CIA deputy director Stephen Kappes profile

One of the chief executives of the extraordinary rendition programme, current deputy director of the CIA, and former senior officer in the CIA’s
former Directorate of Operations
, Stephen Kappes,  is profiled by Jeff Stein here. (H/T Scott Horton) Lots of fascinating details here:

When Obama’s intelligence transition team had visited Langley, it had gotten a pitch from Kappes and other CIA officials to “retain the option of reestablishing secret prisons and using aggressive interrogation methods,” according to an anecdote buried in a Washington Post story.

“It was one of the most deeply disturbing experiences I have had,” David Boren, the moderate Oklahoma Democrat and former Senate Intelligence committee chair who led the transition team, told the Post.

There’s an extraordinary piece of information about how the CIA got to know former high value detainee Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi.

In March 2003, leader Muammar Qaddafi signaled that he was ready to jump-start his on-again, off-again campaign to end his long diplomatic and commercial isolation, get off Washington’s list of terrorist states, and get back into the oil business with the West. Two years earlier, he’d dispatched one of his top operatives, Michigan State–educated Mousa Kousa, to a clandestine meeting in London with top CIA and British intelligence officials. Kousa carried with him the names of some of Osama bin Laden’s closest associates, including Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, a Libyan who would soon be the first major catch in the CIA’s pursuit of al-Qaeda.

Apparently Kappes, as superior of Jeff Castelli – the head of the CIA in Italy at that time – was ‘lacarated’ by a CIA accountability board for the disastrously planned Abu Omar operation.

In the article ex collegues state that Kappes probably stayed ‘miles away’ from dodgy interrogations, but, however, had to know—and approve of—virtually everything that went on in the counterterrorism program after 9/11.

“All decision making in the Directorate of Operations flowed through the ADDO,” or assistant deputy director of operations, the position Kappes held when the war on terror ramped up in 2002–04, says a former top official during that era. “And he was specifically in a position of decision making and influence and persuasion. . . . So any decision or voice he gave to a particular point of view would have been, and was, given great consideration.”

“So if he was opposed to [waterboarding] and made his position known,” the former official adds, “that would have carried great weight. After all, not only was he ADDO, but don’t forget that at the same time he was carrying water for the White House on the Libya stuff and had a personal relationship, he claimed, with the President. So if he was able to do what he did on Libya, he should have been able to persuade the same decision makers with respect to enhanced interrogation techniques if he actually was opposed to them.”

In another revelation to the death of CIA detainee Gul Rahman in the Salt Pit, sources of Stein say that Kappes “helped tailor the agency’s paper trail regarding the death of a detainee”.

According to two former officials who read a CIA inspector general’s report on the incident, Kappes coached the base chief—whose identity is being withheld at the request of the CIA—on how to respond to the agency’s investigators. They would report it as an accident.

“The ADDO’s direction to the field officer anticipated that something worse had occurred and so gave him directions on how to report the situation in his cable,” one of the former officials says.

“The ADDO basically told the officer, ‘Don’t put something in the report that can’t be proved or that you are going to have trouble explaining.’ In essence, the officer was told: Be careful what you put in your cable because the investigators are coming out there and they will pick your cable apart, and any discrepancies will be difficult to explain.”

As a result, the former official says, the Salt Pit officer’s cable was “minimalist in its reporting” on what happened to the prisoner. “It seems to me the ADDO should have been telling him, ‘Report the truth, don’t hold anything back, there’s an investigative team coming out, be honest and forthright. But that was not the message that was given to the chief of base by the ADDO.”

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano calls this account “shot through with errors and falsehoods.” He says, “It’s wrong—and it’s pathetic that someone would make such charges without the courage or decency to do so on the record. The agency’s past detention practices have been thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed, inside and outside the CIA. These greasy insinuations of a coverup are not only utterly off the mark; they’re totally below the belt.”

But the former official stands his ground: “Proof that it is an accurate recitation of the facts is the approach they take to confront it. They vaguely assert it has errors but don’t tell you what the errors are. They deny all aspects of it. Then they attack personally the sources. It’s their modus operandi: Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.

“If they are so certain [of their version], then they should release the report and prove it. They can’t.”

Kappes is a ‘devout Catholic’, and a former commander of the Marine Coprs ‘Silent Drill Platoon’. He joined the CIA in 1981.

One Response

  1. […] deputy, even though Kappes, 59, was known by Obama’s transition team to be an uncompromising advocate of the harsh interrogation and rendition policies that Obama publicly […]

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