Obama Promotes CIA Officer Responsible For El-Masri Abuse

In yet another slap at civil libertarians and the rule of law, the Obama Administration has promoted the CIA officer responsible for one of the most embarrassing scandals of the Bush Administration: the kidnapping and abuse of Khaled el-Masri.

It remains one of the most embarrassing acts of abuse internationally and the officer was recommended for punishment. However, the Obama Administration decided to promote her to one of the top positions at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

The article identifies the agent only by her middle name: Frances.

The article notes that, while the Administration and prior Administration quiet critics by saying that abusive officers are being investigated, they are often later promoted as in the case of two officers accused in the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan.

While the AP agreed to withhold last names, CIA spokesman George Little still called the AP’s decision to inform the public of the promotions and their first names as “nothing short of reckless.”

What is particularly striking is how such questions of discipline were reviewed and rejected by former CIA official Kyle “Dusty” Foggo — who was later imprisoned in an unrelated corruption case.

Of these cases the bungled and abusive case of el-Masri is the standout. El-Masri claimed to have been beaten, sodomized and drugged after his kidnapping but was barred from being able to sue over his treatment. Here is a copy of his complaint: El-Masri Complaint

While others doubted el-Masri was a terrorist, Frances pushed for his rendition despite her lack of field experience. After he was kidnapped and sent to Afghanistan, others continued to raise concerns that he was innocent and he notably held a German passport when the man who they were looking for was not a German citizen.

Even with growing proof that she had pushed for the kidnapping of an innocent man, Frances fought efforts to release him. It took five months to release him. Even the CIA inspector general found no basis for the rendition and even called the actions illegal. Also faulted was an attorney identified as Elizabeth for flawed legal analysis allowing these abuses to occur. My neighbor, former CIA director Michael Hayden, allowed a reprimand of the lawyer but blocked any disciplining of Frances. Notably, he himself has been named by civil libertarians for his participation in alleged crimes and he also claims that he was just following the legal advice of his lawyers. Thus, his actions reinforced his own personal claim of innocence.

By the way, Elizabeth was also promoted and is now legal adviser to the CIA’s Near East division. Thus, the lawyer (who advised that one of the most gruesome and outrageous abuses of the last decade could occur) has been promoted to give advice to the entire Near East division.

The decision of the Obama Administration to promote such officials is entirely consistent with the President’s policies of adopting and expanding Bush policies in the area while blocking public interest cases. It is also consistent with Obama’s assurance soon after his election that no CIA officer would be punished for torturing citizens or non-citizens. What he did not mention is that his Administration would promote officials involved in abuses.

The message is obvious for personnel in seeking advancement.

Source: Yahoo

65 thoughts on “Obama Promotes CIA Officer Responsible For El-Masri Abuse”

  1. MikeA, Exactly.

    The response to the BOA/Wikileaks problem proposed by Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Tech. is here:


    It mentions Glen Greenwald as a ‘volunteer’ for Wikileaks. It’s an interesting PDF. The Anonymous group recently hacked the account of an HBGary employee that had amassed a number of names and docs purported to be Anonymous group members for the purpose of selling the information to the FBI.

  2. “The same mindset drives the Government to shield high-level political officials who commit the most serious crimes, while relentlessly pursuing whistle-blowers who expose their wrongdoing. Those with proximity to government power and who serve and/or control it are free from the constraints of law; those who threaten or subvert it have the full weight of law come crashing down upon them. We must take heed of destroy this reality inequity.” For as long as it is allowed to continue, “liberty and justice for all” will remain a joke.


    That’s better.

  3. to continue on the rule of law issue: “The exemption from the rule of law has been fully transferred from the highest level political elites to their counterparts in the private sector. “Law” is something used to restrain ordinary Americans and especially those who oppose this consortium of government and corporate power, but it manifestly does not apply to restrain these elites. Just consider one amazing example illustrating how this works.

    After Anonymous imposed some very minimal cyber disruptions on Paypal, Master Card and Amazon, the DOJ flamboyantly vowed to arrest the culprits, and several individuals were just arrested as part of those attacks. But weeks earlier, a far more damaging and serious cyber-attack was launched at WikiLeaks, knocking them offline. Those attacks were sophisticated and dangerous. Whoever did that was quite likely part of either a government agency or a large private entity acting at its behest. Yet the DOJ has never announced any investigation into those attacks or vowed to apprehend the culprits, and it’s impossible to imagine that ever happening.

    Why? Because crimes carried out that serve the Government’s agenda and target its opponents are permitted and even encouraged; cyber-attacks are “crimes” only when undertaken by those whom the Government dislikes, but are perfectly permissible when the Government itself or those with a sympathetic agenda unleash them. Whoever launched those cyber attacks at WikiLeaks (whether government or private actors) had no more legal right to do so than Anonymous, but only the latter will be prosecuted.

    That’s the same dynamic that causes the Obama administration to be obsessed with prosecuting WikiLeaks but not The New York Times or Bob Woodward, even though the latter have published far more sensitive government secrets; WikiLeaks is adverse to the government while the NYT and Woodward aren’t, and thus “law” applies to punish only the former. The same mindset drives the Government to shield high-level political officials who commit the most serious crimes, while relentlessly pursuing whistle-blowers who expose their wrongdoing. Those with proximity to government power and who serve and/or control it are free from the constraints of law; those who threaten or subvert it have the full weight of law come crashing down upon them.” We must take heed of this reality.

  4. rafflaw,

    There really is a complete intwinement of the govt. and corporate media for purposes of disinformation, propaganda and destruction of anyone who dares legitimately challegne the govt. and corporations. In effect we have a state media. This is obscured because it is a public private collaboration, mostly unknown to our population. Here is Glenn Greenwald discussing it: “…For one thing, it turns out that the firms involved here are large, legitimate and serious, and do substantial amounts of work for both the U.S. Government and the nation’s largest private corporations (as but one example, see this email from a Stanford computer science student about Palantir). Moreover, these kinds of smear campaigns are far from unusual; in other leaked HB Gary emails, ThinkProgress discovered that similar proposals were prepared for the Chamber of Commerce to attack progressive groups and other activists (including ThinkProgress). And perhaps most disturbing of all, Hunton & Williams was recommended to Bank of America’s General Counsel by the Justice Department — meaning the U.S. Government is aiding Bank of America in its defense against/attacks on WikiLeaks.

    That’s why this should be taken seriously, despite how ignorant, trite and laughably shallow is the specific leaked anti-WikiLeaks proposal. As creepy and odious as this is, there’s nothing unusual about these kinds of smear campaigns. The only unusual aspect here is that we happened to learn about it this time because of Anonymous’ hacking. That a similar scheme was quickly discovered by ThinkProgress demonstrates how common this behavior is. The very idea of trying to threaten the careers of journalists and activists to punish and deter their advocacy is self-evidently pernicious; that it’s being so freely and casually proposed to groups as powerful as the Bank of America, the Chamber of Commerce, and the DOJ-recommended Hunton & Williams demonstrates how common this is. These highly experienced firms included such proposals because they assumed those deep-pocket organizations would approve and it would make their hiring more likely.

    But the real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power. I’ve written many times about this issue — the full-scale merger between public and private spheres — because it’s easily one of the most critical yet under-discussed political topics. Especially (though by no means only) in the worlds of the Surveillance and National Security State, the powers of the state have become largely privatized. There is very little separation between government power and corporate power. Those who wield the latter intrinsically wield the former. The revolving door between the highest levels of government and corporate offices rotates so fast and continuously that it has basically flown off its track and no longer provides even the minimal barrier it once did. It’s not merely that corporate power is unrestrained; it’s worse than that: corporations actively exploit the power of the state to further entrench and enhance their power.” (whole article at his column

  5. Mike S.,
    I do remember the story about Reagan’s father and our friends at the JBS. I first ran into a JBS member when my girlfriend’s(now wife) best friend introduced me to her father. All he wanted to talk about was JBS and he wanted to lend me a book about it. I poltitely said no thanks and we bolted out of there as quickly as possible.
    Mike A.,
    I agree that Obama has failed to rein in and prosecute the torturers and the CIA. I do not think he has much choice on Gitmo, however. Congress put up the roadblocks to that idea right from the start. As you mentioned, I am also concerned about the precedent being established or bolstered by the indefinite incarceration policies being continued.

  6. By not forcefully repudiating the legal abuses of the Bush administration, Pres. Obama ratified them in the minds of most Americans. By continuing to follow Bush policies on rendition and failing to close Guantanamo, Pres. Obama has institutionalized illegal practices. The result is the creation of a legal-political doctrine permitting indefinite detention and certain forms of torture despite constitutional, treaty and statutory prohibitions. The next president will face an almost impossible task should he or she undertake to undo the continuing damage. Regardless of what else he may accomplish, Pres. Obama has failed in his most important duty.

  7. Jill, I think holding Obama accountable is an excellent idea, but I don’t care to join Fox News in vilifying him.

  8. The anti war, civil rights and civil liberties movements have been on “stand down” for a long time now. They have more recently started ramping up again. This isn’t true of individuals or small groups, but large swaths of each movement have been silent for too long under Obama. That isn’t an opinion, that is a set of statistics one can look up if so inclined.

    Many people such as Scahill and Greenwald have spoken of their villification by Democrats when they hold Obama to account for his illegal and depraved actions. Again, not an opinion, rather it is something one may check for veracity.

    I agree that many on this blog now do hold Obama to account for his illegal and depraved actions. I am not certain exactly why others find this to be a wrong course of action.

    The effect of not holding first Bush and now Obama to account for their actions has been to enshrine torture, far reaching executive “powers”, mass surveillance, murder and other horrifying things into our law. When these actions are done by the president they are now legal. They will stay legal until the population no longer tolerates such actions from the govt.

  9. SM,
    Sometimes I can’t remember what I did yesterday.

    As a sidebar, do you remember that Nancy Reagan’s father was a JBS member.

  10. Mike S.,
    I think you described President Obama’s intentions pretty good. I also agree that the Tea Party is just the new John Birch society with the same money backers, the Koch Brothers.

  11. Mike S: I did not say all men here. I don’t know if you remember Tony C and that discussion.

  12. SM
    There ain’t no tea party. Just a bunch of wealthy plutocrats, like the Koch brothers, supporting some misguided people in a faux movement, given far too much credence by a corporate media. As far as many men here believing in punishing Pelosi, I’m not sure that’s correct. I’ve also been clear for many years now that I think our government is run by a corporate oligarchy, whose only saving grace is the disunity caused by their own inflated egos. I liked Pelosi and thought she did her best given the reality I expressed above. As far as President Obama goes, I’ve admitted here that he certainly fooled me, but there to I think that he’s not a bad person, but just an aspirant to join the “Wise Old Men’s”
    club as a very rare black member. Harold Ford is already a member in good standing.

  13. “Are they evil?, Ignorant? I don’t think so. They are sociopaths. I can not persuade myself that anyone that has any moral sense could implement and maintain the policies we decry here.”

    I can’t say I disagree with you that most, if not all, of them are sociopaths. While psychology knows a lot about sociopathy, that knowledge is primarily descriptive. How they think, or what they think about themselves is largely speculative, since sociopaths are unlikely to write books detailing what they think about being a sociopath. The vast majority of them probably don’t even know they are sociopaths. As for ignorance, my belief is that they actually believe they are doing good. However, even though I’ve worked with some genuine sociopaths I am far from being expert on their thought processes because their condition only was revealed to me in hindsight, as I realized how much they had fooled me. So in truth I’m just making an educated guess about their thought processes, which in fact may well be wrong.

  14. Jill: I welcome your views but I don’t have to agree with them. I really don’t believe Roger Ailes is on Obama’s side. You did tell me to make friends with the tea party members in my neighborhood. I don’t find them to be a very friendly group. Probably more men agree with you on this blog than they do with me. Bringing Pelosi down and punishing her was the goal of many here.

  15. Jill,
    I have been called a lot of names on blogs and people have vehemently disagreed with me, but it did not deter me from speaking up. I really don’t think Fox News is anything but a shill for the corporatists who are always worried that they will lose their power and money. They are dissenting against Obama on a constant basis as Swarthmore Mom has displayed, but they are all about the money. I disagree with you that real dissent is vilified by the left. It just may be that the left you are referring to does not agree with you on some issues.

  16. Since I was thinking of Egypt I went to Al Jazeera and the banners on their live feed are … the military has stepped in to “safeguard the country”…Senior Egyptian army commander tells protestors their demands will be met… Egyptian army earlier prevented Mubarak from making speech handing power over to the VP.

    The commentator is saying that Mubarak will make a statement Thursday night and it looks like he will step down. The crowd in the square looks happy in tight shots.


  17. Jill,

    Who’s tried to shut you out? I’d wager a good 1/2 of the blog INCLUDING the host share your disgust with the situation.

    Please stop misrepresenting the people here. This is at least the third time I’ve commented on you said “there’s no dissent” on a posting critical of the Obama administration.

    The truth serves justice far more than distortions ever could.


    That’s more than a bit of a reach. I mean, I’ve seen the video, and it’s a whole bunch scripted stupid.

    It’s just that somehow I don’t think those people really have a problem with Obama continuing Bush’s foreign policy and not prosecuting war criminals. Which is what Jill’s complaining about.

    A better example would be to quote Seamus, or myself, or Prof. Turley, or Glenn Greenwald, or David Sirota, or any number of people that have substantive criticism of Obama.

    The truth serves your cause better than distortions ever could.

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