CIA Lying to ABC about Torture. Again. ABC Reporting It Uncritically. Again.

As bmaz has reported, the CIA has sent a list of torture briefings to Crazy Pete Hoekstra on when and whom in Congress got briefed that the CIA was in the torture business. And ABC news, just off having to admit the CIA lied to them about torture in the past, has taken what the CIA gave them and treated it totally uncritically. Again.

Based on the list (which I’ve also obtained), they’re out with a post claiming they’ve caught Pelosi in a contradiction.

The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. 

Setting aside the fact that the list doesn’t mention waterboarding specifically in its description of that briefing (it does in quite a few others), there are huge problems with using the list as a basis to claim anything.

First, there’s this paragraph the CIA included in the letter they sent with the briefing list to Crazy Pete (which ABC didn’t think important enough to include when they first posted this story):

This letter presents the most thorough information we have on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFRs completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened. We can make the MFRs available at CIA for staff review. [my emphasis]

CIA: "Here’s a list, but we won’t vouch for its accuracy."

ABC: "We’ve proven that Nancy was wrong!!"

ABC, after having been burned in the past, took documents that the CIA itself said might not be accurate, and treated them as accurate.

But it gets worse. ABC printed the following description, as if it were an accurate representation of the next set of torture briefings, which took place in February 2003.

On Feb. 4, 2003, a briefing on “enhanced interrogation techniques” for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., revealed that interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri were taped.

ABC doesn’t tell you, but there’s an asterisk by Jello Jay’s name, saying, "later individual briefing to Rockefeller," with no indication of when they say he got briefed, whether it was in addition to or in lieu of the briefing listed here, or what. Now, ABC might have referred to the other public document that might give them some explanation on that point. For example, they might refer to the SSCI Narrative which (as Jello Jay pointed out in his intro to it) offered everyone involved a chance to ensure the accuracy of the document.

The understanding of the participants was that while the final product would be a Legislative Branch document, the collaborative nature of this process would provide the Executive Branch participants with the opportunity to ensure its accuracy.

If they had, they would have learned this about the briefing:

After the change in leadership of the Committee in January of 2003, CIA records indicate that the new Chairman of the Committee was briefed on the CIA’s program in early 2003. Although the new Vice-Chairman did not attend that briefing, it was attended by both the staff director and minority staff director of the Committee. [my emphasis]

In other words, the CIA doesn’t even have the attendee list correct. Jello Jay was not at the briefing that CIA lists him attending. No wonder CIA won’t vouch for the accuracy of their document. Yet, even with that asterisk there, ABC assumes that means Jello Jay got briefed as well. (Incidentally, CIA also fails to mention that Jello Jay and/or Pat Roberts had to remind them, in 2004, about the Eighth Amendment.)

Let’s see. Jello Jay doesn’t agree with the document. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t agree with it.

But you know who else disagrees with the document? Porter Goss. As I’ve pointed out, he seems to agree with Nancy Pelosi that when they were briefed about torture in 2002 (after Abu Zubaydah had already been waterboarded), they were talking about torture in the subjunctive mood, not in the past tense.

In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s "High Value Terrorist Program," including the development of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and what those techniques were. 


Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as "waterboarding" were never mentioned.

"Were to be employed." Even in an op-ed attacking Pelosi, Goss never makes the claim that Pelosi knew they had been employed.

So Nancy Pelosi, Jay Rockefeller, and Porter Goss have all already identified problems with a document that the CIA itself refuses to vouch for. And who does ABC believe?

One more thing, which is more about CYA at the CIA than outright deception–maybe. For just about every briefing, the CIA lists who from the CIA attended the briefing (by function): for example, it lists CTC (Counterterrorism), DCI (Director), DDCI (Deputy Director), OGC (General Counsel). The exception are six briefings in 2005 and one in 2006. That’s particularly curious, given that Mary McCarthy has said the CIA lied during two briefings in 2005 (though note–that story says the briefings took place in February and June, which doesn’t correlate with the list, which shows briefings in January, March, October,  and November).

I’ll have more to say about this list in the coming days (particularly about the way it shows CIA briefed Republicans on torture a lot more than it did Democrats–and even the CIA never asserts it told any Democrat about waterboarding until after the 2004 IG Report came out). 

But for now, suffice it to say it’s clearly full of easily discerned problems. Which might be why CIA won’t vouch for it.

Nevertheless, ABC thinks it’s as great as the story they got about Abu Zubaydah being waterboarded just once.

72 replies
  1. radiofreewill says:

    The CIA should release All of the Memoranda of Record that were used to support this report, so that accurate conclusions about its validity can be made.

    Goss should be asked point-blank: Were you and Nancy Pelosi briefed on the use of Waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah, or anyone else, at the 9/4/02 briefing?

    • emptywheel says:

      1) Why should we believe the MOUs when we’ve got evidence they’re pretty consistently inaccurate?

      2) No, the question for Goss is a) were you briefed that torture had already happened to AZ, and were you briefed taht waterboarding was among those that had already happened?

      But we don’t have to ask–he has already stopped far short of making that claim. If he could have made it, he would have.

      • bmaz says:

        Well, they did have an extremely vested interest in framing things to cover themselves with faux (and, let’s face it a degree of real) complicity on the part of Congress, especially the Dems.

        • emptywheel says:


          Let’s talk about real complicity.

          They could have exposed the program under speech and debate.

          But at least according to the CIA itself, it may be that NO DEM knew about the waterboarding until after the CIA IG report came out. And we know, at that point at least, they were doing a lot of things to make sure they did reel in CIA.

      • radiofreewill says:

        If we had the ‘memorializing notes’ and they were all written in ‘08, imvho, then the report should be considered very unreliable and viewed with suspicion.

        However, if the notes were relatively contemporaneous – from the Briefers and Staffers themselves – within days of the Briefings, imvho, then they should be given greater weight.

        I like your question for Goss better than mine – there’s much less wiggle-room the way you phrased it.

      • cinnamonape says:

        Or HE was briefed on that – privately (or exclusively with Roberts and/or Hoekstra) – and he knew that the Democrats were being given a completely different briefing.

  2. MadDog says:

    As I said in the previous post, there’s a fookin’ war going on about this in DC, and we’re only seeing the fireworks from afar.

    And as I’ve stated here before, this is not going to go away.

    The storm is brewing and both Democrats and Repugs can see it approaching over the horizon.

    Leahy’s Truth and Reconciliation Commisions? Pfui!

    Feinstein’s secret investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee? Pfui!

    AG Holder’s non-committal “if we see laws have been broken, we’ll pursue it”? Pfui!

    President Obama’s “looking forward, not backwards”? Pfui!

    I don’t think any still quite realize that this sucker has got a life of its own, and no one is going to be able to derail or stop it.

    If the Democrats were smart, and had some cojones, they’d ride this bull, because it’s either that or get run over by it!

  3. MadDog says:

    …I’ll have more to say about this list in the coming days…

    In that case, I better get my 40 winks now. *g*

    Night all!

  4. WilliamOckham says:

    As I said in a comment on the last post, I’m pretty sure Porter Goss was not a member of the HPSCI on March 08, 2005, but that’s what this document claims. Think about how they made that error. It’s almost certainly a cut and paste error. Which suggests to me that something’s up with that meeting. Especially since half the people allegedly at that meeting got a briefing the day before.

    • MrWhy says:

      According to Wikipedia, Porter Goss was DCI from 24 Sep 2004 thru 21 Apr 2005. He was nominated for the position on 10 Aug 2004.

      Can’t trust Wikipedia to be non-partisan, though. Wikipedia also notes that Michael Moore’s production company interviewed PG on 3 Mar 2004, and PG describes himself as “probably not qualified” for the job.

  5. JohnLopresti says:

    Condoleezza, ‘atmosphere”, partially clued student of Standford University…AmericanBroadCastingSystem, Pelosi was the liberelle who knew what Republicans knew although later after the hype launch in the media…First terrorize the Republicans from G8, else, surprisingly, their primary employee designate. Then versionize the Democratic ranking, more rudely, less informatively, a posteriori. I wonder what Joe Biden has to relate in this regard. He was complaining about disequality in process early.

  6. nadezhda says:

    I continue to think that the Torture Gang (some combo of CIA, Addington, Haynes for DOD and Yoo) exploited the compartmenatlized bureaucratic process to get holy water sprinkled on the torture system without some of the senior decisionmakers really understanding what they were approving, while making sure the bureaucratic CYA boxes were checked. The key to the success of the process was to tell as little as possible to anyone who might interfere until after so much had been done that it was too late to stop systematic war crimes from having been committed. But disclose just enough and create a paper trail in order to claim later that everybody had signed off so that everybody was now compromised.

    The critical period was June-Sept 2002, when they were getting NSC clearance (Condi to Tenet), subject to the OLC sign-off, and once they got the legal opinion, then doing the CYA briefings to the various Gang of Four members. I bet they told the NSC principals only enough to get the OK — Powell’s been pointing to the early NSC sessions, and he doesn’t seem to be fessing up to having authorized what actually went on, which suggests to me that at least Powell thinks the Torture Gang wasn’t exactly forthcoming about what they were actually getting NSC to authorize. And by the same token, I also bet the Torture Gang told the Congressional leaders only just enough to appear to compromise them, so they could say “everybody knew and nobody objected”.

    Let’s go back two weeks ago (see EW post) to that Friday night report dump reported in WaPo — the DoD to CIA to OLC report on how the “enhanced interrogation” techniques were neither safe nor effective. According to (probably) Condi’s lawyer at NSC, the info being given to NSC principals was being sanitized. Here’s from EW:

    The document comes complete with quotes from someone (my wildarsed guess is John Bellinger) who had been involved in deliberations on the torture policy stating that CIA shared none of this with the National Security Council.

    A former administration official said the National Security Council, which was briefed repeatedly that summer on the CIA’s planned interrogation program by George Tenet, then Director of Central Intelligence, and agency lawyers, did not discuss the issues raised in the attachment.

    “That information was not brought to the attention of the principals,” said the former administration official, who was involved in deliberations on interrogation policy who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “That would have been relevant. The CIA did not present with pros and cons, or points or concern. They said this was safe and effective, and there was no alternative.

    And you can bet they told the Gang of Four members the same thing — that it was safe and effective, and there was no alternative, and that it was perfectly legal, because by now they had the OLC memos. Is it all that much of a stretch to speculate that they also neglected at the first briefing (the only one Pelosi attended), before they’d really launched their system or obtained much in the way of “results” they could point to, that they left it vague what they’d already inflicted on AZ?

    This isn’t a clear “smoking gun” of documentable discrepancies like the ones EW keeps catching. But the Gang of Four briefings have to be placed in the context of the Torture Gang’s pattern of behavior in navigating the bureaucratic approval process. We may hold folks at the NSC like Condi or Powell responsible for being naive or for failing to do their jobs properly. Or like Porter Goss, we may shake our heads and say Pelosi obviously “should have known” what the briefing meant.

    But I don’t think we should ignore the possiblity that there was a good deal of sanitizing going on by the folks who were driving this process while at the same time they were checking off all the bureaucratic boxes so they could make at least a colorable claim that “everybody knew and signed off”.

    • dmvdc says:

      Indeed. And to support your argument about the manipulation of the bureaucracy, we know that Cheney and Rumsfeld were both supremely skilled bureaucratic fighters. (See Ricks’ Fiasco.)

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Your analysis strikes me as spot-on in terms of how the information would have been sanitized for Pelosi, Rockefeller. After all, this is the same group that was setting up private meetings with Iranians in Rome; not exactly known for their truthfulness or accuracy.

      But for William Ockham @7, in case any of this info from two of EW’s timelines is useful:


      Excerpt from EW’s TORTURE TIMELINE:

      February 14, 2005: Gonzales sworn in.

      March 2, 2005: Memorandum for Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from [redacted], DCI Counterterrorist Center, Re: Effectiveness of the CIA Counterintelligence Interrogation Techniques created.

      March 2005: CIA briefs Roberts and Rockefeller on torture.



      2005, unknown date: RNC terminates Rove’s ability to delete his own email.

      February 15, 2005: No email archive of OVP emails.

      February 16, 2005: No email archive of OVP emails.

      February 17, 2005: No email archive of OVP emails.


      If the Wikipedia page for Porter Goss is accurate, you are correct — he was at the CIA in March 2005, as Director:

      CIA Director 22-Sep-2004 to 5-May-2006 (resigned)

      So on that 5 March 2005, Porter Goss was CIA Director; the previous month, the OVP had failed to properly archive its email; and Abu Gonzo was still a fairly recent AG appointee.


      And just for the heck of it, I’ll toss in this little nugget from a search at NYT for the date ‘5 March 2005′:

      WASHINGTON, March 17 (AP) – Fannie Mae, the nation’s largest buyer of home mortgages, said Thursday that it would miss the regulatory deadline for filing its financial report for 2004 and might have to record an additional loss of some $2.4 billion. A discovery of falsified signatures raised the possibility of criminal activity by company employees.
      March 18, 2005

    • emptywheel says:


      You’re absolutely right. But what we know about the first briefing is much much stronger. They DID NOT say they had done these things to Abu Zubaydah, and may well have even said they HAD NOT yet, specifically denying the truth.

  7. MrWhy says:

    There’s need for an attributed sourcelist of this timeline. Each subject element needs to be documented as supported by either MFRs, or NSBRI (notes summarizing best recollections of individuals), with note of whose MFR or NSBRI is the source for the subject element. A date on each of those MFRs and NSBRI would also be helpful. We could then say with some credibility – contemporaneously documented, or dissembling CYA.

  8. radiofreewill says:

    Not surprisingly, comments at ABC and the WaPo are running 95% against Pelosi.

    The gist of it seems to be: “The Dems said they were the Party of Principles, well look at them now? Pelosi’s a liar! What gives the Dems the right to investigate “Bush’s” Torture when they all agreed to it.”

    Imvho, the Goopers fully intend to pull the Dems into their cesspool by Taking Down Pelosi.

    • dmvdc says:

      The only adequate response is to pick up a heavy club and hit back. The wishy-washiness of Democrats on this was pointed out in the other thread. Right now, lacking full disclosure of all information, struggling to piece together the truth from drips and drabs and leaks and whispers, perception is what matters. You are correct. The Republicans are trying to use this to take the Democrats down. They will use everything they can to do so. If the Democrats don’t put together and implement a strong, assertive statement of a principled position, the Democrats will be responsible for chaining themselves to the Republicans on this. The post-partisan dream is over. It’s time the Democrats go bare-knuckled on this one.

      • radiofreewill says:

        I’m with you! The best thing – if and only if it’s True – that could happen at 8am this morning, would be for all the Dem Leadership, down to Committee Leaders, to hold a Press Conference and Strongly Re-Affirm their stand against Torture by Calling for an Independent/Special Prosecutor.

        And, then have Harman step-up and show her Letter of Objection, followed-by Rockefeller stepping-up and showing his Letter of Objection (I hope he’s got one for Torture), and whomever else contemporaneously Objected to Torture when it was presented to them, and then let Nancy reiterate her positon – that she wasn’t told Waterboarding had happened, or that it would be happening in the future – only that the OLC had drafted Memos saying EIT was Legal and could be used. After that, she wasn’t briefed again.

        Let Pelosi say, “And, if they had said that Waterboarding was happening, or going to happen, or heaven forbid if they asked my opinion on Waterboarding, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I would have Objected on the spot, just like my colleagues did.”

        So, a strong affirmation of Abhorrence of Torture on principle, a Call for an Independent/Special Prosecutor and personal testimonies of key players.

        The Honorable Judo move that keeps the Dems out of the Gooper cesspool and standing on principled ground, imvho, is having an independent arbiter of factual truth, shielded from the shouts of ideological mobs.

        So, let’s hope that Our Dems can Stand Up for Doing the Right Thing, even when they are accused by the Goopers of Complicity in Doing the Wrong Thing.

    • sadlyyes says:

      smells like a set up like Bolton and the Brooks Brothers riot in Miami…pay people to write in bullshit

    • cinnamonape says:

      Rockefeller needs to show that she was somewhere else at the time this meeting supposedly occurred…and fast. Pelosi needs to present her own contemporaneous notes…or relevant abstracts. Although she will need, unfortunately, to get them declassified. I’m wondering if she can show them to fellow Committee Members and they can vouch for their veracity.

      It seems very odd that the CIA would not have specifically mentioned by name that a high-profile Al Qaida internee had been water boarded ALREADY and that nobody at the initial briefing seems to recall that. That indicates to me that, just as Pelosi has argued, that the methods (and was water-boarding included) were presented as prospective. Furthermore, if you are going to argue “safety” and “effectiveness”why not specifically say “we’ve done this before, there are no issues in regards to the suspects health…and look at this wonderful information we got vs. what the FBI obtained”? If they wanted approval wouldn’t they have said this.

      Wouldn’t this have been something that all the members that were briefed recalled? It’s pretty dramatic and powerful.

      Well maybe not…if they would be directly lying to the committee members, and that they had already acted illegally.

    • MarilynSanAntone says:

      I read those comments in the WP and was surprised at the venom against Pelosi that characterized almost all of them. Whatever she did or didn’t do pales in comparison to the Machavelian actions of the true criminals… the Bush adm. torturers and liars.

      While I can see the necessity in having some state secrets, I believe the whole concept of classified data needs a do over. The crimes, the cover up, the lying were all part of an attempt to make the repugs look good..heroic..strong. Their best efforts were applied to hoodwink the nation and, therefore, to assure a second term.

      What I want is continued revelations building to a public crescendo…hopefully resulting in a special counsel (prosecutor) but a lasting stain on the Bush administration and all his cohorts.

  9. JohnJ says:

    I said when Pelosi’s and Reid’s incompetence started showing (almost immediately) remember; these two are survivors of a rethug run government, they are by no means effective or the best that the Democrates had to offer. Those effective Dems were run out or cheated out of office (i.e. Bob Graham) in order for the criminal enterprise to function properly. These two were intentionally left there for the purpose of looking like the government was run in a ”bipartisan” manner. That, and for what the repugs are using them for now; scape goats. Now, by virtue of their survival, they are senior members.

  10. Rayne says:

    Many more questions than answers now, and not just about ABC’s published piece.

    – Why ABC’s Rick Klein? Why’d he end up on point on this piece in “The Note” blog versus somebody else we may have seen doing more coverage of this issue in the past? The body of Klein’s work has been focused on Obama since the inauguration.

    – Why’d this get posted at 6:02 pm on the same day as the stress test results? It’s like a weak compromise between a Friday news dump and actually pushing a real story. (Did this make ABC’s evening national news?) Look at timing of other posts at The Note and related pages; why not earlier in the afternoon?

      • pmorlan says:

        Great timing.

        I hope their little play backfires on them and makes Democrats more committed to have investigations, not less.

        I was over at WaPo to see if the Kane story about this had changed since last night (WaPo does that all the time) when I saw this headline.

        Gonzo Goes (Back) to Washington

        The story is about the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

        Guess who’s coming to dinner? Well, the man who may be the biggest surprise guest at this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner isn’t exactly an international celebrity, or a sex symbol, or a man of power. In fact, he’s out of work, can’t find a new job and is wanted by human rights groups for war crimes.

    • LabDancer says:

      Ladies & gentlemen, your attention please: there are some changes to your program for this evening’s performance.

      The part of Mr Woodward will be played by Mr Jeb Babbin, something of a ‘blast from the deep dark past’ to those of you old enough to recall his debut in the role that pre-saged that of Douglas Feith as Deputy undersecretary at the DoD during the first Bush administration.

      The part of Mr Bernstein will be played by Mr Rick Klein, who recently experienced a meteoric emergence from prep school to briefly understudy and thereafter rise to succeed as chief gossip-monger at ABCNews’ The Note Mr Mark Halperin, then-as-now holding the quintessential bitch to all that is Matt Drudge.

      And you’ll be delighted to learn that, in something of a genre stretch, this evening Mr Halperin himself will be appearing in the role of Mr Ben Bradley.

      And finally, ladies and gentlemen, in what public organs as diverse as the New York Post and the Washington Times have styled “an inspired tour de force of type-casting”, appearing tonight in the role of Deep Throat will be an actual personal acquaintance of the original, indeed the entire original cast, Mr Dick Cheney.

    • klynn says:

      Just a reminder about Klein, he’s a Cheney guy…

      We all know about Hoestra…And that Porter Goss is tied to the Bushies quite a bit.

      Real trustworthy sourcing there ABC, including the messenger.

    • cinnamonape says:

      It seems to me that they (ABC) was hoping to float this below the radar so that there would not be kick-back on the report by members of Congress…but allow it to percolate through the right-wing blogosphere (note the mass of comments on the ABC web-site…that;’s an organized campaign).

      • Rayne says:

        As EW pointed out, the timing is easy (and thanks for that, didn’t realize she’d left for Jordan when I asked why 6:02 pm on a Thursday). Pelosi would be out of pocket, headed into a timezone which would make timely and effective response difficult.

        And yes, the right-wing Wurlitzer is engaged; just look at the difference between the volume and kind of comments Rick Klein’s post received versus the kind and volume other posts at ABC’s The Note blogs receive. Most of the time readers could give a shit about anything published there.

        Your (42) is important: ABC-Klein posted this piece in their blog, AND did not ask Pelosi for comment before publication. They’re using the blog as a rationalization for not doing the right thing; they may have contacted her spokesperson, but the nature of this piece clearly requires contemporaneous response from her, and they used a quote from April instead.

        klynn (27) — nice, thanks for point out Klein is Cheney’s boy. I suppose the old geezer liked the Tweet so much he bestowed the water-carrying privilege on Klein this time.

  11. klynn says:

    Scott Horton stated:

    SH: I guess the message here is that the American people are just not responsible enough to maintain a world empire, because the incentive for the leaders of every other country to exert extraordinary influence in order to try to influence this empire apparently outmatches the American people every time.

    The April 23, 2009 interview was about the Harmon issue, but it might as well have been about this leak…

    If you have not read the transcript, I recommend it. Horton did a great job. The interview is with Philip Giraldi.

  12. i4u2bi says:

    The Republicans and counterpart (R. CIA ) demand that in the final that ABC will not fail them…an offer they can not refuse.

  13. Mary says:

    I have to say that I don’t buy Pelosi as an innocent babe, bc there may be some holey and not quite holy documentation and if you are going to point out the CIA’s need for cya, it’s only fair to mention that Rockefeller, Pelosi and for that matter Shelby et al also have a lot of reasons to want to cover their own assess and Rockefeller had a lot of ability to direct the SSCI, so while it’s a very helpful report, it’s not unbiased either.

    The fact that so many staffers were involved at various points (and remember that we were originally made to think that staffers were NOT involved in briefings) will make it more interesting and of course they all have their own agendas now – most of which involves pleasing various members of Congress or political parties more so than pleasing the CIA.

    Republican hit job, CIA hit job, joint or overlapping efforts notwithstanding – not to chanel Goss but I have to say I’m slack jawed too at the submission that Pelosi is being briefed on all the enhanced techniques being authorized by legal opinion and
    a) didn’t specifically ask if they were being used unless she *knew* but didn’t want to “know”;
    b) didn’t realize that they would be used;
    c) didn’t request or require or demand continued briefings and paper a request for continued briefings (iow, even if you buy her story that she was only told what the CIA could do, not what they were doing, why wouldn’t she request to be kept briefed?);
    d) as she became speaker, and the staffer (Sheehy) who was present during both her briefing and the briefing with Harman (who apparently did make some objections and papered them) moved onto her staff (convenient that, eh?) she didn’t make a request under the NSA requirements to continue to be briefed and for the Gang of 8 to be briefed


    Whether you can parse around or not on what words were used and by whom, I think it’s disingenuous to approach this as “there may not be contemporaneous paperwork as evidence of Pelosi being briefed on the application of waterboarding other than the legalized authority to apply waterboarding” as if that makes a real, substantive and substantial difference.

    What we know is that, when Abu Ghraib came up, Nancy Pelosi had been briefed that things like sleep deprivations, forced nudity, stress positions, etc. had all been RESEARCHED AND DEEMED LEGAL by the Bush administration. We know she had absolute immunity for anything said on the floor. We know she stepped into the role as ranking minority member knowing about the legalized torture options and didn’t make requests for other briefings. We know that as the information from “sources” was being trotted out for the war – she knew that those sources could have been legally tortured and didn’t make inquiries or push. We know that as Jose Padilla was being disappeared into a military brig, shen knew about legalized torture options for both the sources on his material witness warrant and for him.

    She’s like the mom who offers up her daughter for the step dad to rape. Proving that there is one particular fact or circumstance that may not be able to be nailed down past a he said she said aspect doesn’t do anything to relieve her of her overall responsibility.

    And when you put it all in context of how hard she fought against every having any accountability for Bush, impeachment going off the table and subpoenas being shrugged off, it makes one “side” of the story more believable than the other imo. And now she can adopt whatever pretense she wants on investigations bc she knows that Obama has her back and Reid’s Senate is dysfunctional for anything other than advancing corporate and republican party intersts.

  14. CalGeorge says:

    Pelosi knew that waterboarding had been cleared for use.

    She did not raise objections. She did not write a letter to the C.I.A., as Harman did.

    Pelosi’s response was totally inadequate.

  15. Knut says:

    Here’s what I think about the politics of it (I am utterly unqualified to work through the grubby details of the events in question). Pelosi is a pro, and a survivor of rethug attacks. She won’t take this one lying down or backing off. She and her colleagues know exactly what Porter Goss et all are up to. She and they hold more cards than Porter. Panetta will give her a surrepticious helping hand. This is not going to get traction because the only people with whom it can get traction are the diminishing band of Goopers. They are still partying like it was 2005. The Independents are not going to budge, and the 30 percenters were never going to budge. For all Fred Hyatt’s hoping it isn’t so, it is so. WaPo can suck it, and so can ABC, because this dog is not going to hunt.

    • Dalybean says:

      It’s not just Republicans who are after Pelosi. The AIPAC crowd is after her too and is amplifying the message in order to force her to support draconian sanctions on Iran.

  16. Mary says:

    As an aide – notice that in Holder’s recent testimony to Congress (I linked somewhere to a legal times articel on it) the Republicans were making sure Holder had to answer to his involvement in Clinton era extraordinary renditions. They are using all kinds of threats and innuendos to clamp it all down and the telling part is that … Dems are letting them. I’d trend towards that meaning that the Dems don’t want the fallout bc they know what they did and didn’t do and that THEIR constituents might actually give a damn.

  17. rapt says:

    ABC. The occasion that has become one with those three letters in my mind is the celebration several years ago of JFK assassination anniversary. Many here should remember it. ABC set up its (outgoing?) evening news anchor to show some selected Zapruder footage while swearing up and down (repeatedly for emphasis) that “”there was ONE SHOOTER, you hear me? ONE SHOOTER, and here it is – we’ve proven it in black and white. So the case is closed, you hear me? NO MORE ARGUMENT.”"

    That was the point at which I knew for a fact that media was in the pocket of the assassination squad, so-to-speak. But especially ABC, and so ever after, anything broadcast by that network is automatically a lie (to me).

    Somebody remind me of that news anchor’s name please. I had liked him until that point, and I feel that he was forced on pain of death or something to read the script. He died of cancer not too long afterwards.

  18. cinnamonape says:

    Great…in fact, AWESOME…analysis, Marci!

    This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFRs completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals.

    So why doesn’t the CIA distinguish between contemporary records, and give date and some indication of authorship of who took them [whether CTC (Counterterrorism), DCI (Director), DDCI (Deputy Director), OGC (General Counsel)] and post-hoc reminiscences of the events, the dates those were compiled and who made them?

    These should be separable, as, we are all aware, subsequent meetings can be convoluted with earlier ones…or motivations for recollecting specific individuals being in attendance can also be misremembered. It seems incredible to me that the specific members in attendance at briefings, and the agenda of that meeting, are not FORMALLY documented. Conversations I could see being held in contemporary notes. But something as important as an objection or approval from a particular Congressional representative would, I would think, be formally memorialized by name at the time.

    And why was the memo offered up to ABC without comment or imput from the members of Congress? Even the writers of the torture memos got an opportunity to respond to the OLC Report before public release?

    That dropping off of the footnote about Jello Jay’s later briefing by ABC is particularly egregious on ABC’s part. It brings into doubt their whole claim.

  19. joelmael says:

    1118 have contributed to support Marcy’s work according to the thermometer on the upper right.

    Less than halfway to $150K.

    I haven’t done any automatic political donations. If not now, when?

  20. drational says:

    This is critical analysis, Marcy.
    Much like I believe it was the anti-wiretapping left that was the target of the Harman leak (Glenn was happy to oblige), I believe it is the anti-torture left that is the target of this one. They want us to rage against the “complicit” dems to try to evade their own responsibility. This post and Greg’s diffuses this.

    • Mary says:

      Well I do rage at the complicit Dems, but I don’t think that it is anything new or that their complicity hasn’t been out there for everyone to see for a long time, without CIA/Republican leaks and manipulation.

      It’s why people could work their butts off in 2006 and end up with Pelosi saying impeachment was off the table. That SHOULD cause you to rage at the Dems IMO. It’s one thing to be up front torture enablers – it’s even more disgusting to offer the pretense that you are the party of change and respect for the law when all you want are feet on the ground, contributions, a whole cadre of people watching their back — while they have no intention of doing anything. It’s kind of the difference between having a non-exclusive boyfriend sleep around on you over and over vs. having your husband sneak off and just have a limited involvement with a few other women and only father, oh, hey, one or two children with them.

      Quantity aside, one is a much worse betrayal than the other and it damn well should make you mad imo.

      • drational says:

        Rage is appropriate, but not when it is stirred up with lies in a deliberate plot to create distractions.
        I think Harman and Pelosi both suck ass, but we have the torture architects on the ropes and they are telling us to look at the pony over there.

        We can turn the pony into glue after the real facts come out. I want the bandit who was riding it.

        • Rayne says:

          Yes. These two people have been picked for their roles and abilities to be compromised – including our ability to be angry with them. They’re using different tacks on each, but they knew when they picked them and briefed them that they may need to do EXACTLY what they are doing to them right now.

          We’re only closing the loop on something the torture team set in motion eight years ago. And I detest being used without my express permission.

          • TheraP says:

            Boy, I like that take on it. It’s annoying when someone tries to manipulate us. That burns me too! And maybe that’s the way to attack it. To turn it back on them as manipulation.

            As far as I’m concerned, this whole torture issue calls for restraint of rage – and channeling of it into action. That’s exactly why we’re calling for a Special Prosecutor (some of us anyway). This all needs to be investigated. Seems to me the leadership should be saying: That’s an investigation we welcome.

            I certainly welcome one! Wherever it leads! We live by the Rule of Law. The repubs seem to imagine we’re just on a witch hunt here. All I’m after is restoration of the Rule of Law. And I’m channeling any rage into that quest, rather than just giving vent to it. Venting just leads to blow-back; then they call us crazy again!

        • Mary says:

          How is that you think you have the torture architects “on the ropes”

          That special prosecutor that Holder appointed?

          I think the much bigger problem is parsing out the issue of whether Pelosi was told that the CIA was actually waterboarding people as being hugely more important than whether Pelosi was admittedly told that the CIA had legal authority to not only go out and waterboard, but to slam people’s heads into walls, disappear them to black sites, hold them stripped in on diet of Ensure and tied in stress positions while subjecting them to hypothermia etc.

          Exactly what is it that you think makes it “different” if she was told, in addition to being told that the CIA was legally authorized to do all those things, that they were actually engaging in waterboarding? How does that change the equation on your end? Bc on my end it doesn’t change it much.

          As I started to list out at 36 above, whether she was told that they were actually engaging in waterboarding or only that they were legally authorized to engage in it and a long list of other things, the issues are still basically the same, it doesn’t change things the big picture on what she should have done and didn’t do.

          Why in the world wouldn’t she ASK if they techniques were being used? Why didn’t she follow up with requests for additional briefings on the techniques? As “sourcing” was being used to sell the war, why didn’t she ask if the sourcing came from torture EIT techniques and to get briefings on that? Was she told about FBI objections? When she became ranking member and was off the Intel Committee, why didn’t she request addtional briefing as required by the NSA? Why has NO ONE so far mentioned the NSA documentation that should have accompanied the briefings, including a PResidential finding or a LEAST a Presidential statement as to why less than the Intell commmittee was being briefed? What did those statements say? If they weren’t provided, why weren’t they demanded? Why did she sit silent through Abu Ghraib and not make any on the floor protected statement demanding that classified briefings given to her when she was on Intel be made available to other Senate Committees investigating Abu Ghraib – why didn’t she push to support Taguba in his press for the investigation to be opened up into MI instead of just MP?

          On and on and on and those issues and equations are not much changed by the parsing of whether she was told that waterboarding was taking place or that it legally could take place. To me, it’s like listening to the Bush supporters each time a new revelation about WMDs would come out and they would cling to some minor difference or element or discrepancy in something that the Dems or a witness said – things that could be highlighted as being “wrong” but which didn’t really affect the equation.

          I don’t see how Pelosi being told that the President was claiming the legal right to torture put her in a substantially different place thatn being told that he claimed that right and had started to engage in it. At a minimum, once she was told he claimed the right, she had a duty to press to find out if he was exercising it – no record on her doing that. And and a minimum, when Abu Ghraib came out and soldiers were being put on the line for engaging in the same activities that she had been briefed the President was claiming were “legal” she had a duty to do a hell of a lot more than she did.

          I’m not completely unsellable, but no one has sold me on the huge overweaning significance of the point and IMO the problem is exactly the opposite of what you see. Pelosi is the one doing the distracting – get everyone overobsessed with the specific issue of whether there is “beyond a reasonable doubt” hard evidence that she was briefed on Zubaydah actually having been already waterboarded and with that bright shiney, no one asks all the other questions that you might normally ask about Pelosi being briefed on the President claiming the right to take SUSPECTs and engage in torture programs and what she didn’t do with that info over the ensuing 6 years.

          For me, it’s not either or. It’s not Yoo or Bradbury (one must be a good guy if the other one is a bad guy) It’s not Rice or Rumsfeld (one must be a good guy if the other one is a bad guy); it’s not Bush or Cheney (one must be a good guy if the other one is a bad guy); it’s not Republicans or Democrats (one must be a good guy if the other one is a bad guy).

          You look at what they each did and didn’t do. It’s no wonder Pelosi kicked impeachment off the table – her own plate was so full she needed all the table space she could get. That’s not the same as saying that hers was the most full, or more full than others, but it’s just blind to not see what she did have on her plate bc she keeps pointing to the one thing that she may not have on it.

          • TheraP says:

            Where are the leaders willing to put themselves on the line? I think that’s the issue. Where are the people willing to say, “It matters not to me if I too am investigated. Because it is my duty to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

            We need a few. A few people, whose loyalty to the Constitution overrides their own personal position.

            To me it’s that simple!

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          we have the torture architects on the ropes and they are telling us to look at the pony over there

          I recall that before the period in which Fitz was expected to take some legal action, the Rovian machine and GOP network put out Armitage’s name as a deceptive way to claim that Armitage had first leaked Plame’s identity (to Woodward), and that as a result Scooter Libby was somehow absolved of the Plame Leak.

          This sure looks like a somewhat similar move on the part of the wingnuts and their handlers. Find someone else to use as a public figure to hide yourself behind and make it appear that THEY — not you! — are somehow ‘guilty’.

          This is a redux, with Pelosi as the BrightShinyObjectGettingSmeared as a distractor.
          Which suggests they’re scared shitless. (mwhwhwaahahahahaha…;8^))))

          Also, recall that last July, JOE Klein of TIME finally called bullshit on having been repeatedly bullied (and lied to) by GOP ’strategeryists’, who had tried to get him fired from TIME because he wasn’t walking the neocon-wingnut line. (He wrote about it here.)

          Jim Lobe of IPS gave background of that very interesting little dustup here.
          TPM gave more background here.

          I’m with drational.
          I think that the guilty parties are really getting nervous and seriously scared, and they’re trying to get out in front of the photos and other developments that will shortly be forthcoming — including Zelikow’s testimony next week.

          TheraP @51: excellent suggestion.
          You’re looking for someone skilled in informatics, the way that I read your comment.

          • TheraP says:

            Yes, I think you’re right about that – the informatics. And that’s not me. I will do my part. I am in this for the long haul. I have no personal stake in any of it (except as a citizen). Or fear of these folks. It’s a duty as I view it. So I’m being pulled into this. And I want to do my part. And enlist help. (We could get various groups going on this, I think. I’ve got my folks at TPM Cafe who might sign on as well.)

            I am 100% with you in the view that these folks are running scared now! They are doing what they can to try and influence public opinion at home. But the real trump card, as I see it, is abroad. The Spanish cases. The Polish prosecutor. EU is doing something as I understand it. And it’s not just high up. People are enraged.

            Your psychological reading of the tea leaves is right on!

  21. TheraP says:

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread. But it occurs to me that what’s needed, and could be done by someone in this group and posted along the side with the timelines, is a sort of flow chart, showing which journalists are in the pocket of whom. It could act as a sort of guide to who to trust – or not. And for what reasons. It might make a very interesting chart (with little circles and lines between the players and the “journalists”). Not only that, it might put certain journalists on notice. For once you’ve got your chart, it might go viral. Or it would certainly attract traffic here.

    I may repost this idea on another thread, if it’s pertinent.

    (Or does such nice handy chart already exist?)

    On second thought, several charts. One for legal reporting (now why would I say that?!) And I’m not sure what the other categories might be.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh, I like that idea! We could put it up at Oxdown with new content from time to time.

      Are you game for collaboration? Anybody else want in?

      After a sleepless night like last night, I’d rather have a “media guide” at the ready than try to reinvent the wheel on who’s-who in media.

      • TheraP says:

        I can help a some. I rarely watch TV (don’t have cable), so can’t help on that one. But if we get a large group doing this. And then we can check on articles or you tube info. And whatever can be done to trace suspected “sources” or “minders”. One corporation (abc) is already being questioned on this very thread.

        Jan Crawford Greenburg comes to mind, with her couple of posts that are already being questioned (one about the “impossibility” of disbarment), which someone sent me last night:…..iming.html

        I read down the comments and already in the comments some are questioning her reading of the regulations she cites and pointing out that there are a lot of questions about her post at the Volokh Conspiracy. So I went over and read that thread too. There’s a lot there.

        Then of course we have Jeffrey Rosen. No need to point that out!

        But who’s pulling the strings behind those two?

        Others here are knowledgeable about different writers in different areas. I don’t see this as an effort to defame. But a carefully sourced, deliberative, and documented effort. With a nice neat set of charts! It would be so helpful! Think how google would love it!

        But this is like cutting off the conduits that the players are using – or at least exposing that. It’s so clear to me that they are doing this. And when you see a flurry of activity – all related to pooh-poohing the torture or any accountability for the torture. Or trying to say Dems knew about it too.

        There are so many heads to this Hydra! And we need to go after them. The Principals and designers and those who authorized it. Together with the reporters who are endorsing it and in effect trying to obstruct justice.

        I think it needs to be an effort of many people. But I am certainly willing to assist. Because I’m both steamed and galvanized here!

        I’ve got time. I’ve got energy. And I want my Rule of Law back!

        • TheraP says:

          Not sure why. But I’ve gotten 2 delivery status notification failures, sending to that address. You may have blocked anyone but certain folks. If so, I’m with the “research” part. And will await further notification.

  22. Fredfighter says:

    People in the media need to realize that our opposition to torture is
    motivated by patriotism, morality, and law, not politics.

    It matters not one whit whom the torturers briefed on their crimes.

    If there is evidence that Pelosi was a co-conspirator, prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Thank you.

      By posing every single ‘issue’ or ‘controversy’ or ‘question’ AS IF it is some kind of knock-down, drag out blue-red fight!-fight!-fight!!, the media miss a lot of good info.

      And they breed cynicism that prevents problem solving.
      I know people with whom I differ greatly on a whole lot of social topics, but this issue really crosses conventional political lines IMHO.

      And fundamentally, what the GOP is succeeding in doing is — on the one hand, claiming that they’re strong supporters of the military. OTOH, they claim that anyone who investigates torture is 100% politically motivated by partisan objectives.

      That’s not only missing the picture, it’s playing straight into the narrative that Cheney, Rove, et al want — they want this framed as if any investigation is totally about partisan politics.


      Are there rules in war?
      If so, what are they?
      Because AQ is claiming that ‘everyone’ is a combatant — even 2 month old babies and grandparents. So it’s a ‘total war’, just like 3,000 BC — because those ratf*ckers refuse to distinguish between soldiers and civilians. Which is what guerillas do.

      The US military has been jeopardized by these torture policies, which were made by CIVIILAN appointees, and by CIVILIAN DoJ attorneys. And those non-military actors made decisions that place US military service members at far greater risk than they needed to be.

      That’s what this should be about — can a President basically sabotage the military?!!
      Can a President appoint people to subvert the time-honored rules of the US military?!

      Damn, the one person that I most respect at this moment is Moro, and also Karpinski because at least she gives a damn about how the people placed under her command were totally sold out by a cabal of politically appointed civilians.

      There are badass, evil people in this world.
      No nation is able to do good in the world if they don’t have a military that can fend off trouble.
      But damaging the military by allowing political appointees to subvert is treasonous.

      You’d think the US press could pull their heads out of their asses long enough to figure that out. So far, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and the McClatchy folks seem to be able to figure it out; you’d think more in the press would catch on.

      Okay, rant over…

      • TheraP says:

        Plus, from what we can see now, as laid out so well on this thread (here and above), is that the military is the force that saved us from a total take-over by the treasonous criminals of the previous badministration:

        When the dust finally settles, I think We’ll find that the Republic was Saved because the Uniformed Military stood their ground and defended the Geneva Conventions against Bush’s Ideology-Over-the-Rule-of-Law assault – and that, ultimately, when Bush lost the support of the Military, he was left the Omnipotent UE in name only – no longer able to back up any threats to suspend the Congress and place the Country under Martial Law in his Phony War on Terror.

  23. Mary says:

    58- and Pelosi is now saying something like that, but she didn’t until Obama made it clear that he would play point on blocking the investigations to make it safe for her to posture.

    • TheraP says:

      Hate to say it, but they’ve been a bit off their game of late. Not sure why. Maybe trying to cover too much. Thereby losing the thread of the most important story of our time. Breaks my heart actually. As so many people who post here I first me over there. EW is currently the best game in town, when it comes to this topic. *imvho*

  24. nadezhda says:

    We now have at least a partial response from Rockefeller in an email response to Zach Roth at TPM (see 2nd update to TPMMuckraker post):

    Sen. Rockefeller’s office emails the following statement:

    enator Rockefeller was briefed but was not presented with the full picture nor was he told critical information that would have cast significant doubt on the program’s legality and effectiveness. Senator Rockefeller became increasingly concerned about the program, and in early 2005 he launched a full-scale effort to investigate. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s review is ongoing and he believes it is critically important that there be a full accounting of the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies.

    Rockefeller still isn’t specifying when he was first briefed. In his email he doesn’t specifically dispute the CIA memo’s apparent claim in the asterisk that he received, at some later date, the same (full?) briefing as Roberts did on Feb 2 2003. However, Rockefeller does look to be suggesting in today’s email that the implication of the CIA memo — that is, that he was fully briefed in early 2003 — is erroneous.

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