The CIA releases a detailed document at the request of Republicans that says 19 Democrats were routinely briefed on interrogation techniques. The Republicans are playing hardball, and this one's a little chin music for anyone who dares to try to prosecute BushCo over torture. (Here's a link to the document.)
And maybe this is why Democrats are so evasive over torture. If true, this is what happens when Democrats embrace Republican policies: They're always the ones who get blamed. You'd think they'd learn:
The document appears to conflict with recent statements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was then the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Ms. Pelosi has said she hadn't been told that the CIA was using the technique known as waterboarding, or simulated drowning. According to the document, Ms. Pelosi was one of the first lawmakers briefed on the interrogations in 2002.
Ms. Pelosi's spokesman Thursday reiterated the speaker's earlier contention that she was told in the briefing that waterboarding had been authorized but not yet used.
CIA Director Leon Panetta said the agency compiled the document -- based on the files and meeting summaries written at the time that represented the best recollections of the briefers -- in response to requests from Republican lawmakers, including the top Republican on the intelligence panel.
Greg Sergeant says there's more to it:
As you can see, this letter says that the info about briefings is taken from notes based on the “best recollections” of those who were there, adding:
In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened.
That would appear to be a concession that the CIA isn’t willing to vouch for the accuracy of the info about the briefings in the docs, and that only further inquiry will produce a reliable recounting of what happened.
To be clear, it’s perfectly possible that the info about what Dems were told is right. But not even the CIA is willing to promise this right now. So it’s unclear how much stock to place in the documents at this point.
Update: I’ve just learned that this same letter was also sent to GOP Rep Pete Hoekstra, a leading proponent of the claim that Dems knew the full scope of the torture program early on. I’ve edited the above to reflect this.
I’ve obtained the letter to Hoekstra, which you can read right here. What this means is that the Republican who has lodged the highest-profile attacks on Dems over what they knew and when has been directly informed by the CIA that the info on the briefings may not be reliable.
Bonus Update: Marcy Wheeler nails exactly why this is important.
Special Update For Waterboarding Obsessives: Here’s the key question in a nutshell.