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CIA Responds to Obey: Briefing Accounts Are ‘Not Transcripts And Recordings’

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) wrote to CIA Director Leon Panetta yesterday to claim an inaccuracy in the CIA’s list of briefings held for members of Congress on the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Specifically, Obey said that a House Appropriations Committee aide named Paul Juola never attended a Sept. 19, 2006 briefing that the CIA briefing chart listed him as attending. And while a CIA official didn’t back away from the claim, he appeared to concede that the agency’s briefing account is far from an authoritative summary of what Congress knew about torture and when it knew it. Here’s a statement to me from CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano:

“While CIA’s information has Mr. Juola attending briefings on September 19, 2006 and October 11, 2007, there are different recollections of these events, which Mr. Obey’s letter describes. As the agency has pointed out more than once, its list — compiled in response to congressional requests — reflects the records it has. These are notes, memos, and recollections, not transcripts and recordings.”

That would appear to dovetail with Panetta’s repeated insistence that “it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.” The agency isn’t claiming that its account is a full one. Nor is it attempting to adjudicate disputes over its briefing chart.

Kevin Drum is bewildered by the CIA’s apparently substandard notetaking skills. Zachary Roth at TPMmuckraker, though, talks to an anonymous former intelligence professional who thinks his former colleagues were “disingenuous” by trying to “make it appear that the use of such techniques was part of a ‘formal and mechanical program’.” Cue the outrage.

*TWI is on Twitter. Please follow us here. *

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