Bob Graham: It Was OCA, with the Briefing, in the Hart Senate Building

Bob Graham was just on CSPAN’s Washington Journal. He raised two more potential problems with the CIA’s account of its briefings on torture.

First, he said Stan Moskowitz, from the CIA’s Office of Congressional Affairs, conducted the briefing.  Yet the CIA says that people from the CounterTerrorism Center conducted the briefing. As I have suggested, that might mean that Jose Rodriguez, then head of CTC, conducted the briefing; Rodriguez is the guy who later ordered the destruction of the torture tapes. Or it might mean that Jonathan Fredman, the guy who once said "If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong," and then-Counsel for CTC, did the briefing. But Graham was absolutely unequivocal that-based on his famously anal notes, Moskowitz did the briefing.

Now, this may not be a real discrepancy. Maybe people from CTC attended the briefing and Moskowitz led it. I’ll try to get some clarification on this question. One place we can’t get clarification on the briefing, though, is from Moskowitz himself; he passed away in 2006. 

But Graham’s other point was clearly damning. He said the briefing occurred in the Hart Senate Office Building and not–as happened with highly classified briefings–at the White House. That detail, plus Graham’s earlier observation that staffers attended the briefing, suggest the briefing was not treated as typical "Gang of Four" or "Gang of Eight" briefings were generally treated. 

Boy, Bob Graham, with his notoriously detailed notes, is just killing the CIA’s credibility on these briefings.

139 replies
    • perris says:

      marcy is more prolific with groundbreaking journalism then robert moses was with municiple constrcution

  1. Diane says:

    Seems like Pelosi & Graham should get together for a press conf. I’m really wondering if this is a strategy to get the R’s to agree with a truth commission, or if the Speaker flubbed the politics of this situation.

    • perris says:

      they repubics strategy of attacking pelosi was JUST what the doctor ordered for US to get inquiry

      nice stuff going on right now

    • Leen says:

      Andrew Sullivan brought this up on Chris Matthews yesterday. “where are the conservatives”

      • ChuckinDenton says:

        Good question re: conservatives…Seems like law and order situation which they had no trouble ‘enforcing’ during MonicaGate. Who Would Jesus Torture?

  2. marksb says:

    Oh God, yesterday it was Victoria by the Kinks.
    Now you’ve got bad 80’s music in my head:

    lies lies lies yeah
    lies lies lies yeah
    lies lies lies yeah
    do i have to catch you out
    to know what’s on your mind

    And Diane, good point. The Speaker flubbed this. Imagine Obama in the same situation: “Folks are saying I was briefed and I didn’t say anything in protest. Well that’s just a shiny object to redirect your attention from the fact that our government, the leaders of our government, demanded, approved, and conducted torture in the name of the American people. Now they can point their fingers at Congress all they want about this or that technicality, but the shame and responsibility of violating international and US law, of conducting torture and maybe murder, is on their hands alone, and we need to get to the bottom of this mess.”

  3. Leen says:

    Thanks EW. Thank goodness Graham is such a note taker and record keeper.

    bringing the debate back to who rewrote the laws, who ordered them to be used.

    Think you would be interested in what Andrew Sullivan had to say about Cheney on The Chris Matthew show on Sunday


    • NelsonAlgren says:

      It sure is paying off in this case that Graham was dubbed “the most anal retentive man in DC”. Besides, if Hillary had listened to him, she’d be President right now.

  4. Diane says:

    I’m absolving Pelosi of the deer in the headlights Q&A (blaming it on her trip to Iraq) other than that, I believe the R’s are playing right into her hands.

  5. radiofreewill says:

    Wouldn’t it be something if Pelosi got her own summation notes from the 9/4/02 Briefing De-Classified, and they said:

    “These ‘techniques’ they are talking about – that they say are Legal but haven’t used, yet – like Waterboarding – sound like Statutory Torture to me – but I Can’t Conduct Oversight on Them, or check them out, or tell anyone, because I’ve been Sworn to Secrecy.”

    Something along the lines of: I see what looks to be a Crime, but Bush says it’s Legal, and he won’t let me Investigate or Report it, because it’s part of his War Effort against Terror.

    Then, it’s only One Small Step to: Bush told me I couldn’t Impeach him, either – he said it was Disloyalty, Treason even to contemplate ‘limiting’ the President/CIC in a time of War – he said he would Suspend Congress and Declare Martial Law.

    It may sound implausible, at the moment, but not out of the question for Bush the Batterer…

    • perris says:

      “These ‘techniques’ they are talking about – that they say are Legal but haven’t used, yet – like Waterboarding – sound like Statutory Torture to me – but I Can’t Conduct Oversight on Them, or check them out, or tell anyone, because I’ve been Sworn to Secrecy.”

      in fact that’s exactly the case, she was told these techniques were legally approved, she was not allowed to investigate that statement

      nor was she told there was decent, nor was she told the person who “legally approved” the “techniques” was a depraved fascist in on the fix

  6. pretzel says:

    Maybe I’m way off base but is it possible that there were separate briefings, one for Repub’s and a separate one for the Dem’s?

    Were there non-disclosure issues raised with these briefings?

    Do we know if all the “Gang of 8″ were briefed together?

    • sojourner says:

      We had some previous discussion about this issue, and, as I recall, there is some evidence pointing to separate (and possibly different) briefings for Republicans and Democrats. Much of the current hoo-hah is proving up this point.

      I know, I know… Marcy is so fast that it is like drinking from a fire hose (smile).

    • Mary says:

      The CIA’s own schedule reveals that Rockefeller was definitely not briefed with his Republican counterpart.

      Initially, there was NO BRIEFING OF THE GANG OF 8 at all. Instead, there was purportedly some made up “gang of 4″ briefing, that now from the schedule appears to have been a gang of 4 plus staffers, plus now and then a John McCain character emerging, etc. This is why the questions on Presidential findings are pretty important.

      If there was one and this was a covert activity by the CIA’s reckoning, then they were violating the National Sec Act by not including the Party leaders in the House and Senate. And that finding would have important date information.

      If there was not one, under the guise of this not being a covert activity, then under the NSA the full committees should have been briefed and there was no legal authority to limit to even the Gang of 8, much less the made up gang of 4, or to start including party leaders while excluding the intel committees.

      So either way, there was an NSA violation and the members of Congress need to start, IMO getting questions that go to framing that. Were you told it was covert, were you given a finding, why didn’t they brief the full Gang of 8; or if you didn’t get a finding, why didn’t they brief the full committees as required by the NSA and when they did brief the full committees as per the NSA, what did the Presidential statement required by the NSA at the time of such later breifing say about the reasons for failure to fully advise the committees at an earlier point in time?

      Was the President claiming covert activity or not, a finding or not, and what was the reason given for which part of the NSA that the President would have been agreeing he and the DCI/DNI violated? Or was this requirement of the NSA, for the statement, also violated?

      • emptywheel says:

        Wait. No it doesn’t. It says the two Senators were briefed, together, on September 27 (just after your favorite field trip), and the two Reps were briefed on September 4. Goss’ and Pelosi’s stories seem largely consistent, which makes it even more likely they were briefed together.

        • Mary says:

          The two Senators briefed together in Sept 2002 were Graham and Shelby (per the CIA statement, which Graham pretty much rips) But I looked at the question I was responding to as a general question about, where Republicans and Democrats briefed together, and so I was pointing out that the CIA’s own schedule indicates at least one separate briefing, specifically the Rockefeller situation in Feb 03 where CIA claims a “later individual briefing to Rockefeller.”

          So I think my statement which was about Rockefeller (not Graham) is correct, although I think your point is that for the topic of your post, the CIA is not saying that Graham and Shelby were briefed separately nor are they (the Senators) saying that, so there’s nothing to indicate that briefing would have been separate and if they did take Shelby aside to say something more to him, neither he nor the CIA are anteing up on that.

        • emptywheel says:

          Apologies–the “initially” confused me. Jello Jay was briefed separately once, and there were a series of Republican-only briefings in 2005 and a few Dem only ones (including a Harman-only one) in 2006 and later.

        • Mary says:

          Yeah, the initially on my Gang of 8 reference probably didn’t need to be there, bc it seems as if there is never really a place where they “catch up” on any Gang of 8 reference.
          Never mention briefing Hastert when he was Speaker (gosh, they avoided him like he was a security risk or pedophile enabler or something, wonder why that?)
          Never mention briefing Delay (gosh, they avoided him like he was under investigation for money laundering or something, wonder why?)
          Never mention briefing Boehner (gosh, they avoided him like he’s the kind of guy who would go out and start blabbing about the details of classified FISA Ct rulings to on the record new sources without care for classification rules or something, wonder why?)

          Briefings to Frist but not Reid in 05. Then the capitulation was to go to full committee briefings but never really have any one point in time where they could claim, based on their schedule, a Gang of 8 briefing within any 6-12 month period’s worth of briefings including the full Gang of 8.

          But they are listing staffers – that’s just odd. I have to wonder about ulterior motives.

      • dmac says:

        i recall recently, before it all blew up, more than one of them (2-3)saying to reporters –they were briefed in ‘two;s’ (maybe claimed due to schedules?)and so would have to get back about it..after consulting their notes and each other about the dates…then it all blew up. then nothing. chirp.

        guess they were told to not do that. was at least one republican and one democrat. didn’t count them after i heard it.

        cant find the links. was video, not print.

  7. Mary says:


    I’ve been wondering about the inclusion of the staffers though. Not just from the gang of 4/8/5.7+random staffers/ etc. aspect, but from the aspect of why they were going to claim the briefings took place at briefings with staffers at all. That certainly sets up a situation for more he saids/she saids and also where people are going to want to (human nature) check in with their ex-staffer/ally to confirm recollections. So it almost seemed like eitehr some bait to try to encourage that or that perhaps the CIA knew that the staffers might not fully line up along the party lines. Makes you wonder a bit when they release something that on its face raises the questions about staffers even being present.

    In any event, I’m going to toss this out here and email it to Marshall and a few others too. It seems to me that some of the unasked questions so far would help change the conversation some, and that it would be nice to see the Reps have to answer questions that don’t give them ez escape routes.

    So to that end, here are some questions that I think it would be nice to start shoving at Goss and Shelby re: old times and Boehner and Hoekstra re: newer times.

    Hoekstra: Do your recent statements expressing certainty over the CIA’s veracity to Congress mean that you have decided to abandon any further investigations of the CIA role in shooting down civilian planes, including the plane that carried an American missionary and his family and resulted in deaths in his family? Are you now convinced that the CIA was fully candid and truthful with you in those investigations?

    Goss, Shelby (Pelosi & Graham, but we know what Graham’s answer will be already): In very dramatic hearing before Congress and in an opinion piece, Ali Soufan, an Arabic speaking FBI agent who had specialized for years on al-Qaeda operations, has stated that he when the CIA began it’s abusive interrogation program with Abu Zubaydah he was forced to withdraw and by June the FBI was withdrawing all its experienced al-Qaeda personnel from questioning where the CIA tactics were being used. The NYT reports that the CIA replaced Soufan with an agent who could not speak Arabic and had not had any pre-9/11 history of working on al-Qaeda. Soufan has testified the CIA interrogationw as being done under the auspices of a contractor who also had no al-Qaeda background and who had no experience with conducting interrogations.

    Were you told in your EIT briefings by the CIA that the FBI had been barred by Dir. Mueller from participation and if not, can you explain why you would not have been briefed on that?

    Were you told in your EIT briefings that because of the EIT experiment, the search for Bin Laden was being done based on interrogations by non-Arabic speakers with no Bin Laden or al-Qaeda background?

    Do you think that the failure to capture Bin Laden might be related to the fact that interrogations excluded the FBI resources and relied upon interrogations by those who were not trained as interrogators, did not speak the language and did not have prior al-Qaeda background?

    When did you first become aware that the FBI was barred from participation in the interrogations?

    In your briefing on EITs in September, were you advised that a CIA investigation into GITMO culminated in a report in August of 2002 that a large number of the those held at GITMO were innocent and the reason that the joint task force was not successful in getting good intelligence from them was that they had nothing to give?

    If you were not advised of that CIA report in your Sept briefings, were you ever advised of it or did anyone ever mention it to you and if so, when did it come to your attention?

    Were you concerned to learn that the CIA report indicated that we were holding innocent people at GITMO and subjecting them to Joint Task Force interrogations under non-Geneva compliant standards, and if so, what steps did you take?

    When you were briefed on EITs, who were you told they could be used on? Did you ask?

    In your September briefings or at any time subsequent, were you briefed on the FBI’s concerns that Zubaydah was not actually an operational officer of al-Qaeda and that he was mentally ill? If you were never briefed on this, has it otherwise come to your attention? If you were not briefed on this, do you believe that the CIA should have provided that information to you?

    As a result of your September briefing, with staffers, did you discuss the briefing with the Intellingence Committee? If not, why not?

    If you were told that the briefing could not be further disseminated to the committees, under the National Security Act such a restriction would have required that the activities by covert activities and be supported by a Presidential finding. Were they a) covert and b) supported by a Presidential finding. If they were not covert activities as defined by the NSA, why would dissemination have been restricted? If they were, was there a Presidential finding and if so, when was it issued? Did it authorize the use of the EITs at a time predating your Sept briefing? By how much?


    Those are a few quickies and there’s not much chance of much response, but I’d sure like to see anyone (from bloggers to reporters) who has a shot at getting an answer start pushing on some of these items to get them into the conversation too. I’d say that, even thought it might be self serving, Pelosi’s office, for example, might respond to a question even if it comes from the blogosphere, on whether or not she was advised that FBI interrogators who spoke the language of the detainees and were experienced al-Qaeda investigators were barraed from interrogating high value detainees because of the EIT program and were replaced with interrogators who did not speak the detainee’s language and had no prior al-Qaeda investigation experience. Alghough at this point she’s kind of handled things in a way that sends her running for the hills more – still, it’s something that either Goss et al have to agree with or, if they disagree, suddenly their story is much less prettified.

    • Mary says:

      And then there’s always:

      Did the briefing on EITs discuss the use of EITs on al-Libi? When were you briefed by the CIA on the false intelligence obtained from al-Libi about al-Qaeda training camps in Iraq? Were you briefed that this intelligence came from application of EITs?

      Were you briefed on the turnover of al-Libi to Egypt and if so, why were you told why he was turned over? If al-Libi had intelligence directly tieing al-Qaeda to Iraq, do you think that it would have been a good idea to hand him over to another country?

      Were you told of the live burial technique that was reportedly used in Egypt to interrogate al-Libi? If not, do you think that the CIA should have advised you that the intelligence they were giving you and later the nation and world in the Powell briefing to the UN came as a result of such interrogation techniques?

      Were you ever briefed on why al-Libi, whose statements were used in the UN presentation and who was reportedly tortured in connection with those statements, was not sent to GITMO with the other high value detainees? Did you agree with the decision to instead disappear him to Libya? Or if you were not advised fo the decision do you believe that you should have been notified? Was Libya asked to make al-Libi available for Congressional investigations or further US questioning? Were you ever briefed on, or had conversations about, whether al-Libi was actually a highly ranking operations officer of al-Qaeda?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Do you think that the failure to capture Bin Laden might be related to the fact that interrogations excluded the FBI resources and relied upon interrogations by those who were not trained as interrogators, did not speak the language and did not have prior al-Qaeda background?

      I got a lump of sadness in my throat when I read this paragraph. FWIW.

      8 years and no bin Laden?
      And Cheney and Bush ‘made us safe’?
      This is insanity.

      • Mary says:

        I get that same lump, lots of times. Creeps up on me at stoplights when my mind is kind of blank and there’s a place for it to come in.

        I just wonder why it’s almost never asked. And if we had caught Bin Laden, for that matter, with the torture confessions approach, would we have ever learned anything more, or only racked up another piece of “evidence” that we had to go to war with Iraq – this one a Bin Laden confession to plotting with Iraq?

        • plunger says:

          There is no “Bin Laden.” He does not exist. Don’t believe the propaganda – and don’t conflate the actions on 9/11 with the actor/asset named “Bin Laden.” They are unrelated, but for the official conspiracy theory, which cannot possibly have transpired. 2 planes hit 2 buildings in Manhattan, yet three buildings fell down. Do the math. The missing plane that was supposed to strike WTC 7 was shot down by a missile (according to Rumsfeld) in a field in Pennsylvania.

          A first time pilot with virtually no flight skills whatsoever flew across the country, located the Pentagon and conducted a perfect corkscrew descent directly above the most heavily fortified building in the world, as VP Cheney watched from the bunker for the final 50 miles (as witnessed by one Norm Mineta), and executed a direct hit on the Pentagon just six feet off the deck. No satellite imagery of this event exists.

          Karen Kwiatkowski, one of the first on scene, smelled cordite (high explosives). No luggage, seats or bodies were recovered.

          Consult: Occam’s Razor.

      • ghostof911 says:

        The label of insanity might also be applied to the unquestioning belief in the goverment-supplied fairy tale about Osama and his gang of box-cutter wielding seekers of virgins in paradise.

  8. cbl2 says:

    has anyone in the Corp Media mentioned Senator Graham ?!?!?

    I don’t watch the sunday shows

  9. Citizen92 says:

    About Bob Graham’s diaries:

    St. Petersburg Times, Feb, 2003 “Dress in a gray suit, discuss CIA, mingle”

    Graham does not keep classified material in the notebooks. During the intelligence hearings, he took his classified notes on a separate pad of paper that is stored in the committee’s vaultlike office.

    So who, pray tell, has Bob Graham’s classified notebooks now (since presumably he couldn’t take them with him)?

    And who, pray tell, was keeping track of Graham’s classified notebooks, in the Committee’s “vaultlike office” when it was the GOP who was running that office?

  10. sbvpav says:

    the machiavellian “we pander to your fears, prejudices and ignorance” gop may think they can steamroll pelosi but graham is a different matter – this dude has serious cred’s and they know it. we have had the church commission and investigated iran/contra and no less an arch conservative, goldwater, had accused the cia of lying to him while chairman of the senate intelligence committee.

    • fatster says:

      I just motored over here to post that, Mary. Please let us know the nitty gritty legal stuff about it once available. Many thnx.

    • bmaz says:

      It is a weird decision; not quite sure what the point was other than bailing out Ashcroft and Mueller. It doesn’t add much to existing law other than telling Bivens plaintiffs similarly situated they must be specific in their original pleading. That rates a big “Duh”.…..7-1015.pdf

      • Mary says:

        Thanks – I’ll read this tonight. I remember a bit about the case at the Dist level but not from appellate on.

  11. esaud says:

    Marcy – great stuff.

    I only yesterday read through lots of your old posts, and I found the Porter Goss angle (i.e. it supports Pelosi’s claim that she was not told it HAD been used, but was in development) interesting.

    Also reading Goss’s op-ed, it struck me how “artful” (i.e. misleading) he is in trying to hint that Pelosi was told about waterboarding. Notice how he switches it to the Gang of Four were told, which is technically true, according to the list of briefings. But there were three separate brifings, the description of two do not match and no mention of the separate Rockefeller briefing.

    Porter Goss is one slippery dude, and everything he says should be doubly parsed for misleading content.

    In any event, that there was such a media storm over the briefing list was truly extrodinary. To me an honest reported would have described it as woefully inadequate as record keeping and as oversight. In fact, given that we know that the tapes were destroyed, it leads me to suspect that other documents may have been destroyed, too.

    • Hugh says:

      Porter Goss is one slippery dude, and everything he says should be doubly parsed for misleading content.

      The thing to remember about Goss is that he left Congress to head the CIA, that he was such a god awful director there that even the worst President in our history thought he was incompetent, and so he left under one of the those weak, covers everything excuses that he wanted to spend more time with his family. No one should believe anything Goss has to say about anything.

  12. wigwam says:

    If Panetta has any spine at all, heads should roll at the upper-levels of the CIA. Visibly they fed him fabricated meeting notes, which he dutifully pedaled to the American public. No manager can tolerate that sort of insubordination.

    And, if Panetta doesn’t lop off a few heads, the White House should call for his resignation.

  13. Diane says:

    Marcy, just saw your article in Salon (it’s been linked to through Kos) & will read in full during lunch, just wanted to offer my congrats on the recognition you’ve received for your outstanding work. You’ve been a hero to us Plameiacs for years.

  14. foothillsmike says:

    Bob Graham completely supports what Pelosi is saying regarding not being told that the CIA had been waterboarding. If one looks at the schedule of briefings that was released by the CIA it has the identical description of what was discussed in both of the briefings – that of Pelosi and that of Graham.

  15. Hugh says:

    The really rich irony in all this is that Dick Cheney never trusted the CIA because he saw them as a bunch of pikers with attitude. It’s probably the one thing he was right about although for all the wrong reasons.

    As for what Nancy Pelosi did or did not know or what the CIA told her and others, the simple story is that the CIA wasn’t straight with Congress, everyone in Congress, whether they were on an intelligence committee or not, knew this and none of them did anything about it then or really up to the present time.

  16. cinnamonape says:

    Marcy~ You might (snicker) call Shelby’s office and ask if it was Moskowitz or Rodriguez who led the briefing, and if the other was simply there giving advice.

    Furthermore, you might ask Shelby about his formal statement:

    “As Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2002, Senator Shelby was briefed by the CIA on the Agency’s interrogation program and the existence of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs). To his recollection, not only did the CIA briefers provide what was purported to be a full account of the techniques, they also described the need for these techniques and the value of the information being obtained from terrorists during questioning. The Senate briefing also included an explanation of how these techniques were consistent with the law and with the national security interests of the U.S. To his recollection, while there was a great deal of discussion, there were no objections raised during the Senate briefing he attended.”

    You might ask why he used the term “purported”? Does he now know that the account was not, in fact, a full account? Why doesn’t he specifically say he was briefed on the use of water boarding? That it had already been used before Congress had been briefed? If he was NOT told then wouldn’t he assume that there was good information coming from the detainees without water boarding? Ask him if he was informed about the quality of information before and after the EITs, and specifically waterboarding, had been applied.

    Also inquire if the depictions in the media of water boarding as practiced by Jessen and Mitchell was the same as described by the CIA briefers? Or were the details of the waterboarding described at all?

    Give him lots of opportunity to hang himself.

  17. Arbusto says:

    I didn’t know the Congressional briefing for the full committee or Go8 were held at the White House. At the least a FOIA request would go to settling who attended what and when?

    • Nell says:

      Only in the WH for most highly classified briefings, when I would certainly not expect there to be committee staff present. Also, if group of eight or four, and at WH, then production of presidential finding and presidential letter justifying limited briefing would be natural.

      If taking place on the Hill, with staffers present, then why the hell did any of them let the CIA get away with only limited briefings vs. full committee? This makes the Shelby “leak” look even more like a set-up to intimidate Sens and Reps into not challenging the limited briefing, or even demanding to see the presidential finding and letter.

      • DWBartoo says:

        It is rather amazing (or not …) that Congress (apparently) sees nothing wrong with this ’set-up’.

        It is almost as if Congress would rather NOT make ‘waves’ in the wading pool … it might be too much like actual work. After mastering the Hollywood wave, any other ‘waves’ must be beneath their dignity (or something).

        All it takes is a ‘clever’ executive, a couple of ’smart’ lawyers and Congress is stymied.

        Looks like a wee tiny ‘weak’ point in this, the best of all possible political ’systems’. But then, I’m probably just missing its greater majesty (or something).

      • cinnamonape says:

        WH records should be available for these dates to see just who the Secret Service cleared for entry. That would clarify if there were separate briefings for Democrats and Republicans and if staff were accompanying the Congressmembers. It might not reveal if they actually sat in on the briefing, but I doubt they went to twiddle their thumbs.

        • Nell says:

          Good point, except that it sounds to me as if what briefings there were took place on the Hill, and way short of the requirements of the National Security Act thanks to, among other things, intimidation by Cheney after the Shelby leak (which looks increasinly fishy).

  18. joanneleon says:

    Staffers attended these briefings.

    That still surprises me. Do they have that kind of clearance? Do they take oaths?

    Briefings as top secret as these, and there were staffers there. All along we’ve gotten the impression that these were super duper top secret this tape will self-destruct type briefings, and nothing could be disclosed, etc.

    Just seems strange.

    Awesome, Marcy, for zeroing in on Graham a long time ago, wondering why he’d been so quiet and remembering how he is a detailed note taker. Let the information drip, drip, drip out. Gushing would be great too.

    • Hugh says:

      Briefings as top secret as these, and there were staffers there. All along we’ve gotten the impression that these were super duper top secret this tape will self-destruct type briefings, and nothing could be disclosed, etc.

      I agree this is jarring. Other members of the intelligence committees (or of the armed services committees for that matter0 could not be briefed but staffers could be? What gives?

    • cinnamonape says:

      Graham has specifically stated that aides would not be present if highly classified material were discussed. That was specifically what set off the “red light” for him when he heard the claims that they were fully briefed on the EITs. That was so odd to him that he sought out his notebooks. While Graham has not specifically discussed what WAS discussed in the meeting, he is quite clear that water boarding, in particular, and information acquired through EITs were NOT discussed.

      I’d imagine that the aides have fairly high security clearances, but not so high as to allow them direct access to knowledge of ongoing covert operations or highly classified intelligence.

      That may be why the material that the aide to Harman…passing on the information to Pelosi in 2003…might have been so problematical.The aide likely obtained it through a conversation with Harman, and then, when he became Pelosi’s staffer passed it to her. That “leak” would have widespread consequences.

    • skdadl says:

      Well, we need a little comic relief about now, don’t we?

      I was just sitting here wondering whether Mary was going to come back with a reading from the news @ 16 about how it might affect, eg, Arar, and the Canadian case that pops up next is … Conrad Black? Gee, I can give them a longer queue of more urgently deserving people.

      Do Fitz and his team get any say in what is argued before the Supremes re Black?

    • Funnydiva2002 says:

      Oh, nice two-fer with the “nah, you can’t sue Ashcroft and Mueller”.
      C’mon, Soops! There’s gotta be one more for a “Justice Not for The Little People” trifecta!
      Funny Wheelie Diva

  19. Leen says:

    Chris Matthews ” the empire strikes back” “is Dick Cheney now bossing the Democrats”
    “out of office big shot”
    “Is there a Cheney effect”

    Howard Fineman: “I think so” “hurt Obama there by making the country safer

    Savannah Guthrie: “anytime we are talking about Dick Cheney people in the White House are delighted”

    Andrew Sullivan “he’s afraid he is very afraid. That’s why he’s doing this, there is no other reason for this”

    Matthews: “He’s afraid he’s going to be nailed on torture”

    Andrew Sullivan: “He authorized and we now know this the torture of human beings. We know this from the Red Cross, we know this from Office of Legal Council memos, we know this from the Senate Armed Service Committee report. We know the policies that he enforced and pioneered and insisted on led to the torture of hundreds..thousands of human beings. Now those are WAR CRIMES.
    If the government if the government has the power to torture evidence (mistake I believe). Where are CONSERVATIVES ON THIS? Where are conservatives who believe in restraining executive power and the danger of torturing”

    ANDREW SULLIVAN RIPPED THROUGH THE BULLSHIT..Where are the CONSERVATIVES ON THIS? Sullivan brings up what Soufan has said

    Michelle Norris “Legacy”


  20. 1boringoldman says:

    What the briefers didn’t say: “We are waterboarding prisoners several times a day to get them to declare that Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq were working together to plan the 9/11 attack on New York. Any questions?”

  21. Nell says:

    The other issue is separate Dem and Republican briefings. In early Sept 2002 there still might have been some inability on part of Dems to believe that admin would play politics with security as much as they were doing.

    I’d have thought that by February 2003 enough bad faith would have been on clear display for Ds to refuse briefings unless done together with Rs. But on the other hand, the invasion had yet to officially begin at that point (it was UN presentation day). And it actually took most of these people until deep into 2003 to understand how badly they and the country had been played: the lack of weapons being found, the Wilson op-ed, the Plame outing, the resistance at full tilt after August 2003…

  22. Nell says:

    Criminey, aren’t there any reporters on the intel or Congressional beat experienced enough to know what the briefing process is supposed to be, or curious enough to look it up and ask around? Or do they not want to admit that they’re so used to partisan he-said/she-said that they haven’t thought through a process or policy issue in the last decade?

    Gaaaaaaahhhh. These questions should have been asked last week; by now it’s just a pathetic display.

  23. Leen says:

    Matthews: “Nancy Pelosi’s performance”
    “more or less likely that we’re going to have a truth commission”

    Sullivan: “a collective failure” not enough said ‘what is going on”

    Matthews: Is Obama being “pushed towards a commission”

    Matthews: Cheney “not taking his 19% approval rating and going home”
    ” now he keeps making it very clear he ain’t gettin off the stage”

    Then Matthews compares Cheney to Glenn Close in Fatal Attractions
    Howard Fineman: “I don’t think he’s going to boil the rabbit”

    Still can not find a mention of Graham’s notes (thought there had been)

    the comparison between Cheney and Glenn Close in Fatal Attractions ..insightful
    “I am not going away”

    No mention of Graham’s notes during the show (thought there had been)

  24. fatster says:

    12 Bush lawyers face disbarment complaints

Published: May 18, 2009 
Updated 4 hours ago

    “A liberal activist group has filed disciplinary complaints in four states and the District of Columbia calling for the disbarment of twelve lawyers they say are associated with the Bush administration’s position on torture.

    “The complaints are posted online at

    “The complaints were filed against former White House Legal Counsel attorneys John Yoo, Jay Bybee (pictured above right) and Stephen Bradbury; former Attorney Generals Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney David Addington, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith and Timothy Flanigan with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania.”…..disbarred/

  25. WilliamOckham says:

    When is somebody going to notice how crappy this so-called briefing list really is? Here’s a question:

    How many briefings did Hayden (then DCIA) give on Sept. 6, 2006? Who attended and what was discussed?

    Hint: check out items 19-23 in the briefing list.

    Now, tell me why we give this document any credence at all?

  26. freepatriot says:

    A feature Article in Salon ???

    damn, people are startin to catch on about My Muse

    Now I’m gonna have to start lookin ahead of the curve, an find me another “beyond the cutting edge” commentor to worship

    sorry ew, I love ya, an I’ll always be around keeping track of what you know

    but I don’t fit in amongst a large congregation. In fact, I stick out like a sore thumb

    so you go out there and achieve all that stuff we know you’re capable of. I won’t hold you back any more

    I’ll give ya one last piece of advice before I start lookin for a place with more room in the pews

    always keep the smile on your face, don’t eat the cocktail wienies, and always remember to pack clean underwear

    you’re gonna go far, little muse

    good luck, an God Speed

    give em HELL for me …


    (I’m not really goin any where)

  27. plunger says:

    Graham’s notes will be considered unimpeachable by all who have known how he operates. If it’s in his notebook, that is precisely what went down.

  28. Leen says:

    I thought it was Rockefeller’s staff member that had attended the briefing on 02/04/o3?

  29. plunger says:

    Congress can’t take down any of the top officials at the CIA. They don’t have the authority to. You think they do, and they are supposed to under the Constitution, but trust me, the top officials at the CIA are in fact above the law. They don’t work for you and I.

    See George HW Bush (the man whose name is on the building) for details.

    • ghostof911 says:


      Names on buildings can be changed. Thanks for keeping your eye on the main target.

  30. pretzel says:

    Thanks to all who responded to my initial question. I was curious whether there were separate briefings (which could easily account for different briefers) but also whether or not the briefings were segregated by party. I think it’s been pointed out (again, personal opinion)that in the past Skippy had used this tactic where he briefed Reps and Dems separately. My concern was that if this was one of those situation would the Dem’s have received a “watered down” version still under the same guise of “Classified Info”. The fact that even though there were more than one briefing, it seems to appear that it was more House vs. Senate briefings.

    As an aside, I would like to congratulate you emptywheel on your award bestowed last week. I love reading your site as the information and research done by so many here far surpasses anything one could ever ascertain from the media.

  31. freepatriot says:

    and an opinion about Bob Ghraham:

    he’s the “One little detail these criminals didn’t see coming”

    all criminal plans have flaws (trust me on that)

    Bob Ghraham’s, er, “Unusual” habit is something you would never think of

    and his notebooks were public knowledge at the time

    somebody linked to a 2004 article about Ghraham that made a big deal about the notebooks. But I knew about the notebooks before that

    there was something during the Clinton administration that brought that information out, and I always remembered it. It’s a clue to personality traits, and I always cling to those little nuggets

    but if I was in charge of covering up the torture, I doubt if I would have thought of it

    Bob Ghraham’s notebooks are an unaltered “real time” record

    they can’t be changed now

    Langly, We’ve had a problem !!!

    The Pen is mightier than the waterboard

  32. plunger says:

    Bob Graham knows way more than the Shadow Government wishes he knew:…..admits.htm

    PBS Interview:

    Senator: At Least One Foreign Country Assisted the 9/11 Terrorists

    GWEN IFILL: Are you suggesting that you are convinced that there was a state sponsor behind 9/11?

    SEN. BOB GRAHAM: I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing — although that was part of it — by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down, make the further case, or find the evidence that would indicate that that is not true and we can look for other reasons why the terrorists were able to function so effectively in the United States.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you think that will ever become public, which countries you’re talking about?

    SEN. BOB GRAHAM: It will become public at some point when it’s turned over to the archives, but that’s 20 or 30 years from now. And, we need to have this information now because it’s relevant to the threat that the people of the United States are facing today.

    So which nation(s) was it? We mere mortals don’t know, but we can make an educated guess about which countries it wasn’t. It obviously wasn’t any nation that the US government hates and would love to demonize. If it had been Iraq, for example, the report would not have been classified; it would’ve been personally faxed by Donald Rumsfeld to every reporter in the nation. No, the one or more facilitators of 9/11 were obviously allies, friendly countries, nations that the US doesn’t want to alienate….

    Bob Grahams knows, and these matters are directly related.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      The country you’re looking for is either Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Nothing else fits.

      Boxturtle (Remembers the important Saudi’s being flown out of America right after 9/11)

        • ghostof911 says:

          Go easy with the facts here, plunger. The true believers in the Osama fantasy still need to be spoon-fed the disturbing information. Closely-held myths are hard to let go.

  33. esaud says:

    Plunger @ 63 – How about Saudi Arabia? There was lots of stuff redacted from the 911 report, and (as I recall, can’t quite place it) Saudia Arabia wasn’t exactly helpful in turning over people implicated in 911.

  34. Leen says:

    EW thought you might want to know Justin Raimando brings up your stance on the “when Pelosi knew” and does it matter issue
    The Tortuous Logic of Nancy Pelosi

    And her defenders
    “How to reconcile that unequivocal statement with what Pelosi claims – “We were not, I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used” – is a task some partisan Democratic bloggers have taken up with alacrity, notably Marcy Wheeler, AKA “emptywheel,” who writes:

    “There’s a better way to understand this. First, look at Panetta’s statement about the briefings themselves.

    “’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.’

    “Panetta is stating two things:

    “The contemporaneous records (that is, the CIA briefer’s own notes on the briefing) show that the briefers ‘briefed truthfully … describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed”’ on Zubaydah.

    “It is up to Congress to evaluate this evidence and ‘reach its own conclusions about what happened.’

    “Now, first of all, Panetta is not saying (nor has anyone said, not even Porter Goss) that the briefers briefed Congress that these techniques had been used. I know this sounds weasely, but until someone says, in plain language, that the CIA told Congress those techniques had already been used on Abu Zubaydah, we should assume that’s not what the notes reflect, because if they did, you can be sure both the briefing list and the public statements would say so. But no one is saying that. And against that background, Panetta is reiterating the statement that Congress should determine what happened – a reiteration of the admission that CIA’s own briefing records are not the totality of the story.”

    If the definitive history of ideological blindness and partisanship is ever written, then surely Wheeler will figure prominently: her prose epitomizes what happens to the English language and logic itself when they are forced into the procrustean bed of a predetermined conclusion.”

    “For a long time, Speaker Pelosi has coasted along on the strength of her position in the Democratic Party machine. She has never faced a serious challenge to her congressional seat in San Francisco, where Democratic Party machine politics rules. Yet now that the focus is on her, and her ability to react, speak, and make a coherent argument, it is clear that she can do none of these things competently. She’s become an embarrassment to her party, to Congress, and – most importantly – to the Obama administration, which, you’ll notice, is refusing to defend her. Maybe they know something that Laura Rozen and Marcy Wheeler don’t – ya think?”…

    • Nell says:

      Pelosi faced a serious challenge in her first election to get to Congress — the Democratic primary against Harry Britt in the 1987 special election. I was a field manager for Britt in that campaign, and we came up 500 votes short. Marshall Gans out-organized us on the absentee ballots.

      It did have the desired effect of getting her to straighten up and fly left for the first couple of terms. As she gained seniority and began raising $ for other members, she drifted back to the center.

      I’ve been as critical of Nancy Pelosi as anyone, but Justin Raimondo is way off base here. The reason Obama isn’t defending her is that the only good defense is the one she’s offering: let’s have a full investigation and lay it on the table. He’s not interested in that.

      The freaking gossip club that passes for a Washington press corps hasn’t informed the public of any of the facts relevant to an assessment of the CIA’s crappy, retrospectively assembled “briefing log”, nor have they asked the briefed members of Congress about any of the discrepancies (staffers at a highly classified briefing; location; lack of presidential finding, etc. etc. etc.)

      The main focus should be on the people who made the torture happen. Obama wants the whole thing to go away. The press has no serious interest in the real issue. They’re thrilled when they can turn it into an R-D food fight — particularly with the “Dems weak!” angle that Raimondo seems to like as well.

      • Nell says:

        There is also a stinky, disgusting campaign being waged by the Likud supporters in that town to push Obama off his agenda wrt Israel and Palestine. Sally Quinn’s op-ed in today’s Washington Post, sniping at Jim Jones and trying to sow division in the admin, is straight outta AIPAC Village. That crowd would prefer to have Steny Hoyer in Pelosi’s job, and they see their opportunity to lay the groundwork. {When you see Perry Bacon rolled out, you know there’s an upper-level Post agenda being moved.}

        Andrew Sullivan’s appearance on teevee is a bright spot, but it feels like August 2002 right now, swimming through molasses.

        • ghostof911 says:

          That would be an instant replay of the same group exploiting the Monica Lewinsky fiasco for the same purpose: diverting the U.S. President from his Mideast peace initiatives.

      • cinnamonape says:

        The freaking gossip club that passes for a Washington press corps hasn’t informed the public of any of the facts relevant to an assessment of the CIA’s crappy, retrospectively assembled “briefing log”, nor have they asked the briefed members of Congress about any of the discrepancies (staffers at a highly classified briefing; location; lack of presidential finding, etc. etc. etc.)

        It’s stunning that there simply isn’t a formal record held by the CIA of what specifically was to be covered at a briefing. Every god-d*** puny little club and neighborhood association has an agenda and keeps minutes. Every local and State municipality is required to have them. Yet the CIA briefers come in without having formal “bullet-points” written-up? No prepared log for something as critical as Congressional notification, which by law they must hold, and which must be complete? They didn’t record comments, concerns, criticisms, objections or questions? What if the whole group had opposed a position? No record? By not keeping a record how can the views of the members of the Committees as a whole be conveyed back to the WH and CIA Director? Does it depend on the mood and memory of the briefer?

        And they take any notes made by the Committee heads and lock them away?

        Something seems very wrong here? It’s almost a system designed to be “gamed”…where lies can be disseminated without them being caught out. Where it inevitably gets into a he said-she said situation….and thus a political game where one can call out the other side for being unpatriotic for “demeaning our intelligence services” by calling them liars.

        • cinnamonape says:

          Here’s another possibility. Maybe Moskowitz DID keep documentation of the briefing, but he didn’t keep those records at the CIA.

          Two possibilities follow therefrom:

          a) He kept them at home. A major violation of Security Restrictions which might lead to them falling into the hands of AlPACA.

          b) That they were kept, but destroyed by that fellow who has a penchant for arson, Jose Rodriguez.

        • Nell says:

          Marty Lederman had some pessimistic assessments of the Congressional intelligence oversight system in January 2008, provoked by reflections on Jane Harman’s now-famous letter.

          I miss his posts at Balkinization, and wonder what he’s making of it all from his desk at the Office of Legal Counsel…

          No matter how much the oversight gets reformed and tightened up, though, it’s hard to imagine how it could be made robust enough to stand up to the kind of steadfast, defiant flouting Dick Cheney engaged in.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Holy cats!
          Ed Schultz is like a history teacher, or like a teacher: start here, add this, add this, add this… very much in the Maddow vein of telling a story by explaining events in sequence.

          Outta the ballpark in terms of the amount of information he packs in.

          Anyone who wants Pelosi screwed and buried just moved Ed Schultz up on their shit list.

          This is really a new format for media, IMHO.
          This is what PBS claimed to be, but never was.

        • bobschacht says:

          MSNBC hyped Ed as a Blue Collar guy, so this is not his basic billing. Perhaps what they should advertise him like a brick layer, or a mason: each foundation layer has to be laid just right before putting more stuff on top. His targeted blue collar audience can understand that. Hey, maybe even I can understand that!

          Bob in HI

        • bmaz says:

          Of course, they also could advertise Schultz for what I see him as, a mostly blithering unwatchable loudmouthed dolt. Personally, and I know others may differ, I just don’t understand why he is on the air. It is a wasted hour; they should have stuck with Schuster, he is light years better.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Very OT, limited to 129 and 130:

          I follow you, as Schultz’s overall ‘tone’ is fairly out of my personal comfort zone.
          But I’m interested (among other things) in media shifts.

          To set up some of the interviews that the longer interview times allowed by ‘new media’ (ie, the Toobz) allow is almost certainly requiring more IQ points and more focus and better narrative sense that many in the field of communications have had to use up to this point.

          I don’t know whether Maddow could have surged the way she has back when limited to 2 minute segments. But give someone with her ’smarts’ and desire for excellence a 10 or 12 minute slot, and she is remarkable.

          And Schultz has clearly been taking cues from her style, in the sense of having to summarize a whole lot of information, introduce key concepts, then bring in the guest.

          The Olbermann interview with Landay** of McClatchy tonight shows the same pattern: set it up with solid background and DotA, DotB, DotC, then bring in the guest and actually allow that guest to complete a cogent thought or sentence.

          Granted, I didn’t watch teevee news for something like… 20+ years, until it arrived on the Toobz. But even watching old clips of news reports, I suspect we are seeing something new. It could easily be manipulated, but so far allows for far better… ’storytelling’. But the extended time formats require much smarter hosts and producers, is my hunch.

          (The other guy who can really set up an interview is Mike Barnacle, but he doesn’t get much time to host interviews at MSNBC. Yet he’s often the one to ask the ‘uncomfortable question’.)

          ** I always mix his name up with that old Dallas Cowboys coach, “Landry”; the reporter, I see is Landay… (sigh; bad with names…)

    • cinnamonape says:

      I think that Justin isn’t quite seeing what is going on here. For one, Pelosi never said that she wasn’t briefed about EITs. She has said that she was not briefed about water boarding being used on AZ.

      Let’s take a look at the phrasing of the particular Summary of what was told to Pelosi and Goss on 9/4/02.

      Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of EITs that had been employed.

      Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve been reading 150 student papers and editing them for redundancies and repetition…but read that Summary carefully. Notice anything odd.

      Why would one need to state twice that you USED EITs on Abu Zubaydah? Does USE = HAD BEEN EMPLOYED? The latter definitely means “in the past”…but USE can be past, present or future…it’s indefinite. It could mean “what is to be used”, or “may possibly will be used”.

      Only in this way does the repetition make sense. Because otherwise it could have been said as

      Briefing on EITs including a description of previous use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, with background on authorities.

      The statement thus indicates that prospective, future EITs that were yet to be applied to Abu Zubaydah were discussed, including the legal authorities for those. Then they discussed SOME EITs that had already been applied. But nowhere does the description include water boarding…a technique mentioned by name in the SUMMARIES only a year later. And notice that the description of legal authorities only follows the presentation of prospective EITs, not those that hade been already applied.

      We now have three Democratic Representatives that state, without equivocation, that they were not briefed about water boarding having occurred (Pelosi, Graham, Rockefeller).

      Shelby is characteristically meanly-mouthed about what was said

      To his recollection, not only did the CIA briefers provide what was purported to be a full account of the techniques, they also described the need for these techniques and the value of the information being obtained from terrorists during questioning. The Senate briefing also included an explanation of how these techniques were consistent with the law

      Note here also the change of tense from indefinite to past tense. The briefers describe a “need” (is that past, present or future?) then he shifts to discuss the value of the information already obtained.

      Also note he slips…saying “purported” regarding the CIA providing a “full account” of the techniques. That suggests that he now knows that it was actually incomplete.

      So does this differ at all from what Pelosi or the two Democratic Senators have said? I don’t really see it? Given that here was Shelby’s chance to nail Pelosi, Graham and Rockefeller to the barnhouse door he never says the CIA specifically said that water boarding was being applied to AZ and others. Before they got their “legal authorities”. Before they advised (or misled) a paltry number of Congressional representatives.

  35. wavpeac says:

    Hey…I have not heard reference to any questions being asked of those being tortured regarding the whereabouts of Bin laden? Is there a bunch of questioning regarding where he is and what his next plan is?

    It seems to me that most of the questioning you all refer to here and other places is about Iraq/Saddam, about possible strikes. But wouldn’t you think that if they were going to use torture they might have a lot of questions about how to find Bin laden. Or maybe they are there and you all just haven’t mentioned it. Am I mistaken here?

  36. ghostof911 says:

    Obama wants the whole thing to go away.

    What is the basis for your claim? How does Obama benefit from the issue going away?

    • Nell says:

      Do you get the sense that Obama wants to see an investigation into torture any time in the next eighteen months? If so, what is your evidence?

      It’s been a rough recent period for Obama cadres: there’s no way to spin the reversal on the photo release and the revival of military commissions and the sudden move to McChrystal for Afghanistan as good news and “moving forward” with his bread-and-butter agenda, and they’re particularly disheartening to progressives who care most about the torture, detention, civil liberties, and related issues. Erica Williams appearing on CNN to cut the knees off David Waldman (KagroX) might have been a mistake, or she might have been a message sent from high up in CAP; namely: shut up, your concerns are highly inconvenient right now.

    • freepatriot says:

      it wasn’t my claim, but I could make a case for WHY Obma wants people to believe this:

      What is the basis for your claim? How does Obama benefit from the issue going away?

      Obama doesn’t benefit from the issue going away

      Obama benefits by appearing to WANT the issue to go away

      what we have here is a poker player, with a hand full of powerful cards

      and he don’t want the repuglitards to know is that Obama’s ready to play this hand, but he wants to win the WHOLE POT with one show

      Obama threw Nancy Pelosi’s head into the pot

      now the repuglitards are just about “All In”

      I been doing my part, screamin my fool head off

      but we’re just the Chorus in this game

      I don’t know how poker players do what they do, but I can recognize it when I see it

      we’re watchin a masterpiece

      but don’t let the repuglitards know what’s going on. They’re almost all in the trap now

      don’t blow it

      • Nell says:

        Obama benefits by appearing to WANT the issue to go away

        He’d clean me out in a game, for sure, because I’ve bought in completely to the idea that he actually does want it to go away, at least for the immediate future.

        • freepatriot says:

          the guy is so good that one metaphore don’t do him justice:

          He’s a poker playing magician/ringmaster

          he’s distracting you with reluctance on one hand (the shiny object), and the other hand keeps pulling rabbits out of the hat

          torture memos

          briefing summeries

          torture photos (oh wait, you don’t get to see that yet. after he saws the lady in half, she pulls the photos out or her hat)

          the repuglitard clown car appears in the ring on the right

          the Speaker of the House is being devoured by lions in the left ring

          and Obama is standing in the center ring, apologizing for all the stuff he has to do to run this Circus, and handing out bread to the masses

          coming up with all that makes me ask, after Caligula, how did the next emperor do ???

          Politics is waaaaaay better than football

        • skdadl says:

          after Caligula, how did the next emperor do ???

          By modern accounts, Claudius did fairly well, although he seems to have been unfortunate in his wives, the fourth of whom may have organized his poisoning to ensure the succession of her son. Nero.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Claudius, the cripple, the stammerer … the fool.

          Did well, ’til Messalina did him in …

        • DWBartoo says:

          Right you are, skdadl, ’twas Agrippa, the mother of Nero, who did in Claudius the God.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Gingrich is a fucking piss-poor poker player…
        He called (indirectly) for Pelosi to resign… playing the not
        fit to govern trump card.

        • prostratedragon says:

          Playing a card out of one’s hand, and calling it a high trump to boot, would indeed mark one a very poor poker player;)

  37. ezdidit says:

    Rule No.1: Never read the comments to your posts at Salon.
    Rule No.2: Get an aggressive debate coach who can help you learn to break the rules.
    Rule No.3: Learn to speak assertively into a camera.
    Rule No.4: Green means “hot”; red means “offline”. (Use appropriately for asides.)
    Puh-leez get yourself a seat at CNN !!

  38. ghostof911 says:

    Four months into the administration, and they are learning the same lesson that Clinton learned: play ball with Israel, or else.

    How does the torture investigation fit into this scenario? In one sense, it diverts Obama from his goals wrt Palestine. In the other sense, it opens the possibility of exposing Israel’s culpability in a series of war crimes, up to and including complicity in the attack on the towers.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Four months into the administration, and they are learning the same lesson that Clinton learned: play ball with Israel, or else.

      Call me naive, call me stupid, but I disagree.

      We do not have the economic relative security of the early Clinton period. It’s 16 years and nearly one generation later.
      Further, we do not have the raw materials and resources of the early 1990s.

      In addition, we have money laudering and tax havens on a vast scale; bigger than the mind can grasp. Nation-states are gasping to function in the face of economic, taxation, criminal, communication, military, and social shifts that are very different that the pre-Internet, pre-tax haven fiasco of the early 1990s.

      We are in uncharted territory.

      For all of the reasons stated above, Obama has more opportunity than probably anyone since Truman. He also has more necessity.

      He also has to deal with this issue in a much larger context.

      Bush-Cheney made decisions on false assumptions, bad relationships, extortion, force, and secrecy. Those are medieval for what is needed given today’s climate issues, economic problems, political dysfunctions, and population pressures.

      We’re in uncharted territory, and that means that there is a need to ‘act different’ and fast.

      • ghostof911 says:

        True, from the time of Clinton there has been a dramatic shifting of assets, away from the masses into the accounts of the uber rich. Also, new challenges have emerged. However, there has one constant in the equation: Israel’s self-interest at the expense of all others. That is the expected behavior of all closed societies.

  39. Nell says:

    @ 88 ReaderofTeaLeaves:
    There are a number of signs that you’re right about that, RoTL. I’m not expecting miracles, but this is really a fresh start. It will be clarifying and helpful that the current Israeli govt is so far right and rejectionist: a chunk of Obama’s base is much, much less likely to be pushing for what the Israelis want and focus on what will be best for U.S. policy.

    Related: via Laura Rozen – funny Al Kamen report of Baby Dick debating war vs. diplomacy with Iran and, um, failing to win over the audience to the war side, although they started out fairly evenly divided. Kamen’s headline: “The Other Side Was In Its Last Throes, If You Will”. (Papa Dick was there to cheer her on; possibly his glowering presence wasn’t all that helpful… )

  40. Nell says:

    Back to the Pelosi thing: Plenty of people have come and are coming to her defense. Silvestre Reyes’ statement at Rozen’s blog is excellent. Bob Graham is making real contributions.

    It the Beltway media that have their hands over their ears singing ‘la-la-la-we-can’t-hear-you’ and playing a game of telephone with each others’ rather lightly reported stories.

    EW, Rozen, TPM, and Murray Waas had it right about Plame, and they’ve got this story right. Keep pushing and the need for a real investigation will become clear; hey, I understand Michael Steele said yesterday he’s for it!

  41. plunger says:

    Israel wants the issue completely out of the media. Therefore all of Israel’s operatives, including the ownership of the mainstream media, want the issue out of the media.

    Look for those who are shouting most loudly to “move forward without looking back,” and there you will find those in the employ of, under the influence of, or blackmailed by, Israel.

    The torture of Muslims was encouraged by Israel. Israeli flags were employed as implements of torture. This is documented in the FBI report on torture.

    Do the math. Ask those who know for a fact. Ask Karen Kwiatkowski…unless you’d simply rather not know the truth, and prefer instead to dance around the obvious.

  42. jackie says:


    Baby Bush knew about ‘interrogations’ from the start. And, ‘They’ knew the whole ‘WMD’s are going to get us in 45 mins’ was B.S. from the start.
    They tortured, because they could…

    ‘We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.’

    George Bush April 24, 2003

    ‘For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.’

    Paul Wolfowitz May 28, 2003

    • cinnamonape says:

      However he was also the one that trained the Palestinian Authorities intelligence wing. And being in Tel Aviv means that he was also spying ON Israel. The ousting (or outing of the history…since they had long passed into history) of the Nazi links was certainly justified. In fact, I don’t think AIPAC actually gives a damn about such stuff. They’d make deals with ex-Nazis if it furthered their ends.

      Moskowitz is reputedly the one that first screamed about the WH’s outing Valerie Plame. And he was apparently one that was ousted as “not finding the link between bin Laden-Zarqawi-Saddam” that Cheney was so fixated upon. That’s why Goss was given the Directorship.

      “Mr. McLaughlin submitted his resignation after clashing with Patrick Murray, a top aide to Mr. Goss, two former intelligence officials said…Still, the officials said that tensions between Mr. Goss’s staff and the agency’s directorate of operations in particular had made it increasingly unclear whether Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director for operations, would stay on in his post…Mr. Goss had been sharply critical of the directorate before taking over, and he has not made any announcement about Mr. Kappes’s future…Mr. Goss, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, became director of central intelligence in late September and has unnerved many career officials at the C.I.A. by installing four former House Republican officials in senior advisory positions. For weeks, current and former intelligence officials have been bracing for further changes…The resignation is among those marking the end of a notably stable era within the C.I.A.’s executive suite. Other senior officials who served under Mr. Tenet but who have departed, or announced plans to depart, since Mr. Goss took over include A. B. Krongard, the executive director; Martin Petersen, the deputy executive director; and Stan Moskowitz, the Congressional affairs director.”

      Krongard had other issues as well, mainly conflict of interest issues with his brother.

  43. Leen says:

    I agree with EW who keeps reminding us that what Pelosi knew when is a diversionary tactic Get back to who ordered the torture laws to be re-writtten, who re-wrote the laws, who ordered them to be used, and I am also for investigating those who used them.

    I agree with Raimando that What Pelosi knew When is important but certainly not near as important. She should have pushed back hard in what ever way she could when she even had a clue as to what was going on.

    I agree with Andrew Sullivan “where are the conservatives” on this torture issue. War crimes were committed

    • emptywheel says:

      Don’t get me wrong–I think Pelosi was no hero in the least.

      I think people badly overestimate what would have happened had she, in September 2002, stood on the floor of the House and said, “they’re planning to torture.”

      But ultimately, her biggest failing was in taking impeachment off the table.

      • Leen says:

        Hell all we were saying was give impeachment a chance. Pelosi really pissed me off as well as so many others

  44. cinnamonape says:

    If Moskowitz was doing most of these briefings, and he’s now dead, then who the hell are they using to obtain recollections of what was actually said in these briefings? Rodriguez, the tape-destroyer? Fredman, the guy who thinks that the barometer of a successful EIT is whether you bring someone to the precipice of death?

    Why do I think that these two criminals would not give “unbiased” witness reports?

  45. plunger says:

    To say nothing of the CIA’s outright denial of his involvement in these briefings, the curious timing of his death and background of Stanley Moskowitz leads one to believe he was doing the bidding of those whose interests align with Israel. It was he who was directly involved in disclosure of Nazis hidden within the CIA (with the help of Porter Goss and others):

    CIA covered for Nazi war criminals during Cold War

    “CIA has been struggling with the nettlesome problem of how to balance the public’s interest in the historical record of CIA’s connections to Nazis, and an intelligence agency’s need … to protect the identities of sources,” said Stanley Moskowitz, a former CIA official who is now a consultant to the agency.

  46. pmorlan says:

    I did a post on my blog today about the fact that the WaPo wrote a bunch of highly critical stories about Pelosi vs. CIA over the weekend yet they didn’t bother to mention that a former CIA Deputy Inspector General accused the CIA of LYING TO CONGRESS DURING CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFINGS (just like Pelosi) in a 2006 WaPo front page story. Do you think the Post forgot about their own source? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. This Pelosi story is really beginning to look more and more like the 1984 Goldwater/CIA disinformation campaign.

  47. plunger says:

    See why the CIA is so motivated to keep Moskowitz name out of the picture where briefings related to CIA War Crimes is concerned?

    They are lying through their teeth when they claim that Moskowitz was not the briefer. Nail that lie to the wall, then go after the rest.

    Did he really die of natural causes?

  48. bobschacht says:

    EW’s Salon masterpiece on 13 torturers is now up at NewsTrust. The more people who add their own ratings to this review, the more visibility EW’s post will get in this news aggregator.

    Bob in HI

  49. plunger says:

    Since Watergate, the CIA’s case officers have been restrained by the expectation that taking risks in pursuit of actionable intelligence would bring career-ending, or even life-threatening, exposure if things went badly and details came to light. …The irony may be that Rodriguez could have made matters worse, rather than better, for the clandestine service by destroying the tapes. A former senior Administration official says that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the case officers had been approved by top lawyers and officials at the Justice Department and the White House, including then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Even if the techniques were in violation of the domestic and international prohibitions on torture, it would have been very hard for the powers at the White House, CIA and Justice to “moonwalk” away from the techniques if and when they were exposed.…..ack-bauer/

  50. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    cinnamonape @107

    Oh, to underscore your point: when I’ve listened to public testimony the entire meetings are recorded, then transcribed. If the person in charge of minutes, summaries, and record keeping is not accurate they would be: 1. fired or ‘transferred’ to a much lower paying position, and 2. get their ass (or their government entity’s ass) sued.

    No one in their sane, right mind is so dumb as to not keep good records if only to cover their butts.

    That is why, in fact, many council and commission meetings open SPECIFICALLY with an Agenda Item that reads: “Approval of Minutes and Records of Previous Meeting.” And I’ve seen plenty of fur fly over these things. When someone thinks the record might cost them money or a lawsuit, they’re damn persistent.

    Even my local school district would not risk a lawsuit over something like this — and consider a situation where there was something like a $40 million dollar school building contract on the line and one party seeking contracts could prove that the school district failed to keep accurate records?

    This is what people sue over.
    So clearly, different rules operate for the CIA.

  51. plunger says:

    At the CIA, and as the term was used by the Bush Administration when speaking to the press, the term “Actionable Intelligence” does not mean what you think it means.

    By definition, inside the CIA, the term means “Apparent Justification” for any policy an administration wishes to pursue.

    It means “fix the facts” to the predetermined narrative.

    Colin Powell knew damn well that his UN dog and pony show was that exact type of “Actionable Intelligence.” Everyone in DC knew that it simply fit the “WMD STORY” that Wolfowitz admitted everyone had “settled on.”

    Once you come to understand the actual meaning of the words they use (break their code), you come to understand that they actually broadcast their intent to other “code talkers” directly through the media.

    The CIA is in the business of inventing “intelligence.” It’s what they do.

  52. esseff44 says:

    Nancy Pelosi does not speak carelessly and imprecisely. She is well aware of how statements get mischaracterized in the MSM. It would be very unlike her to make statements that she can’t back up or that others can’t back up. She would know of Bob Graham and his notebooks. The press is making it sound like she and Panetta are in some boxing match complete with the gongs and visuals of boxing rings. Panetta did not in fact contradict her. He only stated the policy of informing Congress when everyone knows the difference between policy and reality. In each case, he is telling Congress that it is up to Congress to figure out what really happened. That means an investigation and hearings. He can’t attest to the accuracy of the records…..only what records exist and what they say on their face.

    Nancy Pelosi is correct that those briefed are at a disadvantage since they can’t keep their notes or divulge what was said except what is allowed by the secrecy laws. It is no wonder she has to be so careful about her statements to the press and seemed off balance when looking through her papers. Yet, that was the only part of her press conference that shown on most programs. The rest of her press conference, her interview with NYT and on Rachel on the subject showed her to be clear, confident and articulate. It’s not Nancy who is lying….it’s the coverage.

    Wasn’t there a poll that showed most people believed her version over the CIA’s?

    She was correct that she was pressing hard in 2002-2003 to stop the rush to war. She saw the intel did not support the invasion of Iraq. That’s the way she voted and tried to get others to vote. I got a letter from her at that time saying as much. This is in contrast to Senator Feinstein who was telling her constituents up to the moment of the vote that she was against it and then voted for it. Her letter trying to justify her vote was a piece of nonsense and citing intel briefings that we knew even back then were tainted and cooked. Now, she is chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee and would be in charge of any hearing on the subject. Is DiFi going to investigate herself and her complicity in the whole sordid mess? Nancy knows this all too well. It is another reason she has to be careful. The Congressional committees are pretty well stacked against getting at the truth. Look at the rosters. The Dems are almost as bad as the Pubs as far as complicity and coverup and blame. It has to be a truly independent commission or it will not be worth doing. In some ways, we are not much better off now than in 2002 when one looks at these committe rosters and who is in charge of what. It’s only in the committees that stuff gets done. With a chair like Feinstein…well……there you are.

    Oversight has failed. Congress can’t investigate itself on this matter.

    • marksb says:

      Oversight has failed. Congress can’t investigate itself on this matter

      So…this would be where the poker playing president shrugs and throws in the special prosecutor card. The question is, how long does it take to declare Congress incapable of investigating itself…but one could make that determination right away, based on just this weekend he said/she said with the Speaker. And the popular opinion that the Dems are as involved in this as the GOP establishes the need for the prosecutor. (Rubs hands together and puts popcorn and beer on shopping list.)

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      It’s not Nancy who is lying….it’s the coverage.


      Oversight has failed. Congress can’t investigate itself on this matter.


  53. SparklestheIguana says:

    Oh lord, this is painful.

    Rochester, N.Y.: Perry, Leon Panetta has to defend the CIA (if he didn’t, there’d be a revolt – they were already unhappy enough that he was appointed as director), so I am not surprised he did. Given that he wasn’t at the agency when they supposedly told Congress what they were doing, how can he be sure what he’s being told actually occurred? Also, Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only Congress person saying she was misled – Bob Graham has said that too. Frankly, there is guilt on both sides of the aisle – the Republicans enacted cruel interrogation policies and the Democrats let them do it.

    Perry Bacon Jr.: I think Panetta didn’t have to give as strong of a comment as he did, directly contradicting Pelosi. He could have said the records are inconclusive or something else, although yes, her comments did box him into the need for a response.

    Fremont, Calif.: I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on television (or on the internet) but I don’t see Panetta and Pelosi’s statements as mutually exclusive. Pelosi says she was misled by the CIA and Panetta says the CIA did not lie to Congress. While most in the media are saying one statement contradicts the other, that’s not exactly true, is it?

    Perry Bacon Jr.: Maybe there is some way these comments are not mutually exclusive, I know Tim Kaine said that on television yesterday. I don’t exactly see how: it would seem Pelosi has said the CIa told her waterboarding was not being used, Panetta says the records show she was briefing on waterboarding.…..03258.html

  54. radiofreewill says:

    I’m speculating…

    Between the Member Briefings Report and Graham’s Notes, why not postulate that Bush Spied on Congress using a CTC-controlled OCA and the Congressional Staffs?

    That way, Panetta’s Chart would be correct – Graham was briefed by Moskowitz, of CTC, performing his secret function in OCA.

    In other words, as part of his Militarized Response to 911, Bush not only treated the Domestic US as an integral part of the ‘battlefield’, but he also considered the ‘enemy’ to be Ideological – iow, it was possible, if not probable in Bush’s mind, that US Citizens could ‘give aid and comfort to the enemy’ through ‘wrong thinking.’

    Therefore, Everyone – including, and maybe especially, Congress – went under Full-Spectrum Surveillance through Bush’s Program.

    What that may have meant in terms of Activities in Bush’s Program would likely have been Many Compartmentalized Elements – Data-Mining, listening-in to foreign conversations, Harsh Interrogations, Media Management (OTR Club), etc – and for High Value Targets, like Congress, actual People-on-the-Ground Operations.

    So, working out of Cheney’s Shadow NSC, Bush Secretly ordered Loyalists into Compartments inside CIA at CTC, who then ‘ran an Op’ to take control – mainly through sexual compromise – of OCA and the Congressional Staffs – thereby ‘taking charge’ of the Administrative Processes that actually run Congress on a day-to-day basis.

    This would have the effect of making the staffs the ‘handlers’ and ‘watchers’ of the various Congressional Members – putting people like Pelosi and Graham, Daschle and Leahy, and everyone else, in glass jars and manipulating – in secret – everything that got done – like Specter’s staff surreptitiously ‘inserting’ that clause into the Patriot Act, for instance.

    In other words, Bush the UE may have run a Covert Op to Spy On and Take Control of Congress in the name of his Unlimited Power – because Congress, just like US, might contain the Ideological Enemy – which, to Bush, was certainly anyone who might try and put a check or balance on him.

    So, Panetta may be saying that the information in the Member Briefings Report is from the CIA – it’s just from a secret compartment inside the CIA that he can’t talk about – inside CTC – that was Directly Controlled – including their records – by Bush and Cheney through the Shadow NSC.

    And, he may be saying to Congress – I’ll leave it up to you, Congress, to do the Investigation I can’t do – open-up a Militarized, Presidentially Controlled Compartment inside the CIA/NSC – and determine for yourself the Report’s ‘accuracy’ – and the True Nature of the Briefings for yourselves.

    If any of this speculation is true, then I would expect Cheney’s Fourth Branch to be staffed by thousands and thousands of Bureaucratic Spies – and Tightly Coupled to AIPAC/Israel/Wall Street Lobbyists – All to Control US and push the Neocon Agenda.

    But, I’m just speculating…

  55. MrWhy says:

    Has anyone written the following article?

    Here is how the Gang of Four/Eight etc. get briefed. This is who they can talk to about the briefing. here is what they can document w.r.t. the briefing. here is how they can question the policy aspects of the briefing. here is how they can call into question the behaviours highlighted in the briefing. here is how they can inform their leadership about the meat of the briefing.

    Here is what they cannot do. Here is how their abilities to shine a light on their briefings have changed over the years.

    • Nell says:

      The closest anyone has come in the is this op ed in Thursday’s New York Times by a former deputy counsel to the CIA Counterterrorism Center.

      She makes excellent points about the way in which, over time, the CIA and successive administrations have gutted the ability of the Congress to exert real oversight, focusing in this case on the way in which the ‘gang of eight’ exception, intended for rare and urgent situations, has swallowed the rule that the full committees be briefed. In this case, even the gang of eight rule was flouted.

      I’d bet anything that Perry Bacon, Jr. couldn’t answer the most basic quiz about the two intelligence committees’ structure and functioning, and that he hasn’t even read the above op ed: that’s what makes him so perfect for the crowd that now runs the Post.

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