First, a summary of what's going on: Pelosi has insisted she was not briefed by the CIA about the use of water-boarding or any enhanced interrogation techniques, but the CIA recently undermined her case. The agency released an account of a September 2002 meeting that the CIA says Pelosi attended and at which those harsh techniques were discussed. Pelosi said the CIA account was wrong and then went a step further. She said briefers in that meeting explicitly said water-boarding was not being used. We now know that at the time Abu Zubaydah had been water-boarded 83 times. Pelosi charged the agency with deliberately misleading Congress as part of the larger effort to mislead the nation in the run-up to the Iraq war.BOB GRAHAM: CIA Gave Me False Information About Interrogation Briefings
In testimony that could bolster Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA misled her during briefings on detainee interrogations, former Senator Bob Graham insisted on Thursday that he too was kept in the dark about the use of waterboarding, and called the agency's records on these briefings "suspect."
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman said that approximately a month ago, the CIA provided him with false information about how many times and when he was briefed on enhanced interrogations.
"When this issue started to resurface I called the appropriate people in the agency and said I would like to know the dates from your records that briefings were held," Graham recalled. "And they contacted me and gave me four dates -- two in April '02 and two in September '02. Now, one of the things I do, and for which I have taken some flack, is keep a spiral notebook of what I do throughout the day. And so I went through my records and through a combination of my daily schedule, which I keep, and my notebooks, I confirmed and the CIA agreed that my notes were accurate; that three of those four dates there had been no briefing. There was only one day that I had been briefed, which was September the 27th of 2002."
As for the one briefing he did attend, the Florida Democrat said that he had "no recollection that issues such as waterboarding were discussed." He was not, per the sensitive nature of the matters discussed, allowed to take notes at the time. But he did highlight what he considered to be pretty strong proof that the controversial technique was not discussed.
"What struck me...was the fact that in that briefing, there were also two staff members," he said. "As you know, the general rule is that the executive is to brief the full committees of the House and Senate Intelligence committees about any ongoing or proposed action. The exception to that is what is called "covert action," where the president...only briefs the Gang of Eight, which is the four congressional leaders and the four intelligence committee leaders. Those sessions are generally conducted at an executive site, primarily at the White House itself. And they are conducted with just the authorized personnel, not with any staff or any other member of the committee.... Which leads me to conclude that this was not considered by the CIA to be a Gang of Eight briefing. Otherwise they would not have had staff in the room. And that leads me to then believe that they didn't brief us on any of the sensitive programs such as the waterboarding or other forms of excessive interrogation."
The remarks made by Graham bolster the comments offered by Pelosi on Thursday. The Speaker told reporters that during her briefing session in the fall of 2002 she was not just kept in the dark about the issue of waterboarding, she was assured that it had not been used.
"Yes, I am saying that the CIA was misleading the Congress," she said.
Nancy Pelosi: CIA Lied To Me
David Espo | HuffPo May 14, 2009
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bluntly accused the CIA on Thursday of misleading her and other lawmakers about its use of waterboarding during the Bush administration, escalating a controversy grown to include both political parties, the spy agency and the White House.
"It is not the policy of this agency to mislead the United States Congress," responded CIA spokesman George Little, although he refused to answer directly when asked whether Pelosi's accusation was accurate.
But the House's top Democrat, speaking at a news conference in the Capitol, was unequivocal about a CIA briefing she received in the fall of 2002.
"We were told that waterboarding was not being used," the speaker said. "That's the only mention, that they were not using it. And we now know that earlier they were." She suggested the CIA release the briefing material.
Pelosi also vehemently disputed Republican charges that she was complicit in the use of waterboarding, and she suggested the GOP was trying to shift the focus of public attention away from the Bush administration's use of techniques that she and President Barack Obama have described as torture.
Coincidentally, Pelosi spoke as the CIA rejected former Vice President Dick Cheney's request to release secret memos judging whether waterboarding and other harsh techniques had succeeded in securing valuable intelligence information.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 14, 2009. Earlier Thursday, under strong attack from Republicans, Pelosi accused the CIA and Bush Administration of misleading her about waterboarding detainees in the war on terror and sharply rebutted claims she was complicit in the method's use. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)