Intelligence Official Explains Graham Briefing Story; Panetta Gives CIA a Pep Talk

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I keep trying to get confirmation of what former Sen. Bob Graham has been been saying about the CIA keeping erroneous records of what it told Congress in 2002 about “enhanced interrogation” techniques. A U.S. intelligence official familiar with the briefings — and who requested that attribution — explained Graham’s charges like this:

The Agency conducted a thorough and conservative review of its files, and we were in close contact with Senator Graham as we did so. What we told Sen. Graham was that our records show he was briefed once on enhanced interrogation techniques in September 2002. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t briefed on other occasions on detainee interrogations. The briefing chart provided to Congress last week focused solely on briefings during which enhanced interrogation techniques were discussed–not on other briefings related to the interrogation program.

According to this explanation, Graham is confused about what the CIA actually was telling him about what they had briefed him on. Apparently, according to this official, there have briefings for him and others about other aspects of interrogations that didn’t involve discussing “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Graham, though, has said he has no documentation for three briefings that CIA told him it held for him in 2002 — two in April and one of September.

Additionally, Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, sent out the following message to CIA employees earlier this afternoon, the first such message after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the agency of “misleading” Congress about what it told intelligence overseers on torture in 2002 and 2003. It’s called “Turning Down The Volume.” Text after the jump.

There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I’m gone. But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.

My advice — indeed, my direction — to you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.

We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication. Our task is to tell it like it is—even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.

In other words, don’t pay attention to Pelosi; don’t mislead Congress; and get — that — dirt off your shoulder. Notice Panetta is saying that CIA briefed “truthfully” in 2002 on what interrogation techniques “had been employed” on Abu Zubaydah but it’s still “up to Congress” about whether those briefings were, in fact, truthful. If Congress determines such briefings were untruthful, though, will Panetta accept criminal penalties for an act that would violate “our laws and our values”?

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Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 11:56 am

The problem for Panetta of course is that he wasn't around in 2002 and so he has no clue what they were directed to do back then. I understand that he is trying to get his weight up in the agency since he is an outsider but he is getting dangerously close to the line of attaching his own credibility to facts not in evidence. The CIA's own records don't show that Pelosi was specifically briefed on waterboarding in 2002 so he has no authority to say she was. And if she wasn't then she was misled. Its real simple, call Panetta's office and ask them point blank if Pelosi was briefed on Zubaydah having been waterboarded in 2002. Don't accept the stock “she was briefed on what he had been employed”. Put them on the spot and make them attest to whether or not she was briefed on the waterboarding having been used. A yes or no question with no equivocation. When they refuse to do it you will have all the evidence you need.

Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

Oh and one more thing Ackerman, according to Bob Graham, even in the one instance where the CIA is now saying he was briefed on the use of EITs he is saying they didn't brief him on that. So they still didn't respond to that charge that they got it wrong with him as well. And Richard Shelby's statement today fell far short of endorsing the CIA's version because it didn't say that he was briefed on EITs that had been used either.…

Jeff in Miami
Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

I think Panetta should be saying that the CIA is now in serious trouble. First with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and now with Pelosi calling them liars along with a Graham. Now where are the real minutes to these meetings? I would trust a used car sales person over Pelosi or Graham.

I know if I worked at the CIA, my resume would be all over the place to get out of there. It is going to be a good year for Military Intel, they will end up hiring many of the people that leave and corporations will pick up the rest. They really do have a unique skill set.

Lori Boone
Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

Who decides whether or not the determination of the briefings by this Congress are truthful and rational?
The current politics are so dirty and the balance of power is so unequitable that I do not trust any of the decisions that are made by them. No actions from the liberal Democratic party, in at least the past 8 years, have been noble. Decisions have not been made for the good of the American people. The country has been manipulated, punctured and lacerated by a party so eager to “get back the White House” (like it was their's) and regain control of Congress that all honor and any ethical behavior has been trashed. I don't believe there is an ounce of integrity in Pelosi's body; I think it was lost in the filthy politics she and her fellow political allies have played for so long that they don't even know what honesty is…
As for Leon Panetta? Hip hip Hooray for his integrity. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney was right-on about him. He is a true-blood, decent human being. Though he is not responsible, he might lay down for the injustices that roll down his way and save others if possible. I like his style!

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Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

thank you

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Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

thank you

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