Obama’s CIA director, Leon Panetta, has now spoken out, essentially implying that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lying about the CIA lying to her.
Meanwhile, former Florida Senator Bob Graham (D), who served as the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee through 2002, has offered a recollection of intelligence briefings that appears to contradict both Pelosi and Panetta. Apparently, Graham was never briefed on waterboarding at all — ever. Or at least, that’s what he told Sam Stein yesterday in a truly weird interview that raises a lot more questions than it answers. (This is the Huffington Post, so Stein does not help clear up matters, but instead offers an interpretation that is best described as “wishful thinking” on Pelosi’s behalf.)
Graham says that the CIA gave him wrong dates of three briefings he’d attended, based on Graham’s legendary sprial notebooks. In fact, Graham was briefed only on September 27, 2002. The CIA, he said,
“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.”
Okay, fine. But then, of that meeting, Graham says he has “no recollection that issues such as waterboarding were discussed.” Pelosi acknowledges that waterboarding was discussed when she was briefed weeks earlier, on September 4, 2002 (she says it was discussed falsely, in the context of its not having been used). Is Graham really saying that there was a conspiracy to tell the House about the Bush administration’s legal approvals for waterboarding, but to hide it from the Senate? Or is he just short on his recollections?
Graham then cites the presence of staff at the September 27 briefing as “proof” that waterboarding probably was not discussed. But Pelosi has acknowledged that her staff was present at a 2003 briefing in which waterboarding definitely was discussed.
So what is Graham trying to say? Who knows.