CIA Has No Idea What It Briefed Congress on Torture

The CIA documents released in the latest FOIA batch prove that all the claims that CIA (and Crazy Pete Hoekstra) have made about briefings Congress received on torture are, at best, reconstructions based on years old memories, if not outright fabrications.

The documents appear to have been a summary of torture briefings CIA Office of Congressional Affairs put together on July 11, 2004 in anticipation of CIA’s Congressional briefing in July 2004.

The summary shows that:

CIA OCA had not written up the briefings it gave Porter Goss and Jane Harman in February 2003 or the Gang of Four in September 2003 before July 2004. At that time, Moskowitz explained that the “[Memoranda for the Record] for the remainder of the sessions are being finalized.” In fact, the MFR for the February 2003 Goss-Harman briefing was ultimately closed in 2007, after Moskowitz had passed away. Thus, any claims they make about the content of those briefings cannot be said to be accurate.

Also, when putting together a list of briefings, OCA head Stan Moskowitz didn’t even seem to consider the September 2002 briefings (at which Bob Graham said he was not told about torture at all and Nancy Pelosi was told it might be used in the future) to be relevant as a Gang of Four briefing regarding interrogation/detainee issues. Now, it’s possible that Moskowitz was asked to summarize only the possible discussions of the torture tapes (page 11 seems to suggest this pertains to torture tape destruction and no one has ever claimed that CIA briefed on the torture tapes in 2002). Or, it may be that CIA just didn’t consider those the truly sensitive briefings.

The only MFR that OCA seemed to have completed by July 2004 is the February 4, 2003 briefing, at which Pat Roberts apparently unequivocally approved of destroying the torture tapes (and at which he also agreed to end nascent Congressional attempts at oversight). As noted in several places in these documents, Jay Rockefeller did not attend that briefing.

In other words, the claims that CIA had detailed records about what Nancy Pelosi or Jane Harman or Jay Rockefeller said about destroying the torture tapes? They appear to be completely fabricated.

39 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Suggested hed change: CIA Proves It Fabricated Claims It Briefed Congress

    Suggested subhed: CIA’s briefing records can’t be trusted, and dog bites man.


  2. fatster says:

    You might expand the title, EW, to: “CIA had no idea what or when it briefed Congress on torture.” Thanks to all your excellent work, and Bob Graham’s little journals, we are much nearer to accuracy than we otherwise would have been.

  3. klynn says:

    In other words, the claims that CIA had detailed records about what Nancy Pelosi or Jane Harman or Jay Rockefeller said about destroying the torture tapes? They appear to be completely fabricated.

    Let’s hope they pay attention to your writing!

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    In other words, the claims that CIA had detailed records about what Nancy Pelosi or Jane Harman or Jay Rockefeller said about destroying the torture tapes? They appear to be completely fabricated.

    For once, I’m speechless.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Since when is a confidential, hush, hush, on the QT nod by a Congressional committee chairman the equivalent of full “Congressional” or legal authorization to destroy executive branch records or records of alleged crimes or those sought for investigative purposes?

  6. kevincharlottenc says:

    Wait… wait… an ageny full of people who make a living lying and disseminating misinformation are…. lying? covering something up?
    NOES!!!! Impossibel!!!!1111

  7. MadDog says:

    Shorter CIA: “But…but…we bugged and recorded those briefings. Yes, the tapes were destroyed, but…but…”

  8. Jeff Kaye says:

    Moskowitz/CIA to Hollow Man cum Senator Roberts: “…our responce [sic] that we would not support reading another staffer into the program nor allow any staffer to review the interrogations in real time or visit the clandestine site where the interrogations were taking place…”

    How nakedly they admit that they lay down the law, and how quickly and cravenly Roberts saluted! What an empty simulacrum of a “meeting” (and how human that Roberts “winced” over the drill bit… but you can bet the CIA included it so the guys back at the office could laugh their asses off).

  9. Bluetoe2 says:

    I’m glad Marcy is still digging and keeping this alive. The corporate media is following Obama’s lead and “looking forward.” Perhaps a future administration will have the courage to open an investigation. By then Obama may well be an accomplice.

  10. Margaret says:

    I believe that the CIA exists to be the (incompetent) face of a wholly much more secret and dangerous organization. I’m not given to conspiracy theories but it makes sense to present a clown in order to distract the viewers from the guy stealing your wallet.

    • kindGSL says:

      Sure, we all know that. It is a constantly changing vegetable soup, we just call ’em all CIA to keep it easy.

  11. stevelaudig says:

    “No loose ends.” It was committing crimes and wanted no evidence that would be awkward to have to explain away. Goss feigned naivete. Harmon probably didn’t have to then.

  12. emptywheel says:


    A) No, I am proving that CIA doesn’t know what the fuck it told, at a minimum, Rockefeller and Harman.

    B) If they say they weren’t told, and CIA doesn’t have any record of telling them, then why are you so damn sure when even the CIA isn’t?

    I’d also suggest the fact that they didn’t get around to writing up the Harman Goss briefing–when we know Harman raised concerns because we have the letter proving it–suggests they didn’t want a record of anyone objecting.

    • emptywheel says:

      One more point.

      What’s interesting about this release is that the CIA stalled on it. It should have been released for the ghost detainee FOIA a few weeks ago, as the MFR for the Roberts’ briefing was. But it wasn’t.

      So I’d suggest the CIA is none too happy about having to show that they’ve got no paperwork backing their attacks on Democrats. And frankly, no paperwork backing their claims to have briefed Congress.

      • kindGSL says:

        No paper work on how they spend their budget or who they torture to death, what do they keep paper work on?

        Other people? I don’t see why I have to pay taxes for abuse.

  13. Leen says:

    EW all did you see the interview that Chris Matthews did with John Kirikau last evening about waterboarding?

    “Defining Torture” over at Hardball. Unable to link. Seems to be some blocking or trouble with this link over at Hardball “Defining Torture”

    Former Cia interrogator John Kirikau interviewed by Matthews

    • bobschacht says:

      I tried to get the link for you, but ran into the same problem. The Hardball clips show the Kiriakou interview, but if you click on it, it skips to the next segment. If you click on the preceding segment, after that segment finishes, the active window briefly shows the Kiriakou interview as next, but then skips over it. I wonder what it is about that interview that caused MSNBC to pull it?

      I watched it live, and thought that K. was scoring points against Cheney– but then I wasn’t paying close attention.

      Bob in AZ

      • kindGSL says:

        It looks to be deliberately jammed, I think the interesting question is who is doing it? Would you like to try to call MSNBC and find out?

        NY 1-212-664-4444 after 9:30 am
        DC 1-202-885-4000

  14. wavpeac says:

    If I try to look for the kernal of truth in why the dems did not go after the war crimes of bushco…the only one I can come up with that makes ANY moral sense to me, is that they knew that the administration had destroyed massive amounts of evidence, that they doctored their records and that proving the crimes would have been nearly impossible. However, they surely could have gotten a few convictions on the destruction of evidence…but if I were a dem, given what happened with Iran/contra…I might not think that the path was worth it.

    But the result is that our govern (the mint) has no government in it.

    The map is not the territory.

  15. timr says:

    for at least several decades the left hand of the CIA had little or no idea what its right hand was doing. It is really quite sad to see that they still don’t.

  16. TheOracle says:

    “As noted in several places in these documents, Jay Rockefeller did not attend that briefing.”

    Didn’t one of Rockefeller’s aides attend that briefing in his place?

    This was one item that leaped off the page while I was reading about the CIA briefings…his aide attended, but not Sen. Rockefeller.

    Which raised a lot of questions in my mind.

    Did Rockefeller’s aide report back to him on what was briefed, or not? Reportedly, Sen. Rockefeller couldn’t even tell members of his senate staff what was discussed in these briefings, so by extension, any aide of his that was briefed could not tell Sen. Rockefeller about anything that went on in those briefings. Nothing was ever meant to leave those briefing rooms. Briefing information was only meant for the ears of the person being briefed, and could go no further. So, why was Sen. Rockefeller’s aide there being briefed and not him? Was this an attempt by BushCo to later claim that they had briefed Congress, per the limits that BushCo had put in place, but failing to mention that they had even bypassed those that were supposed to be briefed (like a sitting senator), instead choosing to brief one of their aides? And who was this aide? Was Sen. Rockefeller informed this was happening? Were more senate “aides” briefed, while the sitting senator was kept in the dark?

    Anyway, if Sen. Rockefeller was forbidden from telling his own aides what happened in these briefings, then what was one of his aides doing at the briefing, because conversely, wouldn’t the aide be forbidden from telling Sen. Rockefeller anything that was said there?

Comments are closed.