Silvestre Reyes: CIA Lied to Congress

I suspect Crazy Pete Hoekstra didn’t really consider that his efforts to escalate the battle between CIA and Nancy Pelosi would backfire like this, but now Silvestre Reyes, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has responded to Hoekstra’s opposition to measures to increase intelligence oversight by stating that CIA lied to Congress.

House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes has suggested Republicans avoid politicizing the intelligence authorizaton bill later this week in light of what he says is evidence the CIA "affirmatively lied to" the panel.

In a Tuesday letter to his committee’s top-ranking Republican, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, that was obtained by Congressional Quarterly, Reyes, D-Texas, wrote that the committee has recently received information that reveals significant problems with the intelligence agency’s reporting to the panel.

"These notifications have led me to conclude this committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to," Reyes wrote.

Reyes did not describe or detail the alleged false or misleading statements to the committee.


Republicans contend a provision of the fiscal 2010 bill (HR 2701) scheduled for floor action Thursday would modify congressional notification procedures to provide political cover for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such briefings are a sensitive political topic, because Republicans have repeatedly criticized Pelosi over what she knew and when about the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques and her assertion that the CIA "misled" Congress on that topic. [my emphasis]

Reyes actually gave a date when the Committee discovered it had been lied to by the CIA: June 24, squarely in the middle of CIA’s review of both the CIA IG Report and of the Office of Public Responsibility report on the John Yoo and Steven Bradbury memos. 

"Like you, I was greatly concerned," Reyes told Hoekstra, about what he committee learned on June 24 and another unspecified date from CIA Director Leon E. Panetta. "As you know, I have begun to take steps to gather information on the recent notifications," Reyes wrote. Read more

The Hill’s Campfire Games on Intelligence Briefings

The Hill has a childish article out–one that encourages our Congress to function like a child’s playroom, and one that manufactures "news" at the whim of its sources. The "story," as told by the Hill, is that Republicans attended a closed briefing (the article doesn’t really explain that "closed" means "classified"), and then came out and made claims about what they heard in the briefing.

Republicans ignited a firestorm of controversy on Thursday by revealing some of what they had been told at a closed-door Intelligence Committee hearing on the interrogation of terrorism suspects.

Democrats immediately blasted the GOP lawmakers for publicly discussing classified information, while Republicans said Democrats are trying to hide the truth that enhanced interrogation of detainees is effective.

GOP members on the Intelligence Committee on Thursday told The Hill in on-the-record interviews that they were informed that the controversial methods have led to information that prevented terrorist attacks.

When told of the GOP claims, Democrats strongly criticized the members who revealed information that was provided at the closed House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing. Democrats on the panel said they could not respond substantively, pointing out that the hearing was closed.

Now, reading those first few paragraphs, you’d think you’d find a series of quotes from Republicans in the article that supported the claim that torture "had led to information that prevented terrorist attacks," right? The Hill promised "on the record interviews."

As it turns out, the Hill gives us just one on-the-record quote from a Republican who attended the briefing, and it doesn’t quite live up to billing:

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a member of the subcommittee who attended the hearing, concurred with Hoekstra [who was not at the briefing, that they told him interrogation worked].
“The hearing did address the enhanced interrogation techniques that have been much in the news lately,” Kline said, noting that he was intentionally choosing his words carefully in observance of the committee rules and the nature of the information presented.
“Based on what I heard and the documents I have seen, I came away with a very clear impression that we did gather information that did disrupt terrorist plots,” Kline said.

Kline makes two claims:

  1. The hearing did "address" techniques that have been in the news lately
  2.  We did gather information that did disrupt terrorist plots

And from this, the apparently English-challenged Hill writer, Jared Allen, claims that GOP members–plural Read more

Victory Is Mine!!!!

Finally, a TradMed source who knows how to read!!!!

But in looking at the substance of the accusations, it increasingly looks like [Nancy Pelosi] was right. Porter Goss was careful to parse his words in the conditional future tense when talking about what, exactly, he and Pelosi were briefed on in September 2002:

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.

And Senator Richard Shelby also carefully avoided saying he’d been briefed on EITs that had already been used, saying only that he’d been told about the techniques. And “purported” isn’t exactly a strong word – it’s a synonym of suggested or claimed. From his statement: 

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.

Bob Graham, who was theoretically in the room with Shelby, says he has no recollection of the meeting at all – this from a man who famously details his every waking minute. Perhaps the most astonishing response has been from the CIA Director Leon Panetta, who basically said: Don’t trust our records. Which begs the question: what other issues have they kept questionable records on?

There are about 8 more sentences, all of them sweet vindication.  I can’t believe it took me one month and a Swampland post to feel like this. And it’s admittedly one damn battle in a too-long war on flaccid media.

But still. It feels good.

Scrapple and Pelosi

Yes, I’m glad that Arlen "the Scrapple formerly known as Haggis" Specter has come out in support of Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that CIA misled her in her September 2002 briefing.

"The CIA has a very bad record when it comes to — I was about to say ‘candid’; that’s too mild — to honesty," Specter, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a lunch address to the American Law Institute. He cited misleading information about the agency’s involvement in mining harbors in Nicaragua and the Iran-Contra affair."Director [Leon] Panetta says the agency does not make it a habit to misinform Congress. I believe that is true. It is not the policy of the Central Intelligence Agency to misinform Congress," Specter said. "But that doesn’t mean that they’re all giving out the information."

Because of leaks that have come from Congress, Specter said, he understands the agency’s hesitancy to disclose all its information.

"The current controversy involving Speaker Pelosi and the CIA is very unfortunate, in my opinion, because it politicizes the issue and it takes away attention from … how does the Congress get accurate information from the CIA?" Specter said. "For political gain, people are making headlines."

But one thing should be mentioned about Specter’s comments. Note that Scrapple, unlike John Boehner and Crazy Pete Hoekstra and John McCain, doesn’t claim to know WTF Pelosi was briefed.

Rather, his statement is general (a sentiment Specter probably formed when he was on SSCI): Specter’s noting that CIA is less than forthcoming with Congress, and that that needs to change. (He’s also correctly suggesting that those making headlines are doing so for political spin.)

The distinction is important. This whole debate has largely been drummed up by people who have no fucking clue how CIA briefed Congress in 2002. It’d be nice if that kind of rank ignorance wasn’t making the headlines anymore. 

Crazy Pete Hoekstra Flip-Flops on Congressional Notification

In 2006, a certain member of Congress laid out the President’s and Intelligence Community’s obligation under the National Security Act to brief Congress on intelligence activities.

I want to reemphasize that the Administration has the legal responsibility to "fully and currently" inform the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of its intelligence and intelligence-related activities. Although the law gives you and the committees flexibility on how we accomplish that (I have been fully supportive of your concerns in that respect), it is clear that we, the Congress, are to be provided all information about such activities. I have learned of some alleged Intelligence Community activities about which our committee has not been briefed. In the next few days I will be formally requesting information on these activities. If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the Members of this committee who have so ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies. I strongly encourage you to direct all elements of the Intelligence Community to fulfill their legal responsibility to keep the Intelligence Committees fully briefed on their activities. The U.S. Congress should not have to play "Twenty Questions" to get the information that it deserves under the Constitution.

This letter makes the President’s and Intelligence Community’s obligation pretty clear. They must "fully and currently" inform congressional intelligence committees. They must provide all information about such activities. Congress should not have to play "Twenty Questions" to get such information. Not providing such information is a violation of the law. And, "just as importantly," it is "a direct affront" to Congress to withhold such information.

That’s a pretty clear statement of the importance of CIA’s obligation to inform Congress of their activities.

So why do you think it is that the author of this letter–Crazy Pete Hoekstra–has spent the last three weeks beating up Nancy Pelosi when–by all accounts–she was not briefed on the CIA’s activities "fully and currently" in 2002? Why is it okay for Crazy Pete that Pelosi and Porter Goss should have to play Twenty Questions on torture, when such games were not okay for Crazy Pete himself after he became the Chair of HPSCI? Does’t Crazy Pete care that CIA’s treatment of Congress in 2002 was a "direct affront" to their efforts to support the intelligence community?

And most importantly, if it was a violation of the law in 2006 not to inform Congress about intelligence community activities, then wasn’t it a violation of the law in 2002?

Read more

Exclusive!! Pro-Torture Spooks Continue to Play Journalists for Chumps!!

This chump journalist thing seems to be more virulent than swine flu.

The Moonie Times has an !!!EXCLUSIVE!!! reporting that Silvestre Reyes (who of course joined the Gang of Four after the torture program and the illegal wiretap program became public) thinks Congress is partly responsible for the "interrogation controversy."

In a rare gesture, House intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter this week to all CIA employees suggesting that Congress shared some blame for the CIA interrogation controversy and should play a more robust role in the intelligence policymaking process.

The letter, which was sent Wednesday and made available to The Washington Times on Thursday, appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, including waterboarding. [my emphasis]

Only, that’s not what the letter says.

One important lesson to me from the CIA’s interrogation operations involves congressional oversight. I’m going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our own oversight of CIA more meaningful;  I want to move from mere notification to real discussion. Good oversight can lead to a partnership, and that’s what I am looking to bring about. 

The tip-off to Moonie’s chumps should be "mere notification," which (as Pelosi has said) is not the same as approval.

But don’t take my word on basic English–check out what Reyes said to the Hill about his letter.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes said he agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that members of Congress have been too limited in how they can respond to briefings about intelligence policies they oppose.

"The system we have now is a one-way discussion," Reyes (D-Texas) said in an interview with The Hill on Friday. "In the final analysis, they’re going to do what they’re going to do."


The Washington Times reported the letter exclusively Friday, and said the letter "appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, including waterboarding."

Reyes said that was not the case.

"It’s pure and simple conservative spin," Reyes said. "And it’s a disservice to our intelligence personnel all over the world."

Misreading Reyes’ letter is not the only thing the chumps from the Moonie Times did. They exhibited either willful blindness to the public record or plain old ignorance. Read more

Crazy Pete Hoekstra Wants to Be Governor Torture

I wanted to comment on Crazy Pete Hoekstra’s torture apology in the WSJ. The WSJ doesn’t mention it, but Crazy Pete is running for governor in Michigan in 2010. We’ve got our share of wingnuts in this state, but MI is increasingly blue, and our large population of Arab-Americans have historically been one of the swing voting blocks.

So Crazy Pete’s torture apology should be looked at as an attempt by the current or former Gang of Eight member facing the toughest electoral campaign next year (save perhaps Jane Harman, given recent revelations, but she made written objections to the torture program) to minimize the damage his support for torture will have next year. 

That said, Crazy Pete’s effort to spin his own complicity in torture is a (surprise!) thoroughly dishonest effort. He pretends to want to expose to complicitly of both Democrats and Republicans by releasing a list of the briefing’s Congress received. 

Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can’t be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

So Crazy Pete wants to publish a list of briefings, much like the one released for the illegal wiretap program several years ago. I’m all in favor of that, though we could pretty much construct such a list based on existing public information. But without the content of those briefings, what’s the point? We know the CIA lied in at least two of those briefings. And Nancy Pelosi, at least, insists that the first briefing–in fall 2002–did not reveal one or two people had already been waterboarded. She also claims the CIA never informed the full Gang of Eight that they would or had used waterboarding (note, there’s confusion in the reporting in this, which appears to be due to erroeneous assumptions that BushCo briefed the full Gang of Eight on subjects that they actually only briefed the intelligence leaders on–we saw the same confusion with the warrantless wiretap program, where we know the intell leaders were the only ones briefed until 2004).  

Read more

Susan Collins: I Stand With Crazy Pete the Twit-Leaker in Opposing Intelligence Whistleblowers

I’ve been covering the misplaced priorities of Crazy Pete Hoekstra–who doesn’t want federal Intelligence Community employees to have a way of alerting Congress to fraud and wrong-doing without exposing classified information and/or losing their jobs, but who is happy to Twitter sensitive information about his and Minority Leader Boehner’s travels in Baghdad.

It seems that Susan Collins has the same misplaced priorities. She single-handedly axed the House-backed provision to include whistleblower protection in the stimulus package–and with it, prevented a key means of making sure taxpayer funds were spent wisely.

But, according to a person following the bill closely, Collins used today’s conference committee to drastically water down the measure, citing national security concerns as the reason for her opposition. In the end, the protections were so weakened that House negotiators balked, and the result was that the entire amendment was removed.

According to the person following the bill, Collins was the "central roadblock" to passing the protections.

To make matter worse, Collins is the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs commitee, which, as an oversight committee, might be expected to see its role as protecting whistleblowers. She also sits on the Senate appropriations committee, giving her a strong position from which to wield influence during today’s negotiations.

Though Senate leader Harry Reid supported the protections, said the source, he wasn’t willing to strong-arm Collins on the issue, given her central role in negotiations over the stimulus bill as a whole. [my emphasis]

I guess that about sums up the state of Republican approaches to both Homeland Security and Appropriations that they would work hard to deprive taxpayers of the protection from fraud and wrong-doing they need.  

The MI GOP: Leading Their National Party to Twit Failure

When I wrote my post describing Crazy Pete Hoekstra’s Twitter security breach, I had one thought in my mind: the Republicans have been learning their online social networking skills from MI’s Republicans.

Saul Anuzis, MI’s former GOP Chair, who lost just about every election he could, has long been fond of trolling at MI’s lefty blogs and experimenting with Facebook and was an early Twitter user. Because this made him a rarity among the tech-impaired Republicans, he attracted support for his run for RNC Chair out of the mistaken belief that he was some tech whiz.

Crazy Pete, I thought as soon as I heard about his Twitter security breach, learned his stuff from Saul.

We could only be so lucky, I mused further, if the GOP nationally took after Saul’s sloppy Twitter habits.

Consider us lucky. Following in Saul’s and Crazy Pete’s footsteps, the idiotic Republican Chair in Virginia just blew a plot to flip the Senate today by tweeting about it prematurely. Democrats currently have a 21-19 majority in the VA Senate. Republicans had convinced Democrat Ralph Northam to flip sides which, with the Republcian Lt Governor, would have tipped the Senate to the Republicans.

And then the Republican Party Chair Jeff Frederick tweeted it. 

Having been thus warned, the Democrats adjourned before Republicans could execute their plot … and proceeded to pound Northam until he rethought his decision to flip.

The Republicans fucked up a chance to flip the Senate with their sloppy Tweet habits! 

You are all welcome, America, for the lessons Saul Anuzis has given his fellow Republicans.

Update: More Twitting, this time in NY.

Crazy Pete Hoekstra’s Misplaced Priorities on Keeping Secrets

As I pointed out last week, Crazy Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says we can’t have whistleblower protection included in the stimulus package because it would compromise our national security if intelligence community whistleblowers could safely tell Congress (in a classified setting) about fraud and wrong-doing.

After which, Crazy Pete promptly went to Iraq and posted the classified details of his and John Boehner’s trip to his Twitter account.

A delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio, arrived in Iraq earlier today, and because of Rep. Peter Hoekstra , R-Mich., the entire world — or at least readers—now know they’re there.

“Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, a former chairman of the Intelligence panel and now the ranking member, who is routinely entrusted to keep some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets.

Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.

Nobody expected, though, that a lawmaker with such an extensive national security background would be the first to break the silence. And in such a big way.

Not only did Hoekstra reveal the existence of the lawmakers’ trip, but included details about their itinerary in updates posted every few hours on his Twitter page, until he suddenly stopped, for some reason, on Friday morning.

See, we can’t have whistleblowers share secrets in classified settings. Because that takes all the fun, for members of the Gang of Eight, out of sharing secrets via Twitter.