Why so few posts yesterday? Because I confirmed that Jonathan Fredman, a former lawyer for the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center that the Senate Armed Services Committee report identified as a key player in the establishment of the Bush administration’s torture apparatus, currently works for Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. Just out from the Washington Independent:
“Jonathan Fredman works at [the Office of the Director of National Intelligence],” said Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the office. Fredman is the subject of a crucial point in the committee’s report, declassified on Tuesday night, which details a 2002 discussion by Fredman of interrogation techniques approved for CIA usage by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel with officials at Guantanamo Bay, after which Guantanamo officials recommended and mostly acquired their usage from the secretary of defense. Minutes from that meeting quoted in the report describe Fredman as saying extreme techniques, like threatening to kill detainees, “should be handled on a case by case basis.”
Fredman, through a CIA spokesman, strenuously denies making such statements, which the spokesman said were a “gross mischaracterization” of his views. The committee just as strenuously backs the account it provided in its report.
Civil libertarians nevertheless expressed alarm. “If you really want to end torture, as Obama says he does, he has to get officials who were deeply involved in the torture program from the federal government,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
As you’ll see in the piece, Fredman insists that the basis for the committee’s determination of what he did — the minutes of a crucial October 2, 2002 meeting at Guantanamo Bay – is incorrect, but the committee says Fredman doesn’t challenge the central facts in that account. ODNI didn’t make Fredman available to me, nor would either it or the Senate panel (or back channels) provide me with a document Fredman wrote defending himself. (I ended up filing a FOIA request for it.) So the piece can be fairly criticized for that, but I tried my best to run the issue down.