Issa: Waaahhhh! Dems All Reminding Us of Lies CIA Told in 2002!

Here’s Darrell Issa, in the process of getting schooled by Tweety, who called him on his grandstanding attempt to get the FBI to investigate Nancy Pelosi’s allegation that the CIA led to her on September 4, 2002. (Somehow, neither Issa nor Tweety seem interested in the fact that Porter Goss’ statements, to date, support Pelosi’s contention that CIA didn’t tell Congress waterboarding had already been used before they were briefed.)

But I’m more interested in the attention that Issa pays to a much more inflammatory accusation that Paul Kanjorski has made. In his effort to suggest all the Democrats are beating up on CIA, Issa notes that Paul Kanjorski says "he was lied to a week later."

It appears that Issa is not saying that Kanjorski was lied to in recent days (a week after Pelosi made the claim), but rather that Kanjorski says he was lied to in the week after September 4, 2002. Which seems to be this accusation.

In a town hall meeting in Bloomsburg, Pa. this week [leading up to September 3, 2007], Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a 12-term congressman, said that shortly before Congress was scheduled to vote on authorizing military force against Iraq, top officials of the CIA showed select members of Congress three photographs it alleged were Iraqi Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones. Kanjorski said he was told that the drones were capable of carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical agents, and could strike 1,000 miles inland of east coast or west coast cities.

Kanjorski said he and four or five other congressmen in the room were told UAVs could be on freighters headed to the U.S. Both secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and President Bush wandered into and out of the briefing room, Kanjorski said.

Kanjorski said it was the second time he was called to the White House for a briefing. He had opposed giving the President the powers to go to war, and said that he hadn’t changed his mind after a first meeting. Until he saw the pictures, Kanjorski said, "I hadn’t thought that Iraq was a threat." That second meeting changed everything. After he left that meeting, said Kanjorski, he was willing to give the President the authorization he wanted since the drones "represented an imminent danger."


Several years later, Kanjorski said he learned that the pictures were "a god-damned lie," apparently taken by CIA photographers in the desert in the southwest of the U.S. The drone story itself had already been disproved, although not many major media carried that story. [my emphasis]

Issa’s caught up in trying to smear Pelosi, yet he’s unconcerned by the allegation that the CIA went out to the desert and trumped up some "Iraq UAV" pictures? Really? Or perhaps he thinks Paul Kanjorski has turned into a nutter? 

Because this allegation–which I’m not sure I had seen before–suggests the CIA was doing far more than trying to hide the fact they hadn’t given Congress notice of torture in timely fashion. Kanjorski’s saying that the week after CIA lied to Pelosi about torture, they showed him and others clearly false materials to persuade them to vote for Bush’s Iraq war.

I’ve noted before that Democrats seem to be saying the ties between the lies about torture and the lies about Iraq are one and the same. Is that what Kanjorski is saying?

30 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    I want to see this boomerang on the Republicans and establish the need for investigations, including prosecution of any Intelligence staff (or Congresspersons) who committed a crime.

    Bob in HI

  2. MadDog says:

    Dagnabbit EW, your post prolificacy has my head spinning! *g*

    Meanwhile back at your CIA log post, I wondered about some “curiosities” in that log.

    And wrt this post, I wonder if you’ve heard anymore from Joe and Valerie Wilson?

    Twould seem that the more rocks that are turned over, the tighter the connection between Valerie’s betrayal, torture and the Iraq war.

    • R.H. Green says:

      I left an EPU question for you on the earlier thread titled April 13th (and lots of other dates). Please note.

  3. LabDancer says:

    I hope my life never comes down to whether I can beat emptywheel in a puzzle solving contest.

    • freepatriot says:

      I hope my life never comes down to whether I can beat emptywheel in a puzzle solving contest


      I’m hoping it comes down to arm wrestling or basketball myself …

      I can’t go to my left, or make a layup to save my, er, life, but I got about 4 inches of height advantage over ew, and more advantage in wingspan, so I figure basketball is safe

      an I never lost an arm wresling match to a member of the opposite gender

      jus in case the book makers need some info before they post the odds

      did I mention that i smoke, well, they say it’s as bad as tobacco never mind

      • emptywheel says:

        Ut oh. Make sure you ask bmaz about my high school hoops class, where I was the one upper class girl in the class and had to routinely play with guys from the County Champion Varsity hoops class. One of those guys has a handful of NBA Champion rings, too (though Michael Jordan did most of the work for them).

        • freepatriot says:

          first off, nobody said YOUR life was on the line here, so cut me some slack, okay

          One of those guys has a handful of NBA Champion rings, too (though Michael Jordan did most of the work for them).

          Jordan did most of the work ???

          so he dint play for Detroit ???

          cuz I play “Detroit” style*

          no autopsy = no foul

          *well, everybody used to play D in Detroit, except for bill “king of the FLOP” lambier anyway

          trust me, you will not fly (unless, you know, I want you to fly)

          don’t worry, I’ll go easy on ya, so try to make it look real, okay

          now that I think about it, with all that typin you do, you prolly got hella strong wrists too, right ???

          so I still choose basketball


          • LabDancer says:

            See, what with King Labron waltzing through the NBA intramurals, I’m starting to think this is a match up I’d like to see.

            [p.s.f.f.e.o.* I genuflect at your prudence for going with hoops over sleuthing with this one; but I’m still not sure where I’m putting the nestegg.]

            *post script for freep eyes only

  4. solai says:

    I definitely never heard that story before. Not to say I know everything but a story like that would stand out.

  5. freepatriot says:

    I kinda agree with darrel

    don’t wake me until you catch the CIA telling the TRUTH

    when that happens, you can bring it up, ti then, uh what ???

    what do you mean, that ain’t what he said ???

    he’s Defending the cia, and trying to act like they don’t lie ???

    well then, that’s different

    who gives a shit what he thinks


  6. prostratedragon says:

    Don’t recall Kanjorski in this by name, and can’t say for sure about fake photos taken in the desert; that kind of talk was around a lot at one point, but don’t know if it was ever more than rumor before.

    Happen to be getting into Hoodwinked at last. Prados outlines the campaign to get that Sept. 2002 authorization by means of hyping the Iraq threat, and in what he calls The Setup, the UAVs take a star turn. I’m in that chapter now, and will certainly get back with anything of interest.

  7. behindthefall says:

    The “drone” story 43 tried to sell in his SOTU Address caught my attention more at the time than the Niger yellowcake story did, because I had just read Aviation Week & Space Tech. mag’s article on the Iraqi UAV program, and it was clear that they were refitting planes that use long runways, not any craft that could clear the deck of an aircraft carrier, never mind a freighter or tanker. Besides, they were able to fly racetrack patterns and land the thing, but not much else; not what you’d call a capable weapons system.

    So, the CIA was trying to bootstrap that tottering program into some bogeyman, too? What part of the CIA was that, exactly? Team B? That in itself tells me that the CIA is not monolithic and that someone was using CIA cred, such as it might be, to sell a scare story. (Which was definitely what Bush was trying to do in his speech.) (I turned the TV off and left the room before he had finished trying his luck with the Niger scam, the con artist.)

  8. Muzzy says:


    I’ve noted before that Democrats seem to be saying the ties between the lies about torture and the lies about Iraq are one and the same. Is that what Kanjorski is saying?

    A snippet of the Prados book review prostratedragon links above sums it up :

    “As these CIA reports, Pentagon briefings, and other materials clearly show, Bush and his spokespeople were playing a crude game of three-card monte, claiming Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction, and imminent threats, which are here exposed as half-truths, exaggerations, and outright fabrications of a war-mongering administration.”

    Re #13:

    “So, the CIA was trying to bootstrap that tottering program into some bogeyman, too? What part of the CIA was that, exactly? Team B? That in itself tells me that the CIA is not monolithic and that someone was using CIA cred, such as it might be, to sell a scare story.”

    Scooter and Dick spent an amount of time in person at CIA headquarters that was unprecedented for a Veep. It certainly makes for airtight lines of communication and planning. Who the hell did they have separated and cooperating apart from the institutional flock ? One can almost imagine tracing their steps in the the hallways.

  9. phred says:

    Thanks for this post EW. This is the first I have heard of the Kanjorski story. What I am most struck by though is the ability of the Rethugs to hang themselves. They are the ones making a big stink to try to make Pelosi look bad on the basis of a crappy CIA document. Did it never occur to them how badly that could backfire if the doc was any less than 100% truthful and squeaky clean? Do you think nobody bothered to tell Issa and Boehner and the rest that they are defending a boatload of lies and that it will come back to bite them in the end? During Watergate, Congressional Republicans had to tell Nixon to go in order to save themselves. At what point does self-interest kick in for the likes of Issa?

    • LabDancer says:

      I watched the whole clip at msnbc, and I think Issa still left himself wiggle room; but as to Newt? That’ll be one grotesquely overfed camel being bulldozed through one teeny tiny needle eye.

  10. PJEvans says:

    Did it never occur to them how badly that could backfire if the doc was any less than 100% truthful and squeaky clean?

    They thought they’d never be called on those lies; they’d have complete control of the US and the news media for the foreseeable future.

  11. Professor Foland says:

    Kanjorski said he learned that the pictures were “a god-damned lie,” apparently taken by CIA photographers in the desert in the southwest of the U.S.

    If that’s not a domestic propaganda operation, I don’t know what is.

    • selise says:

      If that’s not a domestic propaganda operation, I don’t know what is.

      marketing? pr?

      i guess my point is that there is a history of outrageous lies in support of war, and congress critters ought to be a little skeptical.

  12. prostratedragon says:

    Two paragraphs from Prados’s book Hoodwinked that bear somewhat on the Kanjorski accusation. The first one validates that during early Sept. 2002, briefings were flying thick and fast as apparently it was slowly dawning on the geniuses in the Executive branch that they might actually have to put up some kind of case to get any political cover at all. Note how arrangements are made that would impede any attempt by legislators attending different briefings to share information, as well as impeding information flow to the public as Prados says.

    Consultation with Congress brought the administration into further contact with these views [that they had not made an acceptable factual case for war with Iraq]. Demands for more specific data resulted in a top-secret briefing for the four most senior members of Congress on September 5 by CIA Director George Tenet. White House concern was evident in the fact that Vice President Richard Cheney attended as well, and both Cheney and Tenet joined Secretary Rumsfeld the next morning when a larger group of twenty-five senators were given a breakfast briefing on weapons proliferation issues. There were private briefings as well, such as of friendly Democratic leader Richard Gephardt by Tenet on September 13 and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) by Condi Rice and Tenet that same week. But there was a clear effort to stifle any flow of information to the public —members of Congress who attended briefings were asked to sign special secrecy agreements. [pp. 32–33]

    The second ¶ describes Sen. Bill Nelson’s reaction, similar to that of Kanjorski, on finding out how bogus the drone claim was; Nelson had been in a group briefing on them in October, just before the vote on the AUMF. Prados does some figuring that suggests that in this round it might have been either Director Tenet or Secretary Rumsfeld with the clicker in the conference room:

    Next to the biological claim as a hair-raiser stands the specter of Iraqi drones attacking the continental United States. This was not merely a claim made in the CIA white paper. According to Florida Senator Bill Nelson, speaking to home state journalists in late 2003, a drone attack on the American homeland figured as a prime feature of an intelligence briefing given to a large group of legislators on Capitol Hill before the vote on the war resolution. Nelson repeated this charge on the floor of the Senate in January 2004: “I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States.” Although Senator Nelson declined to specify the exact date of the briefing or who from the Bush administration participated, CIA Director George Tenet is known to have met with legislators on October 3, 2002, and to have been at a large congressional briefing with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld a couple of days later. We know from public complaints made by Senator Tom Daschle in December 2002 that no intelligence briefings occurred between then and mid-December. Thus one of these two meetings had to have been the occasion when the attack on the continental United States was emphasized. Meanwhile Senator Nelson, a former astronaut, is a sophisticate on matters of technology and could hardly have mistaken a claim about a drone threat against the United States for some other point made by CIA briefers. [pp. 106–107]

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Hi, newbie. Has anyone gone back to Bob Graham’s WaPo op-ed from 2005, What I Knew Before the Invasion?…..02397.html

      In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq — a war more than a year away.

      At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

      He goes on to say that he overruled Tenet’s objections to producing an NIE, and 3 weeks later there was a classified 90-page NIE with the scare WMD stories as well as “vigorous dissents,” which Graham thought the American people needed to see. But the unclassified 25-page version left out the dissents. Based on everything he knew, he voted no on the AUMF. Clearly the Bush administration and the CIA mislead Congress and us.

      • bmaz says:

        Hi there, and welcome to Emptywheel. Good comment, please join us and comment often. I edited your comment to remove the parentheses so as to make the URL you left an active link. Look forward to seeing you around.

      • klynn says:

        The Graham Op-ed has been key in the back of my mind as I listen to Graham in his interviews the last few weeks regarding his “briefing” on torture- or rather the lack of such. Graham will be a big key to this puzzle.

        Welcome and thanks for posting a great comment.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Thank you so much. I’ve been glad to see such good minds and hearts working together here so well and so long. You all are amazing.

  13. thatvisionthing says:

    Thanks, I’m having trouble with the link button.

    Meant to add one more thing, about the timelines. Philippe Sands’ book The Torture Team has a chronology of events at the back of the book — just a few pages, but a quick check shows it has some events not listed in EW’s.

    Thank you again for your kind welcome. I have to say I know I can’t keep up here, I’ve been reading what I can for a while…you have an amazing crew here, bloggers and commenters all. I’ve been posting over at Daily Kos and am really disheartened by the recent banning there by Kos himself of someone whose infraction seems nonexistent to me. Are people allowed to mistrust 9/11 here? That’s the craziest thing to me, not being able to wonder out loud if that which has been used to justify every subordinate lie and crime is not itself a Big Lie somehow.

  14. JMorgan says:

    Who needs tapes of the torture (to prove the dark deeds of the CIA and that torture was used to justify links between 9/11 & Iraq) when there are faked photographs taken in the southwest US by a CIA photographer of drones they purport to have been Iraq’s?

    Bush and Rice were in and out of the meeting where these photographs were shown that Kanjorski says was attended by four or five other members of Congress including himself. Why aren’t reporters crawling all over the Congress looking for these other members, getting corroboration?

    What’s keeping this from exploding into full-scale investigations, hearings and prosecutions is that it’s not being picked up by mainstream media.

    EW is but one person and this scandal is going to die and be buried like October-Surprise, Iran-Contra without the groundswell of the public demanding investigations and justice. That’s not going to happen unless major publications, major media, start covering the facts. MSNBC is the cable news channel coming closest to the facts, but even their coverage is all about the company line. Pelosi’s being made a scapegoat, and it’s looking as if it will end there.

    Without a narrative more in keeping with the truth, Obama will just continue along the Bush path, embracing more of Bush’s policies with no change whatsoever. Obama told the human rights groups today that there will be no prosecution of anyone in the Bush administration, and 9/11-type of commission.
    Rachel Maddow and Mike Isikoff tonight broke the story –

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