Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Graham corroborates Pelosi: they were not informed

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Interesting post by Marcy Wheeler:

FWIW, Greg Sargent’s account of his interview with Bob Graham seems to suggest Graham may have gotten even less in his briefing on torture than Nancy Pelosi did in September 2002.

“I do not have any recollection of being briefed on waterboarding or other forms of extraordinary interrogation techniques, or Abu Zubaydah being subjected to them,” Graham told me by phone moments ago, in a reference to the terror suspect who had been repeatedly waterboarded the month before.

Graham is the only other Dem aside from Pelosi to get briefed in 2002, so they are both in effect asserting that no Dem was briefed on the use of EITs that year. The date of the next briefing was in February 2003.

Graham claimed he would have remembered if he’d been told about the use of torture. “Something as unexpected and dramatic as that would be the kind of thing that you would normally expect to recall even years later,” he said.

[snip]

Graham denied being told about EITs, and argued that the presence of two staff members at the meeting (as indicated in the records) would have made it “highly unusual” for the briefers to divulge such sensitive info. “I don’t recall having had one of those kinds of briefings with staff present,” he said. “That would defeat the purpose of keeping a tight hold” on the info.

Graham, however, was circumspect on what was actually discussed, saying only that “the general topic had to do with detainee interrogations” but didn’t include any reference to EITs or waterboarding.

Click through to see the account of a US Official (remember–the torture briefing list came via the Director of National Intelligence office from the CIA) saying only that CIA records say Graham was briefed on torture. Right. Yes. We know CIA is not vouching for the accuracy of those documents.

Pelosi has said, a variety of times, that the opinions approving some interrogation techniques were discussed, but that they weren’t told the techniques were going to be used or–much more importantly–had been used.  [Update: here’s the statement her spokesperson Brendan Daly put out last week: "As this document shows, the Speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002.  The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used."] Or to put it very simply for those who still don’t get this, Pelosi has been saying that CIA briefed them on the legality of using torture, but did not admit (and may have specifically denied) that they had used these torture techniques. Pelosi is making a temporal claim as much as anything else.

But Graham is making a much more expansive claim, saying techniques were not discussed in the least.

Now, I can think of two explanations for that (aside from either forgetfulness or deception on one or both of their parts): that Pelosi is remembering learning (according to a confidant) about the waterboarding in February 2003, and her statements reflect that. Or that the Senate intel leaders (Graham and Shelby) really did get a less extensive briefing than the House intel leaders (Goss and Pelosi) in 2002.

And I can think of two reasons for the latter scenario–the Senate getting less of a briefing than the House…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 May 2009 at 2:58 pm

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