May 18, 2009 / by emptywheel


WaPo’s Partisan Press Release Service

The front page of the WaPo website features what amounts to a press release from John Boehner, attempting to continue blaming Nancy Pelosi because Dick Cheney tortured.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "ought to either present the evidence or apologize’" in the wake of her comments that CIA officials misled her about the use of controversial interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects.

"Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime," Boehner said yesterday on CNN’s "State of the Union." "And if the speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department so they can be prosecuted."

He added: "And if that’s not the case, I think she ought to apologize to our intelligence professionals around the world."

The story doesn’t report that two out of three of the other members of Congress who were "briefed" in September 2002 (including the hyper-anal Bob Graham) back Pelosi’s claim. Here’s Graham:

The CIA when I asked them, what were the dates these briefings took place, gave me four dates. And I went back to my spiral notebooks and a daily schedule that I keep and found, and the CIA concurred, that in three of those four dates, there was no briefing held. That raises some questions about the bookkeeping of the CIA. Under the rules of clandestine information, I was prohibited from keeping notes of what was actually said during that briefing other than a brief summation that it had to do with the interrogation of detainees.

And here’s Goss, speaking of the torture techniques prospectively (and therefore revealing that he was not briefed they had already been used, which is precisely what Pelosi has claimed):

the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed

And for good measure, here’s Jello Jay, pointing out that the CIA also got its briefing schedule wrong with him, as they did with Graham.

As for Richard Shelby, it took him two tries to make the assertion that CIA briefed them fully, having first left all discussion of timing out of his description.

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.

And only then claimed CIA told them the techniques had already been used.

To Senator Shelby’s recollection of the Senate briefing, waterboarding was one the EITs the CIA said it had used.

So we’ve got three people who side with Pelosi and only one refuting it–and in two of those cases, the CIA admitted they had erred! But the WaPo prints Boehner’s challenge uncritically without pointing out that Boehner has no fucking idea what went on in the briefings, and that the people who do, generally side with Pelosi.

But then it gets worse. The WaPo appears not to understand what Pelosi’s claims are (which is that she was not told the techniques briefed had already been used).

The CIA says its records show Pelosi was briefed on the tactics in 2002, which the speaker has adamantly denied.

And claims Panetta–in a statement that once again reaffirmed Congress’ role in determining precisely what went on in the briefings–rebutted Pelosi.

an assertion that CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic congressman from California, rebutted on Friday

Finally, the WaPo lets the Boehner suggest that Pelosi accused all CIA officers, rather than the four who briefed her on September 4, 2002, of misleading Congress.

All in all, a pretty signature piece of hackery. But I’m sure it was cheap to produce.

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