May 21, 2009 / by emptywheel


Senator Bob Graham Clarifies His Briefing

Bob Graham (who has a good op-ed in the WaPo today that I will try to return to) just clarified some of my questions regarding the briefing on torture he received on September 27, 2002.

I had called to ask whether his explanation that Stan Moskowitz, from the Office of Congressional Affairs, did the briefing, meant that no one from CIA’s CounterTerrorism Center was at the briefing. No, it doesn’t. Graham’s notes have a line next to Moskowitz’s name, which suggests other people were with Moskowitz. Normally, Graham explained, the briefer would be someone who had an operational connection to the subject being briefed, which would support the likelihood that CTC was at that briefing. (In addition, Jose Rodriguez, then head of CTC, was still covert at the time, so they may not have used his name if he attended the briefing, but that’s my speculation, not Graham’s.)

I asked whether Richard Shelby attended that briefing. Yes, he did. That’s significant because Shelby’s and Graham’s accounts are the only ones from members of Congress whose memory of the same briefing significantly differs.

Graham went on further to explain that he recollects the briefing covered the high value detainees captured by that date, and described what the intelligence community had gleaned from those detainees. His impression, he said, was that they had gathered that information using traditional techniques the military, FBI, and intelligence agencies had used in the past. I asked whether Ibn Sheikh al-Libi came up in the briefing, but he did not recall who was mentioned. 

I asked (mostly for Mary) whether the CIA made any mention of the trip that Administration officials had made to Gitmo to discuss torture techniques–it had occurred just two days earlier. Graham had no recollection of such a discussion. 

Finally, I asked whether Graham was making an explicit connection between his mention of the deceptive intelligence Congress was getting in the form of the NIE and other Iraq War intelligence. No, he was not making an explicit connection. Rather, in the face of those who have been suggesting it is unpatriotic to suggest that the CIA might not be fully committed to accuracy and full disclosure, Graham was reminding them that this was the same period when the Administration and CIA was ramping up the case for war. The NIE, in particular, establishes some standard of believability or not.

And we all know the NIE turned out to be horribly inaccurate.

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