheney is a traitor!!

        by JVolvo on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 12:06:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is it true that Black drafted for Bush (5+ / 0-)

    the still-classified Memorandum of Notification to the CIA that Bush signed on Sept. 17, 2001, so that there would be legal cover for the CIA to torture and murder people?

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 09:03:13 AM PST

    •  Don't know. Could you give us a link on that? (5+ / 0-)


      •  September 17 NSC meeting? (5+ / 0-)

        The closest thing I can find to that is that there was a NSC meeting on September 17.

        At the September 17 NSC meeting, there was some further discussion of "phase two" of the war on terrorism.71 President Bush ordered the Defense Department to be ready to deal with Iraq if Baghdad acted against U.S. interests, with plans to include possibly occupying Iraqi oil fields.72

        Within the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz continued to press the case for dealing with Iraq. Writing to Rumsfeld on September 17 in a memo headlined "Preventing More Events," he argued that if there was even a 10 percent chance that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attack, maximum priority should be placed on eliminating that threat. Wolfowitz contended that the odds were "far more" than 1 in 10, citing Saddam's praise for the attack, his long record of involvement in terrorism, and theories that Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi agent and Iraq was behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.73 The next day, Wolfowitz renewed the argument, writing to Rumsfeld about the interest of Yousef's co-conspirator in the 1995 Manila air plot in crashing an explosives-laden plane into CIA headquarters, and about information from a foreign government regarding Iraqis' involvement in the attempted hijacking of a Gulf Air flight. Given this background, he wondered why so little thought had been devoted to the danger of suicide pilots, seeing a "failure of imagination" and a mind-set that dismissed possibilities.74

        And also that Wolfowitz wrote a memo that day pressing for an attack against Iraq...

        I wonder who was at that NSC meeting...

        •  The Principals Meeting was 9/4, the day Ahmad (5+ / 0-)

          arrived and al-Turki departed Washington (and the GID).  9/4 has more significance than most know -last chances forfeited.

          A Deputies Meeting was scheduled for a week later, at which the Administration's new CT strategy was to be launched. "no more swatting flies", and all that.

          •  Interesting... Thanks... (6+ / 0-)

            I've just found a search on cooperative research that shows some interesting stuff... Richard Ben-Veniste the 9/11 commissioner.


            It mentions the suppression of Tenet's July 10 2001 report from the Commissions findings. That that report was a reaction to a briefing from Cofer Black, that according to Woodward:

            Woodward’s book will describe why Black, who also privately testified before the 9/11 Commission, felt the commission did not mention the July meeting in their final report: "Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork about the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about. It was what happened in investigations. There were questions they wanted to ask, and questions they didn’t want to ask." [Woodward, 2006, pp. 78]

            Here's an interesting thing I didn't know about:

            September 25, 2006: 9/11 Commissioner Reveals Secret Deal to Keep Bush and Clinton Testimony Secret until 2009

            The 9/11 Commission interviewed presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in 2004 (see April 29, 2004) but the details of what was revealed in these interviews were not included in the commission’s final report (with one exception, see August 6, 2001). On this day, former 9/11 Commission Richard Ben-Veniste says, "I had hoped that we had—we would have made both the Clinton interview and the Bush interview a part of our report, but that was not to be. I was outvoted on that question.... I didn’t have the votes.... I think the question was that there was a degree of confidentiality associated with that and that we would take from that the output that is reflected in the report, but go no further. And that until some five years’ time after our work, we would keep that confidential. I thought we would be better to make all of the information that we had available to the public and make our report as transparent as possible so that the American public could have that." [CNN, 9/25/2006]

            Entity Tags: George W. Bush, 9/11 Commission, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Richard Ben-Veniste

            Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

            And aha! I just found a reference for the Memorandum of Notification on September 17:


            (It's a PDF)

                                       B. HISTORY OF RENDITION SINCE SEPTEMBER 11
               After September 11, the rendition program expanded, and began operating under fewer legal
            restrictions. Anonymous "current and former government officials" told the New York Times that
            several days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush
            signed a classified order that allowed the CIA to carry out renditions without White House,
            Department of State, or Department of Justice approval of individual prisoners’ transfers.215 The
            CIA was also authorized to transfer prisoners to countries where they did not face any criminal
            charges, "solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation."216 United Press International
            reported that the document was called a "memorandum of notification," and was signed on September
            17, 2001.217


            217 Shaun Waterman, Ex-CIA Lawyer Calls for Law on Rendition, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, Mar. 8, 2005.

            Here's a copy of the Waterman article:


            On Sept. 17, 2001, less than a week after the suicide hijackings that resulted in the deaths of some 3,000 people, President Bush signed a highly classified legal document known as a "memorandum of notification."

            The document gave the CIA broad authorities to use against those it suspected of being among the United States' terrorist enemies. For the first time, the agency was authorized to detain and interrogate people.

            The agency was also granted greatly extended powers to render people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

            Hrrrrm... I didn't know that...

      •  I don't have a link. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think I read it stated or suggested some place, and I was wondering if anybody could confirm or refute it.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:01:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So far I can't find anything to confirm... (4+ / 0-)

          ... or deny it. That there was a "memorandum of notification" on September the 17th appears to be fact.

          From a report from Amnesty International:

          President Bush’s memorandum of 7 February 2002 stating that the USA would treat detainees in the "war on terror" humanely, even "those who are not legally entitled to it", included the Director of the CIA as one of its recipients. It stated that "as a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely".(456) This assurance did not include the CIA and other agencies and it omitted any reference to persons "rendered" to states that use torture in interrogation (see Point 12.1). The CIA is an independent agency responsible to the President through its Director and accountable to the country through Congress. The President has the authority to direct the CIA to conduct covert operations.

          In his account of the US administration’s response to the atrocities of 11 September 2001, Bob Woodward of the Washington Postdescribes a meeting of top US officials in Camp David on the weekend of 15 and 16 September 2001.(457) At the meeting, the then Director of the CIA, George Tenet, reportedly requested that "exceptional authorities" be granted to his agency: "This was a request for a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations... The CIA needed new, robust authority to operate without restraint".(458) Woodward continues:

          "Tenet had brought a draft of a presidential intelligence order, called a finding, that would give the CIA power to use the full range of covert instruments, including deadly force...(459) The CIA chief came to a page headed ‘Heavily Subsidize Arab Liaison Services’. He explained that with the additional hundreds of millions of dollars for new covert action, the CIA would ‘buy’ key intelligence services, providing training, new equipment, money for their agent networks, whatever they might need. Several intelligence services were listed: Egypt, Jordan, Algeria. Acting as surrogates for the United States, these services could triple or quadruple the CIA’s resources, an extended mercenary force of intelligence operatives.

          "Like much of the world of covert activity, such arrangements carried risks. It would put the United States in league with questionable intelligence services, some of them with dreadful human rights records. Some had reputations for ruthlessness and using torture to obtain confessions... Bush said he understood the risks."(460)

          On the afternoon of 17 September 2001, according to Woodward’s account, President Bush signed the Memorandum of Notification authorizing all the measures that the CIA Director had proposed two days earlier at the administration’s Camp David meeting of the war cabinet.(461) It has since been reported that President Bush authorized the CIA to set up secret detention facilities outside the USA and to use harsh interrogation techniques.(462) The US government then reportedly negotiated "status of forces agreements" with foreign governments to give immunity to US agents and private contractors in the secret facilities.(463) Another report quotes a former US intelligence official as saying that "there was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear", with the reported result being secret agreements allowing the CIA to use facilities outside the USA unhindered by external scrutiny.(464)

          A year after the Camp David meeting, one of its attendees, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, Cofer Black, conjured the spectre of torture and ill-treatment when the only detail he would give of the "very highly classified area" of "operational flexibility" was that "there was before 9/11 and after 9/11" and that "after 9/11 the gloves come off."(465) Three months after that statement, evidence emerged that the CIA was employing interrogation methods – so-called "stress and duress" techniques – which violated the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment, in secret detention facilities, and transferring detainees to the custody of countries with poor human rights records (see Point 12.1). A Washington Postreport at this time alleged that the CIA was using hooding, sleep deprivation and forcing detainees to stand or kneel for hours in a secret facility in Bagram air base to which the ICRC had not had access. (466) The report quoted an official who had supervised the capture and transfer of detainees: "If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job. I don’t think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA."


          (456) Presidential memorandum, 7 February 2002. supra, note 11.

          (457) Present were President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Cofer Black, chief of the CIA Director’s Counterterrorist Center. 9/11 Commission Report, Chapter 10, supra, note 18.

          (458) Bob Woodward, Bush at War, page 76. "Another key component, [Director George Tenet] said, was to use ‘exceptional authorities to detain al Qaeda operatives worldwide’. That meant the CIA could use foreign intelligence services or other paid assets. Tenet and his senior deputies would be authorized to approve ‘snatch’ operations abroad, truly exceptional power".

          (459) Woodward continues here: "For more than two decades, the CIA had simply modified previous presidential findings to obtain its formal authority for counterterrorism. His new proposal, technically called a Memorandum of Notification, was presented as a modification to the worldwide counterterrorism intelligence finding signed by President Reagan in 1986. As if symbolically erasing the recent past, it superseded five such memoranda signed by President Clinton."

          (460) Bob Woodward, Bush at War, page 76-77.

          (461) Ibid. Page 101. Chapter 10 of the 9/11 Commission Report notes that at the Camp David meeting of the "war council", "Bush and his advisers discussed new legal authorities for covert action in Afghanistan, including the administration’s first Memorandum of Notification on Bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, President Bush authorized broad new authorities for the CIA." The 9/11 Commission Report cites a National Security Council memorandum, dated 16 September, from "Rice to Cheney, Powell, O’Neill (Paul, Secretary of the Treasury), Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales (Alberto, White House Counsel), Card (Andrew, White House Chief of Staff), Tenet, and Shelton (Hugh, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)".

          (462) The roots of torture. Newsweek, 24 May 2004. The White House Counsel has said that "the only formal, written directive from the President regarding the treatment of detainees" was his 7 February 2002 memorandum, supra, note 11. Press briefing by White House Counsel, 22 June 2004, supra, note 16.

          (463) Ibid. A UN expert has raised concern about the apparent absence of any status of forces agreement (SOFA) between the USA and Afghanistan, "which raises another serious legal concern". In other words, what is the status of the US forces in Afghanistan? Afghanistan: UN expert denounces abuses in illegal prisons. UN News Service, 22 August 2004.

          (464) Harsh CIA methods cited in top Qaeda interrogations. New York Times, 13 May 2004.

          (465) Hearing before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, 26 September 2002.

          (466) US decries abuse but defends interrogations. Washington Post, 26 December 2002.

          Given that Cofer appears to have been Tenets goto guy on the issue and given that Tenet appears to have proposed the memorandum (Remember a briefing from Cofer was what made Tenet try and get Rice and Bush's attention on Bin Laden being determined to strike in the US on July 10th):

          On the afternoon of 17 September 2001, according to Woodward’s account, President Bush signed the Memorandum of Notification authorizing all the measures that the CIA Director had proposed two days earlier at the administration’s Camp David meeting of the war cabinet.(461)

          And given Cofer's attitude:

          A year after the Camp David meeting, one of its attendees, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, Cofer Black, conjured the spectre of torture and ill-treatment when the only detail he would give of the "very highly classified area" of "operational flexibility" was that "there was before 9/11 and after 9/11" and that "after 9/11 the gloves come off."(465)

          I'd say it's a reasonable supposition that Cofer was the one who drafted the memorandum, but so far I just can't find anything to confirm it.

        •  A little more... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lysias, Caneel

          On the afternoon of 17 September 2001, according to Woodward’s account, President Bush signed the Memorandum of Notification authorizing all the measures that the CIA Director had proposed two days earlier at the administration’s Camp David meeting of the war cabinet.(461) It has since been reported that President Bush authorized the CIA to set up secret detention facilities outside the USA and to use harsh interrogation techniques.(462) The US government then reportedly negotiated "status of forces agreements" with foreign governments to give immunity to US agents and private contractors in the secret facilities.(463) Another report quotes a former US intelligence official as saying that "there was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear", with the reported result being secret agreements allowing the CIA to use facilities outside the USA unhindered by external scrutiny.(464)

          That would be September the 15th:

          September 15, 2001: CIA Director Presents Bush and his Cabinet with Extensive Plan for Combating Terrorism Worldwide

          President Bush meets with his advisers at Camp David for a day of intensive discussions about how to respond to the 9/11 attacks. CIA Director George Tenet has arrived there "with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism." With him is his deputy, John McLaughlin, and counterterrorism chief Cofer Black. Also in the conference room with them, among others, are Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell. For his 30-minute presentation, Tenet gives out a briefing packet titled "Going to War." His presentation covers several key components for the fight against terrorism:


          A key proposal is a recommendation that the president give the CIA "exceptional authorities" to destroy al-Qaeda. Tenet wants a broad intelligence order allowing the agency to conduct covert operations without requiring formal approval for each specific operation, thus authorizing it to operate without restraint. Tenet and his senior deputies would be permitted to approve "snatch" operations abroad. Journalist Bob Woodward calls this "truly exceptional power."
          bullet Tenet has with him a draft of a presidential intelligence order—a "finding"—that would give the CIA power "to use the full range of covert instruments, including deadly force."


          He has with him a top-secret document called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix." This details covert operations in 80 countries that he is recommending or are already underway. "Actions ranged from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks." As Woodward describes, this proposal represents "a striking departure for US policy. It would give the CIA the broadest and most lethal authority in its history."
          The president reportedly is much pleased with Tenet’s proposals, "virtually shouting ‘Great job!’" [Woodward, 2002, pp. 74-78; Washington Post, 1/31/2002; Kessler, 2003, pp. 234] He will grant all Tenet’s requests by the following Monday (see September 17, 2001). Tenet had presented a cruder version of the CIA plan at the White House two days earlier (see September 13, 2001).

          Which gives us on September 13:

          ... Black gives a presentation describing the effectiveness of covert action. He says they will need to go after the Taliban as well as al-Qaeda, as the two are joined at the hip. He wants the mission to begin as soon as possible, and adds, "When we’re through with them, they will have flies walking across their eyeballs." Black claims that once they are on the ground, victory could be achieved in weeks. According to Bob Woodward, "No one else in the room, including Tenet, believed that was possible." Black also warns the president, "Americans are going to die.... How many, I don’t know. Could be a lot." Bush responds, "That’s war. That’s what we’re here to win." This is the second presentation laying out an increasingly detailed set of CIA proposals for expanding its fight against terrorism. (George Tenet had given the first when he met with the president the day before (see September 12, 2001).) Tenet will give a more detailed presentation of the CIA’s covert action plan two days later, at Camp David (see September 15, 2001). [Woodward, 2002, pp. 50-53; Washington Post, 1/29/2002; Kessler, 2003, pp. 233-234]

          It appears that even if Cofer didn't specifically draft the memorandum he was intimately involved in its creation.

          Does that help?

  •  This sounds so impossible but you cite reputable (6+ / 0-)


    There is so much about the CIA that is mind-numbing.

    Here's why we are mostly in the dark:

    "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." --Mark Twain

    by LNK on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 09:29:03 AM PST

  •  The names (6+ / 0-)

    The names alone can creep me out.  Cofer Black.  Dusty Foggo.  Are these their real names?  If so, parents, maybe there's some truth to the theory that the names you give your children help shape their personalities.

    Anyway, thanks for the diary, leveymg.  Makes my stomach churn, but thanks :)

    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace" --Thomas Paine

    by joanneleon on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 09:35:46 AM PST

  •  Question about MATRIX (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Any thoughts on whether or not MATRIX was really able to supply photos of the hijackers?

    Vanity Fair Article

    •  I don't see why not... (4+ / 0-)

      ... some of the databases that were amalgamated into the one giant database to be mined would probably have photo-ids...

      Hrrrm... The biggest problems would be false positives, and what'dya know... On Page 6 of that article:

      His timing was impeccable. In the spring of 2000, soon after his departure, DBT went into high gear on a $4 million contract with the state of Florida that would mire it in controversy for years to come. Part of the assignment was to scan every relevant database to come up with the names of ex-felons who had registered to vote, then pass the list on to Florida's 67 counties so that the felons could be struck from the rolls, in accordance with Florida law. In the legal finger-pointing that followed, DBT would claim that Florida's Division of Elections, under Secretary of State Katherine Harris, encouraged it to cast as wide a net as possible. Of the more than 50,000 names it came up with as a result, some 20,000 would be registered voters who simply had the misfortune of sharing a name, part of a name, or an inverted name with an actual ex-felon. A disproportionate number of blacks would be barred from the polls in the presidential election, and civil-rights groups would accuse Governor Jeb Bush's administration of using the purge to disenfranchise blacks, who would have voted, in all likelihood, for Al Gore over George W. Bush.

      Asher has his own take on that. "I know exactly what happened 'cause I talked to some programmers—they're friends of mine," he says. "They wrote the program wrong. They forgot to only link people with felonies. They had misdemeanors too, so if some poor guy 20 years ago shoplifted or whatever, drove away from a gas station without paying for the gas or whatever, they tagged him as an illegal voter." Voters who never even had a misdemeanor were caught up in the purge, too, says Asher, because DBT wrote bad code, with algorithms that let matches be too loose. "They fucking blew it! This comes from people who do not know how to architect data matching. There is enough data on the criminal record between a Social Security number, a date of birth, and a name to never make a mistake. It's idiotic." ("DBT executed on the parameters established by Florida officials," says a company spokesman. "Mr. Asher has a long history of actions deriving out of his bitterness with DBT.")

      There's the purging of the voter rolls in Florida under Kathrine Harris 2000.

      •  It is an interesting article (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, fhcec, kraant

        I'm wondering if the photos of the hijackers came from:

        1. passport photos that were somehow not burned (isn't that the official version)?
        1. MATRIX because the CIA/FBI was clueless
        1. CIA/FBI really did have the photos but did not want to admit to having this knowledge so MATRIX was a convenient cover story.
        •  Hrrrrm.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Given that according the the BBC back then it was found that several of the hijackers were still alive...

          Hijack 'suspects' alive and well
          Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK

          Y'know... I'd never thought of it this way before, but that would fit in very well with false positives from data-mining... This is just my impression, but from memory all the photos in question were rather pixelated ie they had a very low resolution right? That also fits in with the images coming from a database.

          Are there any examples of the photos being available at higher resolutions which would make sense if they were scanned from paper...

          I can't give you anything definitive, but one point would be that privately owned databases don't necessarily have the privacy restrictions and controls that publicly owned ones should. It's why I'd suspect that a lot of that sort of work has been outsourced to private third party groups.

  •  Where is J Cofer now? (7+ / 0-)

    Adviser to the Double Down Gitmo Willard. Gettin' the Mitt-ens off?

  •  Add another war criminal to the list (5+ / 0-)

    So many war criminals and not enough judges.

    Chaos. It's not just a theory.

    by PBnJ on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:00:15 AM PST

  •  What an excellent expose (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, truong son traveler, fhcec, kraant

    They were playing with fire and got burned by the blowback... we all got burned. Now they will use anything, including torture, to cover their tracks.

    I do think that it is naive to believe Cofer Black still does not work for the CIA. "Retirement" of such officers is a spurious business. Blackwater, for which Black is a principal, appears to me to be primarily a CIA asset, and a dangerous one, as the CIA appears to be assembling a paramilitary force with both international and domestic projections.

    In the larger scale, this use of reactionary nationalist forces to subdue an adversary has often blown up in the face of imperialists. The U.S.-backed war against the Soviets in Afghanistan was a reactionary war through and through. Movies like "Charlie Wilson's War" are pieces of propaganda. The same Islamic fundamentalism, backed up by a terror that has raged against women, out-of-favor religious sects, and Enlightenment principles, opposed the secularist Soviet-backed governments. The U.S. was happy then to ally with mullahs and warlords who saw nothing wrong with throwing acid in the face of Muslim women who tried to teach little girls how to read.

    Well, now the chickens have come home to roost, America. This war is bankrupting the country, allowing the crumbling of U.S. infrastructure and national destruction from within. It is making the U.S. into a pariah state. And it is eating like a political acid into the body politic and creating a moral, intellectual, and political emptiness so profound it's unknown if this country can pull back from total disaster even now.

    The criminals rule. The rich lord it over the poor. The educated classes stir and fulminate, and are unwilling to sacrifice anything (unless it's tax deductible). A harsh harsh future awaits us... unless... unless we can bring these criminals to heel now.

    But without an incredibly strong public outcry... forget it.

    Let's start with Daily Kos. If this can't make it here, then what hope is it for breaking through on this knowledge to the rest of the country.

    Great work leveymg. A true true patriot, along with those others who would bring this country back into the comity of nations.

  •  Great diary (as usual), leveymg (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, kraant

    and great series.  I can't understand why it's not on the recommended list.

    I need to read some of the books you cite.  Maybe I'll finally get to them in the new year.

    Friendly side note: I think you've got a typo here - 2006 should be 1996?

    In May, 2006, bin Laden and a group of lieutenants and bodyguards flew out of Khartoum to Afghanistan on a leased Ariana Afghanistan Airlines jet.

    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace" --Thomas Paine

    by joanneleon on Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 02:23:37 PM PST

  •  Great stuff. Bookmarked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, kraant

    Thanks for this.  Recommended.  

  •  incredible work... (0+ / 0-)

    as always... a fine overview. you know my thoughts on the mass torture and while I don't entirely agree that the operation is geared toward making those who were doubles forget or go insane, i find what you have put together incredibly valuable. :)

    If man was devolving into a psychotic pit of rotted plasma, Rove would be the Alpha of such grime - By Some Smart Ass

    by Larisa on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 01:42:28 AM PST

  •  didn't see your work until now--great stuff (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not spending much time on this blog--so I didn't catch your stuff. As you may suspect it goes very deep--certainly beyond UBL and his associates, and beyond the CIA and its network of thugs, hustlers, and so on. We are living in a "criminalized" system--every major institution I've looked into (not just reading but experience) is deeply corrupt at the top and, in different ways on all levels. Far deeper and uglier than I had thought possible such that I don't believe there is a "political" solution or reform that can do very much in the short or medium term since it is so deep and entrenched and systemized. Change will require a spiritual revolution (I don't mean religion either) throughout society--I think we will see it emerge shortly.

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