Early Morning Report – July 29, 2013

P1010029On Sundays I’m writing my little story about Trooper John Naimovich. In that you will see the tactics used by the U.S. attorneys office and the FBI. These are repeated time after time. They jam someone in who is not the target, scare the hell out of the person, and tell her if she gives them something on the target they’ll give her a break.

The incentive to get oneself off the hook by hook or by crook is so great that the likelihood of a crooked tale is almost a certainty. A civilized society would outlaw such tactics. Evidence obtained by threat of having one’s family impoverished and telling the person she will do an outlandish amount of prison time for non-violent acts should really be barred as we do with torture evidence. But it remains the tried and true tactic used by the US attorneys in Boston, and elsewhere in the country.

Their reply will be how else are we to get the evidence? That’s what people who torture proclaim. If that’s how you have to get it then do without.

The federals first decide what is true. They demand witnesses to confirm their belief or suffer unimaginable consequences. Welcome to federal prosecutions. We’ve seen it play out in the Whitey case over and over and we’ve seen the consequences of their deal making.

Writing about Naimovich required me to go back over some old transcripts. (Sounds too much like work doing something like that on a nice summer weekend.) I found one little interchange between the court and counsel that I thought I’d mention. You’ve heard how AUSA Wyshak frequently uses speaking objections which means rather than just saying “objection” he’ll speak out the reason for it such as “asked and answered” which is improper. It worked well for him in this case because the judge often would sustain it, tell the defense counsel to ask another question, he’d ask the next question in an almost indiscernibly different manner than the first, and we’d get the answer. Even after the judge ruled, Wyshak would sometimes go on complaining.

Here’s what happened when something like that happened before Judge Joseph Tauro in the Naimovich case:

Defense counsel:     “Do you recall that sir?” 

Witness:     “I told – – – “

AUSA:       “Objection:”

Judge Tauro:     “Overruled.”

Defense counsel:      “Do you recall that, sir?”

AUSA:      “Your honor, he never gave them a five-page statement.”

Judge Tauro:     Don’t ever,  ever argue after I’ve made a ruling. Don’t ever do that again. Do you understand.”

AUSA:    “Yes, Your honor.”

That’s what Judge Casper should have done in this trial. I’ve said she tried to be fair but she was bullied by Wyshak a bit. The Globe has a good article about her today. I couldn’t help smiling reading: “She avoids sidebars between the lawyers, if she can.” Far be it for the Globe to do other than be a toady to a federal judge, never know when you want a hand up over the others.

Having watched Judge Tauro try cases, I’m sure Wyshak acts differently in front of him. Tauro has gravitas – I’ve compared him before to the captain of a British man-o-war who had the power of summary execution for those who disobeyed. Judge Casper will soon develop that.

Enough of that, now on to what lies ahead of us today. As best I can tell we will hear from some FBI agents who are to tell us they complained about John Connolly going through their files and stealing some of their reports. It amounts to going back over the non-issue of whether Whitey was an informant, an issue only important to Whitey and Wyshak, certainly not to any of the matters that will concern the jury.

I’ll let you know what happens but nothing important will be brought out by the defense. As I noted in response to Jim one of the persons who adds a lot to this blog earlier today that Carney and Brennan were handed a: “bag of chicken feet and asked to make a swan out of it.” They never had a defense but put on a good show of it by holding the government’s feet to the fire requiring it to prove its case and giving Whitey highly effective assistance of counsel.

This case is not about the guilt or innocence of Whitey. There’s no doubt of his guilt. The final argument should be 30 seconds rather than 3 hours. Here’s all that has to be said: “Look at who the man had as associates and partners and decide if he did the things he is charged with.”

If things were on the level Whitey would have been allowed to plead guilty to the charges like Ariel Castro and Catherine Greig have received a year in prison for going off with him. Or a simple gun case in California would have come about which would put him away for the rest of his life.

But this case is about legacy. Wyshak’s and Whitey’s. Wyshak seizing his final moment in the glare of the adoring media; Whitey telling his tale of evil to set the record straight.

In truth, though, this case and all the cases relating to this issue have merely been the facade behind which the prosecutors hope we will not peek. It is the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Potemkin village. It is put in front of the folks to hide the story of great corruption in the DOJ.

The verdict is a foregone conclusion, but it will not be the conclusion of this story.




  1. William Connolly

    John Connolly committed at worst a few non-violent minor crimes 5 to 10 years after he left the FBI. He did nothing for Whitey Bulger but what his superiors told him to do. He served honorably for 23 years as an FBI agent, and the Boston Federal jury found him guilty of only one act during that time: transmitting a case of wine from Whitey to Connolly’s admittedly corrupt supervisor John Morris. The Boston Federal jury acquitted him of all the serious trumped up charges brought against him by Fed FredWyshak’s colleagues. 2. IN Florida, Connolly was victimized by overly zealous prosecutors turning their back on the Constitution including the Prohitibion against Double Jeopardy and the counsel of Supreme Court Justices who have written harshly against “tandem prosecutions.”

  2. Rather Not,

    I believe the title of that book is “The Last Hurrah”.

    • That’s it. Excellent book. I think it reflected accurately the polarized political atmosphere of early 20th century , and more importantly to our current case….the place of the Irish in those days in Brahmin Boston, and the long-held insular and loyal-to-my-own attitudes that it spawned. Maybe that’s why Zip was able to go to such lengths for Whitey, consequences be damned.

    • Ernie and Matt,

      Couple of thoughts:

      1. Before our back and forth gets too heated, let me just say that I am arguing from a position of good faith. As you well know, I come to the blog because I consider it to be the best-informed source on all matters Bulger. I have learned a great deal from this site, from the posts and commentary, and for that I am appreciative and grateful. In particular, I like that Matt keeps the discussions civil and based on the facts. I guess that doesn’t have to be restated, but since I apparently come to issues of national security from a different perspective, and because such issues tend to get visceral, I find it helpful to restate that I am arguing in good faith.

      2. Note that I have not explicitly endorsed “torture”. In fact, I would likely be disinclined to engage in “torture” if I were ever in a position to make that choice. In part, because of my personality, but really for a lot of reasons as well. That said, if I’m going to be honest with myself, I cannot deny that I do believe there is a legitimate debate about the definition of “torture” and the efficacy of “torture”. Hence, putting it in quotes. You may roll your eyes, but one could argue that putting Whitey away in ADX Florence is “torture”. Or putting anyone in any prison is America is “torture” given the conditions of prison life in this country. It’s not a fun condition. So I think it is indeed more than just a matter of semantics. That said, I also think that common sense can guide us here and we can agree that water-boarding is “torture”. As for efficacy, I also think there’s a legitimate debate. But without getting into that debate, the only point I wanted to make is that the whole issue of whether EITs were effective has been viewed erroneously as a question of whether enhanced interrogation was the sole source of information. When I say it’s more complicated, I’m not trying to explain away “big lies” or be an apologist or distort the issue. I can understand Matt’s unequivocal stance that “torture is wrong” and “torture is torture”. But I was not really addressing that matter. I was only saying that the use of EITs was one of several tactics in an overall strategic approach to intelligence collection, and that EITs alone was never the strategy. Of course “torture” does not work. That was never the claim. But EITs as part of an overall strategy for gaining information and whether EITs made a marginal contribution within the framework of that strategy – that’s a legitimate discussion. I believe you’ll disagree, but that’s all I’m saying.

      3. Ernie: on the NSA matter, as I’ve said I come to this issue with a different perspective. We are going to disagree. I hope that we can all at least accept that we have differing viewpoints and we can respect that. My view is that the concern is entirely theoretical and immaterial. I just don’t understand why I should care that in some abstract realm of metadata the government is able to log my phone calls. It’s entirely unobtrusive and the only privacy “violation” is that the government knows who I called. I don’t know why I should care, especially when surveillance contributes to national security. The NSA director has testified that the surveillance program disrupted 54 plots, including the September 2009 attempt to bomb the NYC subways. I’ll let the government know whom I’ve called in return for the disrupting of a plot that could have killed scores in the NYC subway.

      Matt has reasonably asked: if our privacy can be violated on such grounds, where does it stop, as if to say we are on a slippery slope. I would simply say that it stops when government actions become unreasonable. I’m not being glib. I’m saying that these are contentious matters of debate, but at some point I do sincerely believe that our democratic culture will recognize when an “unreasonable” line has been crossed. Abraham Lincoln was forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and the Constitution survived. I understand the criticisms, but it is part of our democratic culture and society that we debate the pros and cons and decide when where it stops.

      4. Re: Harry Anslinger. Matt, I was being a little tongue n cheek, which does not mean there’s not a grain of truth to it. Of course the world is not ruled literally by the strong. But I am of the view that one must know with whom he is dealing and proceed accordingly. Zubaydah was a hardened terrorist. To say otherwise is simply not to know the facts. Frankly, as a man I don’t really care that he was water-boarded just as I don’t care that Whitey will end up in ADX. Obviously, that’s not the position that a decision-maker in an official government capacity should have, but it is one I can have as a citizen who understands the evil of which the man was capable.

      I would disagree about brainwashing. I think the notion that this was just Zubaydah brainwashed reflects the simplified view of EITs that I was criticizing in the first place. The whole Zubaydah interrogation is an interesting history in the first place, starting first with former FBI agent Ali Soufan who claims it was only after “torture” was stopped that Zubaydah gave up useful information, and we are to believe him because he was one of the FBI interrogators. Soufan however leaves out some crucial bits of information which I don’t have the time to get into now.

      In short, it was a cat and mouse game between two formidable forces – US interrogators and ideologically-hardened terrorists highly trained in counter-interrogation techniques. It was not the FBI versus Amy Lord.

      5. As for the “big lie”: not to be cute, but it’s more complicated. The post 9/11 national security apparatus arose much more in a state of confusion and ad hoc decision-making than some grand plan to tell us a big lie. Take Gitmo, which is an issue I know fairly well. The Gitmo lobby would have us prosecute detainees under normal procedures of US criminal law, or even if they concede that criminal law is too restrictive and so some version of “extra-criminal” law must apply, there must nevertheless be some procedure for prosecution under the auspices of US constitutional law. In a word, detainees should have access to lawyers and their cases tried before the courts.

      This is how terrorism cases were handled in the world prior to 9/11. Hence, Shiekh Omar al Rahman and Ramzi Yousef (1993 WTC bombing) and others now sit in federal prisons after being convicted in US courts. As a side note, their prosecution and conviction in a court of law are not ignored in Al Qaeda propaganda and thus recruitment, despite the claims that closing Gitmo and prosecuting detainees in the US courts would “restore our image” and remove a propaganda and recruitment tool from the hands of Al Qaeda leaders. Whether in Gitmo or in federal prisons, detainees are still imprisoned by the infidels.

      The point I wish to make is that, in a state of war, the normal procedures of law break down. You can’t conduct a dispassionate, slow, and steady process of discovery and write up memorandums and motions and basically move through the courts as you would in a normal criminal case. Why? One, for the obvious reason that war is chaotic and thus such procedures are impractical, but two, and more importantly, because doing so was counterproductive and undermined our efforts to understand the enemy and prevent attacks in the sudden “war on terror” in which we found ourselves.

      In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, countless threats were coming into the purview of US intelligence, and they were coming from an enemy we did not understand. The pressure under which officials in the Bush administration worked every day was to understand the enemy and prevent attacks. The war on terror was a war on those who would wage the next attacks. Hence, the need for intelligence.

      Ultimately, we could come to understand that the enemy is a network of jihadists unified and emboldened by ideology and strengthened by operative expertise and financial backing. The network was many years in the making and formed from a hardened cadre of jihad-inspired Islamists bent on restoring the caliphate and breaking down Western societies. Not all “terrorists” are alike, of course, so you can distinguish the elite from the cannon fodder, and write stories about why any given jihadist comes to the jihad. But by and large, if you study the history and organization of al Qaeda and its hydra of terrorist groups (Taliban, the alphabet soup of Pakistani groups like the LET and LeJ and HUJI and HUM and SSP and TTP and more, South Asian and Central Asian groups like IMU, ETIP, etc.) you see that there is an extensive network of individuals indoctrinated by the works of thinkers like Sayyid Qtub and organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, financially backed by innumerable organizations falling under the MB umbrella, operating under charitable fronts like al Wafa and Jamaat Tablighi and al Haramain, and recruited and trained by a network of operatives who had built up their expertise in the devising of plots over several decades.

      How did we come to understand this enemy? Some of it we already knew. But many of the details and nodes of the network came from the interrogation and de-briefing of detainees at Guantanamo. I challenge you to read through all the documents from the CSRT and ARB hearings that were declassified by DoD and currently sit nicely organized at http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo. If you spend a few months studying these documents, you can begin to see how valuable was the intelligence gained from these detainees. Forget for a moment about evaluating the allegations of any given detainee (which is not to underestimate their import), and focus on information that shows up consistently across detainees – such as radical clerics and mosques (Shiek Muqbil al Wadi in Yemen, or Finsbury Park mosque in London), recruiters and facilitators, travel routes, financial networks, guesthouses, and training camps. These are the nodes of the network that had developed over many years and into which indoctrinated jihadists fell on their way to carrying out any particular plot.

      We needed this information, and we needed it fast. And we got it from detainees. Through interrogations and debriefing we gained a strategic understanding of the enemy. Now, how did we do it? Contrary to mythologizing by the left, we did not just pick up random guys and torture them. 70,000 people were picked up in the months following the bombing of Tora Bora, 10,000 were intensely screened, and 780 or so ended up in Gitmo. That is, the US had no interest in picking up random guys. They wanted guys who knew something, to learn from them and detain them so they didn’t go back and help with more attacks. So yes, there were procedures in place to evaluate people picked up. Lots of people were involved – lawyers, intelligence officials, etc. And so it was that almost 800 guys ended up at Gitmo.

      Now, Gitmo opened in early 2002, and a Gitmo lobby of lawyers emerged because they were concerned that random guys were arbitrarily rounded up and had no access to lawyers to challenge detention. Perhaps they believed detainees might be “guilty”, but didn’t like the lack of access to lawyers.

      Whatever the case, it’s not true that the Bush adminstration was a lawless bunch of thugs just happy to detain innocent men. In the chaos of war, it wasn’t so easy to come up with a clean and simply set of procedures for determining what to do with the men they believed to be the “worst of the worst”. One thing was clear – keep them out of US courts. They weren’t US citizens, and the point was to gather intelligence, not prosecute criminals. I’m not a lawyer, but I believe detention until the end of a state of war has always been the norm under the laws of war. So nothing really new here. Moreover, early on there was an intention to eventually deal with detainees in military commissions rather than US courts, which again is not all that outside the norm. This is how Roosevelt dealt with Nazi saboteurs who landed on US shores in June 1942, and all those bastions of the left like the NYT times in that time defended him, in fact urged him on. This brings us to another point.

      The Bush administration operated in a post-Watergate world in which lawyers had their hand in everything. Roosevelt wished to mitigate the POLITICAL consequences of such things as military commissions and Japanese internment. Bush wished to mitigate the JUDICIAL consequences, and hence, ironically, the Bush administration, in fact, focused extensively on getting the law right. As Jack Goldsmith said (he was the OLC head in 2003-04 and has written the best critique of Bush’s terror policies), never have lawyers had such influence.

      It was also a world in which executive powers had been diminished by such things as the War Powers Act. And this is where Cheney comes in. Cheney was not only obsessed with preventing the next attack, but obsessed with restoring the powers of the presidency he believed needed restoring. The upshot is the Bush administration felt that it was responsible for protecting America and wanted every power possible to do so.

      Goldsmith has written that the mistake they made was to do so without trying to build consensus with Congress and others. It’s a reasonable critique. But putting that aside, to get back to Gitmo and “torture” and the “big lie”, the point was to gather intelligence, understand the enemy, and prevent the next attack, not to pull the wool over our eyes. I would say that, mistakes aside, they did a pretty damned good job.

      In closing, I appreciate the vigorous debate and discussion we have on this site. We can simply agree to disagree, but I just wanted to air out my thoughts. Thanks for reading.

      • Jon,…tell us how you really feel. Just kidding. Excellent post. Valid points. Very Informative.

      • Jon, you must tell us about your workout regimen. Firing on all pistons right out of the gym!

        • Pam:

          Haha. Workouts help me to clear the head. Today was an easy workout so I was also able to think through what I wanted to say while exercising.

      • Jon:
        Nice return comment but since this trial I have slipped off my exercise routine so my mind may not be as clear as yours seem to have gotten since you did some free weights or whatever you did at the gym.
        -1 No one doubts anyone’s good faith here especially that of people like yourself who have been around for a bit. We’re here to discuss and inform and not agree. As I’ve often said, we learn from each other and make our decisions based on what we know, what is argued and are open to being persuaded to something different based upon the information that is put forth. We understand that we can disagree with someone 180 degrees on some issues but still not questions the other’s good faith presentation. Who knows after listening to the person there might only be a 160 degree difference.
        -2. I agree that the word torture is very vague. Wasn’t Flemmi suggesting that his time at Walpole prison some form of torture because the telephone was broken, he had no television, and the other inmates were calling him vile names. I’m happy to see that you agree water boarding is torture. I don’t like the word EIT because I’d like a clear line drawn between torture and non torture. EIT seems to me to be a word to allow torture, as we saw when it allowed water boarding. I think there are things that one can and should do that are harsh and uncomfortable and I’m far from wanting to coddle some of these vicious people – it’s just that I want a line that we agree we can’t go past – a line that is drawn by experienced investigators and not do gooders. I agree it is important that we get whatever information we can but we should not be in the cutting off of toes business if that has worked in the past.
        -3. On the NSA issue you will note there is rising discontent in Congress for what the NSA is doing. There is a recognition that storing information on every American is unreasonable since it amount to a general search which was the reason for the 4th Amendment. I suggest comparing Lincoln’s declaration of martial law when the nation is fighting for its survival to anything that is happening today just doesn’t work. We do not face any more of a threat than what we’ve seen already in this War on Terror (WOT). It is not really a war like the Civil War but more like the War on Drugs. The WOT has no end unlike real wars.
        -4. Zubaydah is a bad guy. If you don’t care that he was tortured would you have cared if we decided to amputate an arm and his toes? Or pulled out his fingernails? I know how you feel because at times I think he should have been slowly lowered into a hungry crocodile pool but I do have to pull back from that position. I stick with the brainwashing idea. I don’t buy the FBI pitch that it was the nice guy approach that got the information. Zubaydah was only ready for the nice guy approach after he had been sufficiently softened up by the brutes who worked him over.
        -5. I agree with a lot of what you say and how those in power not knowing the threat felt an enormous pressure to trample down everyone’s rights until a better understanding was obtained. When 9/11 came we acted forcefully, rashly and justifiably given our awareness of things. Thanks for educating us on those areas and I want to get back to them but other things are pressing.
        With the Guantanamo people – my complaint is that it was messed up in one aspect – we should have had procedures in place to advise the people of the reason they were being held and given them a mechanism to challenge it – not in the civilian courts but in a military setting where the security of the information could be maintained but the idea of noticing a person of his criminal acts and given the opportunity to be heard – I have no problem with Guantanamo I and of itself – I’d like to have seen the Marathon Terrorist Bomber sent down there if we had a better system – I think we should have a system where a person who commits an act in support of the concepts promulgated by Al Quaeda gets a summary hearing before a judge where the basis for that belief is set out and that judge can decide, even if the person is an American citizen, that he meets the criteria of an ‘enemy operative’ and the person gets shipped off to Guantanamo where other rights are afforded him in accordance with the laws of war, keeping in mind this is an endless war.

        • Matt,

          Nice reply. On #3, I have noted that and we’ll see what happens. I do continue to support NSA surveillance, but obviously many disagree. I agree that the Lincoln analogy is not exactly comparable, but I think it’s worth citing as an example of the balance between principle and contingency.

          On #2 and #4, I understand the desire to distinguish clearly between torture and non-torture. But I think using EITs does help to emphasize that the “torture” was primarily psychological – in other words, breaking the will, not pulling fingernails and breaking legs. That said, I don’t think I’d like being subjected to sleep deprivation, constant loud music, and in the few rare cases, water-boarding.

          Maybe we can take up some of these issues when the trial is over and you continue to engage some of these topics on the blog.

        • Btw, I did have a chuckle at reading the references to the gym by you and Pam Beasley. Haha, it wasn’t really the gym though. I just checked my phone while doing some free weights and saw Ernie’s comment, and that got me thinking about a response that just poured out once I got home.

          I have to say that it’s not hard to notice that from time to time Matt has shown a talent for, as they say in the mob movies, “breaking balls”. Don’t know if it’s a Southie thing. But it definitely was a Providence thing when I was young. And it’s a good thing. Adds a little humor and spice 🙂

        • One small note: the operative term was “enemy combatant” and during the Combatant Status Tribunal Hearings there was a chance for detainees to make remarks in their defense.

      • Jon, maybe its a generatipn thing on the nsa. Young Kennedu and all.
        O will suggest that not seeing a problem w it as it relates to everything the constitution is about is like not seeing any problem with restaurant and hospital workers not washing hands after going the bathroom.
        You cant see the germs so why bother?

        • Ernie,

          It really just is the case that I think NSA metadata surveillance is a good thing. I think the main reason there is criticism is because we are instinctively suspicious of things kept secret. But secrecy was essential to its effectiveness. Already it has been reported that AQ has begun to change its communication tactics in response to the revelations. That is highly unfortunate. There is also the damage to diplomacy and trade and other foreign policy relations.

          Secrecy was essential, and I would only concede that I hope there was Congressional input from relevant members of Congress within a classified discussion. Or at least some kind of legal analysis and debate among those with appropriate qualifications and security clearances, which I do not doubt there was.

          I can pick up colds and infections from germs I do not see. I see absolutely no material harm to my life from NSA surveillance, only the benefit that an effective tactic is being used to make sure I don’t get blown up.

          • If I understand correctly bf the govt would ask for info on a particular cust and phone company hands it over 99% of time. Warrant required for other times. Today’s technology makes it happen in seconds. No slow downs bc of extra step.
            Now govt keeps all records. They don’t have to ask. Much much easier for them to go fishing and build false narrative against anyone they or a lone nut decide to poof.
            Imagine if wyshak could thumb threw Matt Connollys phone records and create a narrative against Matt poofing him?

  3. Matt,

    I agree that the deal-making with murderers, thieves, and bandits in this case is atrocious.

    One note on the torture issue with respect to GWOT. It was never so simple as subjecting someone to stress positions, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding, to name to most cited examples, until the detainee told interrogators what they wanted to hear. There is an important distinction to be drawn b/w interrogation and de-briefing. Interrogation, including EITs, was about breaking a detainees resistance. Jihadi terrorists were highly trained in counter-interrogation. In fact, the first thing KSM said to Deuce Martinez after his capture was “where’s my lawyer?” It was only after breaking resistance that detainees were then de-briefed. Now, of course you can argue that de-briefing was still under duress because the threat of further interrogation remained. But even then it’s not so simple.

    First, Abu Zubaydah, AQ operations chief until his capture in March 2002, thanked his interrogators after so much time saying that Allah permits giving up after being subjected to “torture” that one can no longer bear. In other words, the jihadist must resist until he can’t and is then free to divulge.

    Second, even then it’s not as if interrogators just wrote down blindly what they were told. Answers have to make sense. You could say that you’d say you’re mother is a hippopotamus to avoid any more torture. The problem is no one will believe you. Moreover, in addition to “making sense”, information must be cross-checked all the other material and evidence gathered, such as pocket litter, info stored on laptops and phones retrieved in raids, and the overall current knowledge of the network, as well as the testimony of other detainees.

    I’m not saying go ahead and torture, just saying that it’s more complicated than just saying go ahead and torture to get whatever information you want. If it were that simple, we would have been attacked again because the intelligence collection would have been totally incompetent.

    One would hope it’s a little similar here in that it’s not just about relying on the testimony of murderers, thieves, and bandits just to get at the POOFs. Unfortunately, it seems more and more like that is exactly what has happened.

    Separate note: I’m enjoying the Naimovich series. Also, still waiting to hear what you have to say about my ambivalence about Rico. That is, it is common knowledge Barboza committed perjury with the willing acquiescence of the FBI. I’m certainly capable of believing the bureaucracy is to blame, but how could Rico not have known? Maybe he shouldn’t be the POOF, but he’s still got to have known that perjury was being suborned. And he was the main guy, talking w Barboza some 30 times b/w March and September of 1967. Along w Condon. Why shouldn’t he be held responsible for suborning perjury? Similarly with respect to Red Kelley.

    • Jon:

      We disagree on torture. I see it as being absolutely impermissible. Justify it once, then it is justifiable forever. That’s not something Americans do. I recall the Bataan marches which were considered as evil but I’m sure the Japanese could justify them. Telling me that someone thanked his captives for torturing them reminds me of poor Amy Lord who was so terrorized by the person who would murder her tha he could let her out of the car and know she would come back.

      I’m also suggesting that the person will give the answer the feds are looking for even if it is untrue. They usually know enough as we’ve seen in this case to fill in the blanks.

      On Rico – I’ll have to go back to your post. I passed it because it raised good issues that I wanted to consider. Thanks for reminding me of it. As for Red Kelly, that was a Rhode Island set up – a notorious Mafia stronghold.

      • William Connolly

        Matt, Jon: Torture like TEI’s yields dubious testimony: (2) However, Jon wrote: “If it were that simple, we would have been attacked again because the intelligence collection would have been totally incompetent.” You have forgotten we were attacked again: You forgot the Boston Terrorist Attack and the Doctor Muslim at Fort Hood (?) who forgot his Hippocratic Oath (“First of all do no harm!”) while he gunned down scores of innocent fellow soldiers; and you’ve forgotten that some of the foiled terrorist attacks in the last decade on our soil and overseas had nothing to do with FED/CIA/HomelandSecurity/FBI intervention, never mind Federal torture, but those planned attacks were prevented/foiled by luck (alert locals; bombs failing to go off). Of course Harvard Law Professor Allan Dershowitz is called Professor Torture by some as he advocates legalizing Torture like Kevorkian advocated legalized “mercy deaths.” How many sorry, atavistic, anti-Christian innovations are the FEDs and DOJ prepared to “re-invent” and impose upon us, a supposed Free People “under God.”? Leave “torture” to the atheistic barbarians. I wouldn’t trust that power in the hand of Federal judges, Federal prosecutors, and Federal Investigators. Someone like Wyshak would be seeking “torture warrants” against City Councilor Chuck Turner’s 70 year old wife or Congressman Tierney’s critics. (3) Amy Lord is another victim of narcotics trafficking and the FEDs inability to stop narcotics coming into our neighborhoods. Her killer no doubt (judging from his malignant, violent criminal record) was a junkie!!!

        • William, I agree and Fort Hood and Boston occurred to me as I wrote. I forgot to add “during the Bush administration”. But the second thing is that both those attacks were homegrown, though not entirely without outside assistance (Awlaki for Nidal Hassan; don’t know enough about Boston).

          The only real point I wished to make is that it is a media simplification/fabrication to say that EITs were about getting information through torture, as if it was just a case of torturing a guy until he told you what he wanted to hear. That’s just a rank distortion of the history.

        • William:

          Torture once approved, as you note, could be the tool of many a bad person. Justify in one circumstance, you can always do it in another. Good comment.

      • Well, I’m not justifying “torture” only saying the EIT issue is more complicated than you portrayed it.

        Here are Zubaydah’s words: “brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.”

        Harry Anslinger once said in response to criticisms of his bureau’s rough tactics: “the world is ruled by the strong. Always has, always will.” I agree, though what that means in terms of interrogation is one on which we may disagree, and that’s okay. I only want to say that the usual portrayal of the EIT issue is a lot like the media portrayal of the Bulger saga: full of fiction.

        • Jon, it is not more complicated. It only justifies their requests for more money and power.
          Especially when we are fighting ghosts I mean terrorists.

          • Ernie,

            I vehemently disagree.

            Since we’re on the topic, Bruce Reidel has a good piece about what we can expect when NATO withdraws from Afghanistan next year:


          • Complicated enough for torture and governments mass collection of data concerning every u.s. resident, who when where and how long they talk to someone on phone. And much more.
            Yet in this so complicated world our government has stopped scores of domestic terrorists attacks. Only the marathon bomber got through.
            Sounds like a Big Lie to me Jon

        • Jon:

          Harry Aslinger is wrong. The world has never been ruled by anyone. Some have temporarily conquered others but the resiliance of the people has always won in the end.

          About Zubadah’s words: those ore the words of a man brain washed by his captors. Have you seen some poor Americans who wee captured by the terrorists, the North Koreans or North Vietnamese never mind the Germans or Japanese.

          What you call EIT, take waterboarding for instance, was always called tortured. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

  4. Excellent post. DOJ told Jo Murphy be a co operating witness or be a defendant. He told them no , got indicted and convicted and served three years. Saw him after his release and he said he had nothing to give them on anyone but they wouldn’t accept it. 2. The Feds have to do more than show he was associated with bad people. How many people played cards or softball with Eddie Connors but were not involved in his criminal activity. There is no guilt by association. 3. The old Chinese saying that ” if you sit by the river long enough the body of your enemy will float by” is the philosophy the victims of the DOJ will have to embrace.

    • N:

      1. Who was that guy who got drunk and bragged that he was a bag man for the mayor who was overheard by an FBI agent dragged before a grand jury and asked about it. The poor bum didn’t remember even saying it and he was just a low level city hall employee who’d met the mayor once at a fund raiser. Befoer the grand jury he denied he ever said that and proclaimed his innocence. The feds indicted him for perjury.

      2. The Feds assume if you play softball with a bad guy you are involved in playing a game with him. If you are on the same team, you are probably helping him out one way or the other. What more do you need to start squeezing someone.

      3. Better proverb: “you will drown in a river of tears if the feds see you playing cards with a bad guy.

      • Matt, was it a guy named Kineavy?

      • Matt and N: Remember Bobby Cunningham, Viet Vet, great football player, at Northeastern I recall and semi-pro, well he was the head of Mass Public Safety, and he was “caught” horror or horrors playing handball with some ex-cons; he played handball with hundreds of guys in gyms and Ys all over the Boston area, but “caught red-handed”, the Globe demanded his firing and he was, and the Globe picked some Harvard Radical, probably, as his successor. Strange but true: And I’d be careful about fishing in that river near someone who ever committed a crime!!! The FEDs or Globees will get you!!!

        • William:
          The only Cunningham I ever knew married a CIA operative went off to live in the woods of Maine and would only surface during the fall to go to Alumni Stadium to watch a football game. A good guy. He used to have seats near a couple of guys I knew.

  5. i myself have been in this situation… where the federal government will hold you in a federal detention center waiting for you to RAT on an innocent person, take your freedom, the dismiss the charge against you only to wait 3 years later and charge you with a lessor ridiculous charge, well i can tell you 3 years later i was married and put on federal house arrest, that destroyed my marriage ….. given 2500 hours of community service after suffering 2 strokes, i lost my family, because i would not lie about another man, to gain my freedom, the price for being a stand up guy cost me my family….. and a second stroke, today i stand disabled over the 2 strokes that were stress related, during the 3 years of torture waiting for your life to be destroyed…. in the end i knew nothing gave them nothing because there was nothing to give, lost my family and live alone on disability, at the hands of the federal government….. and the tactics used to force confessions to satisfy an illicit confession… that never came, i was told that they were fully aware of my bond with my 3 year old son and that they intended to use that as their pressure to enforce a false confession… watching my son thru a plexus glass window was heart breaking… but i would not lie to set my self free, these tactics need to stop.

    • Joey:

      Thanks for telling your story. That had to be a form of torture to get released and then charged again. That the feds have the ability to do things like that is something that should be more widely known. Appreciate your imput.

    • JOEY-How goes the project? Looking forward to seeing you shine pal!

  6. Todays NYPD Confidential column by Len Levitt (you’ll have to use the Google to get to it as posting links that work is beyond my computer capabilities) provides some interesting information about BPD and MSP’s true feelings toward the state of the Boston Joint Terrorism Taskforce.

    • JHG:

      That was a good article. I disagree with the authors recommendations for twhat the he Boston and State police should do relative to the JTTF. I’d tell the FBi that they were pulling out of it and setting up their own JTTF. I’d tell the FBI it is invited to join if it likes. That would frighten the FBI enough into opening what they have going into a true partnership.

  7. Another Matthew in Texas

    You really boiled down the ocean down to its salt in this post, so glad I found your site. I hope you realize how much you are appreciated by those who take the time to read your entries.

    • Another:

      Thanks. It’s good to be able to put out another side to things. It’s the reason historical knowledge is often important.

  8. Brilliant post, Matt. Nor will the verdict of that court or courthouse or prosecutors’ office be the verdict of history, although “historical revisionism” not “truthful fact finding” is the modus operandi of most in the Media/Press/Publishing Businesses today. Still,, there are honest historians like Tom O’Connor (“The Boston Irish)(BC’ chairman emeritus of history, R.I.P.), Philbrick (“Bunker Hill”) Thomas Fleming (American History prof. extrordinaire, who “disagrees” with academia’s p.c. revisionists and deconstructionists), and David McCullough (“John Adams”),and their up and coming honest acolytes.

    • William:

      We will get one version of these events from the media following in footstep those who have come before. But the historians will see there is more to this because of people like you with another opinion.

    • William, you just reminded me of a book my grandmother gave me years ago. It was a great read, historical Boston fiction of course, and I cant remember the title, but its main character was a polititian named Frank Skeffington, based on James Michael Curley and his unique style.

  9. Another Matthew in Texas

    “They jam someone in who is not the target, scare the hell out of the person, and tell her if she gives them something on the target they’ll give her a break.”

    Are you referring to the defendant or DOJ?

    Replace “we were offered money to kill you” with “we have evidence that you committed a major crime” and then substitute “Pay us a lot of money for your life” with “testify to what we need you to say for your life”

    So easy to get the black and white hats mixed up.

    • Another:
      The DOJ does the jamming and the scaring.

      You pretty much sum it up: the government says “your life or your testimony the way we want it.” The only thing I would say we keep in mind is that the “major crime” the government talks about is usually not one but the sentence threatened makes it seem like one.