May 15, 2009

This is a block buster. Former Sen.(D)Bob Graham, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee told David Shuster that he never was briefed about waterboarding by the CIA on MSNBC. He also said that he was never allowed to take real notes about the CIA briefings, but he did log the topics and the amount of times he was briefed. They don't match up with the CIA's version. And of course, George "Slam Dunk" Tenet's outfit never was wrong or misled us before. James Fallows backs up Graham's honesty and integrity by the way. And Graham also sees the real motives behind the smearing of Pelosi. As he says it's an attempt to shift the blame away the Bush administration and their use of torture.

Graham: David, when I was briefed about three weeks after The Speaker, the subject "waterboarding" never came up. Nor did the treatment of Abu-Zubaydah or any other specific detainee.

Shuster: And that's significant because by the time of your briefing and the Speaker's briefing we now know that Zubaydah had been waterboarded 83 times, so again was their a requirement, was it incumbent on the CIA to tell you as the Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee or a ranking member, was there an obligation on them to tell you what was going on?

Graham: Yes, they're obligated to tell the full Intelligence Committee not just the leadership. This was the same time, within the same week in fact that the CIA was submitting their National Intelligence Estimate or NIE report on WMD's in IRAQ which proved so erroneous that we went to war and that have had thousands of persons killed and injured as a result of misinformation.

David, I think fundamentally what's happening is there's an attempt underway to try and shift the discussion away from what's really important and that is did the US use torture? Was that within the law? Who authorized and what were the consequences of that. Those are the important issues. Whether The Speaker or anybody else knew about it is frankly sort of off on the edges.

Graham blasts the CIA for also misleading us in the IRAQ WAR, but they would never try to mislead Pelosi or smear her now. He also calls for a Truth Commission on Torture. Can Republicans now keep denying that we need a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of all this torture business?

Greg Sargent broke this story:

Former Senator Bob Graham, who received a classified briefing on terror detainees during the same month in the fall of 2002 as Nancy Pelosi, was not briefed about the use of either waterboarding or enhanced interrogation techniques during the meeting, he claimed in an interview with me.

Graham’s assertion — his first public comments since the release of the intelligence document detailing torture briefings given to members of Congress — directly contradicts the document’s claim that he had been briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs. Graham is now the second Dem official to deny on the record the document’s contents and raises questions about its claim that Pelosi had been told, which she has denied.

“I do not have any recollection of being briefed on waterboarding or other forms of extraordinary interrogation techniques, or Abu Zubaydah being subjected to them,” Graham told me by phone moments ago, in a reference to the terror suspect who had been repeatedly waterboarded the month before.

Graham is the only other Dem aside from Pelosi to get briefed in 2002, so they are both in effect asserting that no Dem was briefed on the use of EITs that year. The date of the next briefing was in February 2003.

Graham claimed he would have remembered if he’d been told about the use of torture. “Something as unexpected and dramatic as that would be the kind of thing that you would normally expect to recall even years later,” he said.

And here's more by Fallows on Graham:

Part of the payoff of reaching age 72 and having spent 38 years in public office, as Graham has, is that people have had a chance to judge your reputation. Graham has a general reputation for honesty. In my eyes he has a specific reputation for very good judgment: he was one of a handful of Senators actually to read the full classified intelligence report about the "threats" posed by Saddam Hussein. On the basis of reading it, despite a career as a conservative/centrist Democrat, he voted against the war and fervently urged his colleagues to do the same. "Blood is going to be on your hands," he warned those who voted yes.

More relevant in this case, Graham also has a specific reputation for keeping detailed daily records of people he met and things they said. He's sometimes been mocked for this compulsive practice, but he's never been doubted about the completeness or accuracy of what he compiles. (In the fine print of those records would be an indication that I had interviewed him about Iraq war policy while he was in the Senate and recently spent time with him when he was on this side of the world.)

So if he says he never got the briefing, he didn't. And if the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf challenges him, they are stupid and incompetent as well as being untrustworthy. This doesn't prove that the accounts of briefing Pelosi are also inaccurate. But it shifts the burden of proof.

You'll notice that the media always has no problem attacking Pelosi. Is it because she's a liberal or a women or both? When the truth comes out, she'll face up to what she did or did not do, but the media would never let a political party shift the debate like this away from the central issue of torture to the time frame Pelosi might or might not have been briefed on it. They already tortured the detainees and Pelosi had no hand on their policy decisions.

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